Gemstone Signs Three Management Contracts

11th Oct 2004

Gemstone Resorts International, LLC, a leading resort management company that specializes in managing and asset managing four-star and five-star complex resort projects and unique urban hotels, today announced that it has signed or expanded three management contracts: the 269-room Hotel Orrington in Evanston, Ill.; the Lake Lawn Resort on Lake Delavan in southeastern Wisconsin which will be expanded to 779 rooms, and the 244-room Westward Look Resort in Tucson, Ariz.

“In addition to day-to-day operations, we are assisting our investors develop cutting-edge master plans that will help them become a dominant competitor in their respective markets. Our goal is to expand and enhance the well-established reputation, as well as the bottom line, of these properties,” said Thomas Prins, principal of Gemstone Resorts International, LLC. “All of these properties have a rich cultural history and are taking important steps to reinvent themselves to meet today’s standards and market to a new generation of leisure and business travelers.”

Prins noted that Gemstone continues to aggressively seek third-party management and select investment opportunities. “We are seeing stepped-up interest from investors/owners who want to do more than just refurbish their properties as the hotel economy recovers. These investors want to break new ground and broaden their product offering to gain greater market share.”

Hotel Orrington

Located at 1710 Orrington Avenue, in Evanston, Ill., just steps from Northwestern University, the Hotel Orrington has been considered the premier locale for meetings, upscale parties, bar and bat mitzvahs and glamorous weddings since its opening in 1923.


Gemstone assisted in planning the scope of the property’s current $32 million renovation, and has overseen the pre-opening activities while the property has been closed for renovation. Gemstone will operate the hotel upon its opening on October 27, 2004.

All 269 guest rooms and suites, Globe Cafe and Bar, and the hotel’s renowned Grand Ballroom have been totally renovated. The lobby was completely reconfigured, including creating a two-story atrium, and a new entrance will give a grander sense of arrival, consistent with the hotel’s upgrade. A new top floor was added, which houses a state-of-the-art, 12,000-square-foot, rooftop conference center, built to International Association of Conference Centers standards, that provides stunning views of Lake Michigan, surrounding Northern Chicago suburbs and downtown Chicago.

“The Orrington is a classic hotel that had fallen out of step with its marketplace,” said Mark van Hartesvelt, principal of Gemstone Resorts International, LLC. “In addition to completely making over the property, we identified an untapped meeting market. We plan to work closely with local and regional markets, as well as forge a closer relationship with our neighbor, Northwestern University.”

The hotel is scheduled to open on October 27, 2004. The Conference Center is scheduled to open in January. A major signature restaurant will follow in the spring. Room reservations for October 2004 and beyond, along with social or corporate event bookings, are being accepted now. For more information, visit or call (847) 866-8700.

Lake Lawn Resort

Gemstone created the business plan for a major expansion and upgrade that will transform the Lake Lawn Resort into a four-star level, year-round destination targeted to leisure travelers and group meetings. Located on Lake Delavan in southeastern Wisconsin, 90 minutes northwest of Chicago, the resort upgrade plans call for completely upgrading most of the existing 284-room hotel and converting the property to a condominium hotel, while preserving the history and character of the resort facilities. Some of the rooms, along with outer buildings containing a spa, food and beverage facilities and meeting space, will be demolished.

Gemstone currently is working with local government planning and zoning officials to finalize the plan, which includes state-of-the-art meeting space, major new family-oriented attractions, and new full-service spa. “Our goal is to create meeting and leisure facilities that will provide the property with a year-round guest base and make it one of the most desirable destination resorts in the Midwest,” van Hartesvelt said.

Plans calls for nearly tripling the resort’s size to 779 rooms with the addition of several new condominium hotel projects, each appealing to a different lifestyle group. In addition, a number of new restaurants and lounges are planned for the expansion, along with a new Club House built in conjunction with a major upgrade to the golf course.

New construction will feature heavy timber and stone accents to create a rustic resort environment with oversized windows to maximize lake and golf course views from all of the property’s 779 rooms.

All of the property’s rooms will be hotel condominium units. Each unit will be sold separately. Owners will be able to use their unit a maximum of 30 days a year and be placed in a rental pool for hotel guests the remainder of the time.

Located on 258 acres of wooded lakeside land with approximately two miles of shoreline on Lake Delavan, at 2400 East Geneva Street, Delavan, Wis., the property is 10 miles west of Lake Geneva and less than two hours drive from Chicago and Milwaukee. The Lake Lawn Resort features daily boat launchings, a fitness center, riding stables, seven tennis courts, year-round fishing and a private airstrip.

Westward Look Resort

Gemstone has been awarded management of the 80-acre Westward Look Resort and Spa and currently is conducting extensive proprietary research to develop an innovative master plan to enhance the resort and increase profitable revenue. Located at 245 East Ina Road, Tucson, Ariz., the resort is set high in the foothills overlooking the city. The resort was developed around a 1912 homestead estate built just six months after Arizona became a state.

“We plan to take advantage of the property’s serene setting and improve the property’s leisure appeal,” Prins said. “Our other goal is to develop Westward Look’s business amenities to attract more professionally-oriented clientele.” The new plan will be presented to the owners before year-end.

Currently, each guest room has either a private balcony or patio offering a view of the mountains, desert or the city, and is decorated in a blend of Spanish colonial, Mexican and Native American styles. In addition, the resort offers horseback riding facilities, hiking and biking trails, tennis courts, three swimming pool, and 15,000 square feet of meeting space. The property features a Mobile four-diamond restaurant and the well-regarded Sonoran Spa. Westward Look is one of only six resorts nationwide to hold Tennis Magazine’s “Top 50 U.S. Tennis Resorts” rating for 18 years.


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