Company founded by TV bandleader Lawrence Welk is building a timeshare resort in Breckenridge | SummitDaily.com

Company founded by TV bandleader Lawrence Welk is building a timeshare resort in Breckenridge

Building on the success Breckenridge has had in the timeshare industry, an established company is constructing a plush, 123-key resort on six acres of riverfront property north of downtown, and it's expected to open in late 2019.

Based in San Marcos, California, Welk Resorts sells points-based timeshares with six properties in San Diego, Palm Springs and Lake Tahoe, California; Branson, Missouri; Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; and now Breckenridge. The company was founded in 1964 by the popular TV bandleader Lawrence Welk, and has remained mostly family-owned since then, with Jon Fredricks, the founder's grandson, taking over as president and CEO.

Boasting more than 1,800 workers in U.S. and Mexico, Welk Resorts has affiliations with about seven other resorts the company doesn't manage, but its guests can use nonetheless.

What precipitated the effort to expand into Breckenridge? "Our owners, we knew, love the magic of the Colorado mountains and exchange here, and really enjoy this area," Fredricks said during a dual ground-breaking and ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday in Breckenridge. "We wanted to add an additional ski location, and this property became available after the last recession."

According to Fredricks, Welk Resorts worked with Breckenridge Lands to purchase the 6.5-acre riverfront property at 639 Shores Lane in 2013. According to local property records, the company closed on the sale for $6.9 million in May 2014.

But the story of how The Ranahan is coming into existence goes back much further than that.

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The way Fredricks tells it, the property was once a working ranch owned by a local miner. In fact, the original fireplace from the miner's home will become a centerpiece of The Ranahan after it's rebuilt inside the resort lobby. Meanwhile, the barn has been turned into a preview center, which is finished and ready to start selling timeshares, while the original bunkhouse will become a place for employee housekeeping.

"And so we decided to name the resort, 'The Ranahan,' which is the good all-around cowboy and a top ranch hand," Fredricks said, adding that it will come with "a great impact on the local community."

Describing that impact, he pegged it at 14,000 guests a year after build out spending an estimated $2,400 each at Breckenridge's art galleries, restaurants, bars, T-shirt shops and other in-town businesses. Annually, that works out to about $12 million. Aside from that, Fredricks said the resort will operate with about 100 employees and produce an estimated $250,000 in annual sales taxes for the town from just its rentals.

During Thursday's ceremony, Breckenridge Town Councilwoman Elisabeth Lawrence welcomed the resort on the town's behalf and said she looked forward to having another "strong community partner," a nod to another local timeshare company with a solid reputation.

"Breckenridge Grand Vacations and the timeshare industry has been pivotal to our community's success here in Breckenridge, and we are so pleased to have another important, longstanding timeshare business here to bring wonderful visitors to Breckenridge," Lawrence said. "We can promise you we will work with you and showcase the best of what our town has to offer to your guests."

The Ranahan seeks to capitalize on the area's world-class skiing, fishing, hiking and other outdoor opportunities with on-site access to the rec path and the Blue River. The resort will also feature a fitness center, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a 12-seat movie theater and an owner's lounge. Beyond that there will be outdoor spas, firepits and gathering space, along with an indoor water slide and splash pad.

The first phase of construction includes seven standard and 30 lock-off two-bedroom villas for a total of 67 keys. The two-bedroom lock-off units are comprised of a large one-bedroom and small one-bedroom villa. Altogether, the resort is expected to have 123 units at full build out, and each of the two-bedroom units comes with a kitchen, living room, dining area, balcony or patio and fireplace.

One welcome addition, developers say the new timeshare resort will come with some employee housing too, which is expected to be ready with the completion of phase one.

The dual ceremonies on Thursday — a ground breaking for resort and a ribbon cutting for its preview barn, which is already built — brought some recognizable characters up from Denver to Summit County, including one who's said to be born here.

Dinger, the triceratops who represents the Colorado Rockies baseball team, and Bernie, an 8-year-old St. Bernard who roots on Colorado's NHL team, made the trek from Denver to liven up festivities with some playful havoc. They were joined by a handful of Denver Nuggets dancers and Avalanche Ice Girls.

Bernie's presence was a fitting addition because, on the hockey team's website, he's actually listed as having been born in Summit County.

During the ceremony, Fredricks also gave Mike Dudick and Mike Millisor of Breckenridge Grand Vacations a check for $10,000 in support of Saturday's third annual Rob Millisor Heart Health Walk, started in memory of BGV's co-founder.