1st Choice now the ticket to paradise | PostIndependent.com

1st Choice now the ticket to paradise

Post Independent Photo/Jim Noelker

An Aspen- and Vail-style tourist option is finding a niche in Glenwood Springs.

In West Glenwood, 1st Choice Inn is selling time-shares for its 123 rooms, and its marketing pitch is straightforward.

“We’re a lot more affordable,” said Scott Mickey, marketing director for 1st Choice Inns.

Mickey quickly lists the cost of other time-share offerings in Aspen, Vail and Breckenridge: “$195,000 in Aspen … $30,000 to $50,000 in Breckenridge and Vail … We’re $4,000 to $12,000.”

More than 200 people, mostly from the Front Range, have bought 1st Choice Inns time-shares since they went on sale in March, and Mickey expects the entire motel to sell out in six years.

The current sales campaign also targets local residents, and two model rooms will be ready to show by Christmas.

All 123 rooms will be gutted, refurbished and upgraded at a pace of about 10 to 20 rooms per year, and seven are completed and ready to go.

With increased marketing efforts on the Front Range, those rooms are being shown to 60 to 100 out-of-town couples per week.

“We expect to have 3,500 to 4,000 guests next year,” Mickey said.

Longtime locals remember the 1st Choice Inns was the Holiday Inn in its original incarnation.

The 1st Choice owners were out of town, and not available for comment, but Mickey said they wanted to diversify their holdings. 1st Choice contracted with the California-based Trading Places to offer a wide range of time-share destinations.

1st Choice time-share owners will also be able to stay at the 400 properties Trading Places manages in Hawaii, the mainland United States, and Mexico, Mickey said.

There are 25 Colorado properties in the Trading Places stable, and they include St. James Place in Beaver Creek, Ramada Vacation Suites in Steamboat Springs, and Sandstone Creek Club in Vail.

Mickey said 1st Choice’s time-share program is based on points, and time-share owners can use their points at other Trading Places properties.

Trading Places ranks its properties as A, B or C, depending on the amenities offered, with A being the highest rating. The company created a special category, C1, to accommodate 1st Choice, because it is an existing facility, and is being completely refurbished.

“This is the first time Trading Places allowed a refurbished property to come into the system,” Mickey said last Friday. “Trading Places really wanted a presence in Glenwood Springs.”

Mickey and his wife, Laurie, own Island Bound Inc. and moved to Glenwood to market 1st Choice. There are four other people on the sales staff, but Mickey plans to expand that to six or seven by mid-winter. Much of the sales work is conducted from a telephone and direct mail sales center in Colorado Springs.

Glenwood’s tourism industry has long talked about boosting business during the shoulder seasons in the fall and spring. 1st Choice’s time-share program could go a little ways toward helping out.

“We expect our occupancy to be much more consistent than a hotel,” Mickey said. “We expect to be 80 to 100 percent full all the time.”

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534


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