Birch Bay hotel proposed to cash in on Olympics


A new hotel proposed for Birch Bay is the second hotel project announced in recent months intended to cash in on the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, B.C.

Developers and Birch Bay residents Rex and Cynthia Colinares also want to be able to offer a hotel option to visitors of the resort community, which is currently only home to timeshare condos that are privately owned and inaccessible to non-members, Rex said.

“This year it has been so evident how many people came to discover Birch Bay,” he said. “The word is out about how beautiful Birch Bay is and how close it is to the border, and the 2010 Olympics will intensify a need for hotel accommodation in the area.”

The hotel would be located on the Colinares’ 1.9-acre property at 4815 and 4817 Alderson Road, at the intersection of Birch Bay Drive and Alderson Road, two blocks from the beach.

Preliminary plans for the hotel, which the Colinares recently submitted to the Whatcom County Planning Department for a pre-application meeting, include a six-story, 97-unit hotel on 12,200 square feet of the site. The hotel would include a small meeting room, swimming pool, spa, fitness center, picnic facility, and high-speed Internet access.

The Colinares have owned the property for several years and intended to simply hold it in their holding company, but with the recent bustle of tourism in the area, decided to develop the site instead.

“We’re really in dire need for a hotel in Birch Bay. We just feel putting in a hotel is going to further facilitate the need for people visiting us who are having to leave because there are only timeshares.”

The couple is currently looking for a joint investor for the project, and has several prospects, although they already have financing available through a bank, Rex said.

Ideally, they would like to break ground on the project in spring 2008 and complete it in spring 2009, in time for the 2010 Olympics, he said.

But the developers have a lot of hoops to jump through first, said Sam Ryan, interim director of the county’s Planning and Development Services department. The developers still need to receive a conditional use permit for the site because of the project’s size, although it is already zoned for resort commercial uses, she said. They will also need to mitigate some wetlands and streams issues, as well as work with the Public Works Department on road access, she said.

The Colinareses are currently working through those issues with the county, Rex said.

Rex has previously worked in the hotel industry as a regional sales director for Executive Hotels & Resorts, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts and Hilton Hotels Corp. in Canada and the United States before getting into real estate investment with his wife in 2003.

Cynthia is the president of the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce. Both have been Birch Bay residents for four years, and Rex said they are excited to invest in the community’s future through the development of a hotel.

“Birch Bay has been great to our family,” he said. “We live here and our kids go to school here, and we’re going to give back to the community.”

This is the second hotel announced in the last two months with the intention of marketing to visitors of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Last month, the BBJ reported that local developer Morgan Bartlett has preliminary plans to build a 15-story hotel on W. Bakerview Road, called Olympic Tower.

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