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NAPA ? Hotel developers eager to tap into Napa Valley's Wine Country tourism

are either building or planning more than 1,800 new rooms, dotting the county

in Napa, Yountville, American Canyon and Calistoga.

Almost all of the projects are directed at higher-end customers and business

groups and range from towering, big brand hotels to expansions on local names

and faces. Most have been in the works for several years, but recently contractors

and builders seem to be steaming ahead for new customers city officials believe

are on the way.

Tourism officials said the wave of new rooms has been years in the making.

"It may look like hotel properties are booming in Napa and throughout the

county, but all properties being developed have held development approvals

for several years. It seems that over the past two to three years, financing

for the construction of properties has finally opened since 9/11," said Napa

Valley Conference and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Beth Carmichael.

"New properties in Napa offer more choices for our guests to experience.

... A number of hotel developers have told me they have been watching the

Napa Valley market, some for as many as 15 years," she said.

Between 2004 and 2005, Napa Valley's average annual occupancy rates improved

by 4.2 percent to exceed 72 percent, closely competing with San Francisco

at an annual average of 76.4 percent, according to PKF Consulting. Last year,

that number dipped to an annual average of 69.1 percent. Napa?s six month

average ending in June of this year was 68.8 percent.

A 2001 study by HVS International reported that Napa could successfully absorb

1,500 new hotel rooms, and by April all but 375 of those were close to being

built. Napa city planners will soon release results from an updated study

commissioned this year.

According to a 2006 Napa County Visitor Profile and Napa County Economic

Impact Study, the travel market is largely domestic and has household incomes

of more than $100,000 on average. Tourists spend an average of $2.5 million

per day in total that produces approximately $123 million in taxes.

<h3>Projects and plans by city:</h3>

Napa ? The developers of the Meritage Resort at Napa Valley Corporate

Park have submitted plans to expand by 160 rooms. Owner Pacific Hospitality

Group opened a $7.5 million, 9,000-square-foot spa in March.

The four-diamond Westin Verasa is scheduled to open next spring after breaking

ground in 2006.

Investors poured $63 million into owning one of 160 luxury condo hotel rooms

for access up to 29 days a year. The building, owned by Intrawest Corp.,

also includes plans for a 3,700-square-foot restaurant and lounge and 17,000

square feet of meeting space. The project is estimated at $50 million.

In April, River House Land Co. signed a letter of intent to construct a Ritz-Carlton

luxury hotel in the Oxbow district, formally planned as the Napa Resort and

Spa. The hotel between Copia and the Silverado Trail would have 351 rooms.

City planners said the group revised its application since taking over the

project and will have to resubmit likely this spring.

The once sleepy antique mall on First Street was taken over by Kansas-based

LodgeWorks developers who have started construction on a 141-room boutique

hotel. The name for the hotel that broke ground in September changed from

the Inn at Town Center to AVIA. Developers predict the hotel will garner

approximately 45,000 visits annually.

The Montalcino Resort just outside of Napa city limits will have 379 rooms,

a spa, conference space and golf course. HCV Pacific Partners have planned

a conference space of approximately 34,000 square feet, including a 5,000-square-foot

special events building. The 72-acre project estimated at $190 million is

slated to open in 2010.

The 90-room Soscol Avenue Hotel proposed by long-time Napa investor George

Altamura received entitlement approval two years ago, but the architects

have yet to submit a design application.

Developers have completed the entitlement work to rebuild the 115-room Chateau

Hotel as Kimpton Hotel. The applicants must first receive building and city

approval, but the Chateau would be torn down in the plan and replaced with

a 196-room hotel.

La Residencia in Napa on Highway 29 is pursuing expansion by about 25 rooms

but has not yet submitted its building application.

Milliken Creek of Napa received planning approval to expand by eight rooms,

but has not submitted an application for building permit.

***

American Canyon ? The 56-acre mixed-use Napa Junction development

plans to erect a three-story, 100-room hotel near the front of the lot on

Main Street that already includes retail and housing. The entire project

is valued at approximately $83 million, according to developers Napa Junction

and Lake Street Ventures.

Plans for a 132-room Hampton Inn were submitted to the planning commission

on Sept. 13 and await building review.

***

Calistoga ? Plans to reconstruct the Silver Rose Inn and Winery will

go to the planning commission on Nov. 28. Portions of the building would

be salvaged for the new Terrano Napa Valley Resort that would include 70

units and a spa.

Plans for a 40-unit expansion to the Calistoga Inn and Spa have been submitted

to the planning commission and are pending approval. The company is also

looking into adding conference space.

Roman Hot Springs Resort submitted plans to tear down its 7,000-square-foot

spa and rebuild to 12,000 square feet. It also asked for approval to renovate

61 rooms.

***

Yountville ? The Bardessono family has started construction on its

62-room Bardessono Inn and Spa. The 214,000-square-foot hotel will strive

for LEED green certification.

The Yountville Inn plans to expand by about 32 rooms to be completed in 2009.

French Laundry restaurateur Thomas Keller has plans to pursue a 20-unit Aloysius

Inn across from the restaurant.

Developers have submitted applications for a 20-unit Castello Stonio Inn

that could include four apartments, a restaurant and retail space.