Ed Merriman / The Bulletin

Thousands of families, honeymooners, skiers, whitewater rafters and mountain bikers have made memories of a lifetime at Seventh Mountain Resort, where a $15 million renovation that began in 2006 is nearing completion under a new general manager.

Chris Otto took over Aug. 1 as general manager of the destination resort located along Cascade Lakes Highway between Bend and Mt. Bachelor ski area.

Otto said the final phase of the renovations — redoing the exterior of the resort's 21 lodging buildings — is nearly done. Fifteen of the buildings have been completed, two are under construction and the final four will be done next year.

The units partially encircle the RimRock Bar, Seasons Restaurant, Big Eddy's Cafe and Provision Co., pool area, volleyball, softball and soccer fields and miniature golf course, which is converted to an ice rink in winter.

Each of the 21 lodging buildings contains from 13 to 20 condominium-style units for a total of 222 units, which are owned by 235 members of the Association of Unit Owners. Otto said the association funded the renovation project, led by the Eugene-based Papé Group, which funded the new registration building and other common facilities such as the pools, restaurants and meeting rooms, along with improvements to condos the group owns.

Otto got his start in the hospitality industry in 1989 at the Valley River Inn in Eugene, where he worked for 10 years, including four years as director of sales and six years as general manager.

He moved to Bend in 2006 to be director of sales at Sunriver Resort before becoming GM at Seventh Mountain Resort.

“Coming to Bend from Eugene was a personal choice for lifestyle and quality of life,” Otto said. “It is a beautiful place to raise a family.

“I feel very lucky to live in a place people come to visit, and I chose to come over to Seventh Mountain Resort from Sunriver because of the opportunity to get into a top leadership position,” Otto said.

For following green building practices, Otto said Seventh Mountain Resort received the 2010 Award for Greening the Built Environment, which hangs on the wall in the registration building along with a plaque naming it one of the 2010 Top 25 Northwest Resorts chosen by the Portland Business Journal, as well as the Expedia Insider Select Award for being chosen One of the World's Top 1 Percent of Hotels in 2008. The Seventh Mountain Resort also has received the three-diamond rating from AAA every year since 2006.

Otto acknowledged that some members of the resort's Association of Unit Owners were unhappy about the cost of the renovations for which they were assessed.

“There was quite a bit of controversy over the renovations, but that was before my arrival,” Otto said. “Now that the renovation work is nearly completed, the property owners I've talked to are very happy with the quality of the renovations.

“In the past, the owners association did not have a reserve fund for capital improvements. Therefore, to accomplish the improvements, they were assessed,” Otto said.

To avoid large assessments in the future, Otto said a mechanism has been initiated to fund future improvements.

“We are engaged in conversations with the owners, and they are very pleased with the quality of the improvements, and that a reserve fund has been created, so they won't be hit with large assessments in the future,” Otto said.

Otto said a handful of management companies have run the resort over the past 10 years.

Most recently, the Premier Resorts company was managing the resort until the company filed for bankruptcy in October 2009. Since then, a subsidiary of the Papé Group, called Inspired, has managed the resort, Otto said.

Q: What are your first goals as the new general manager?

A: To continue to be a primary destination for longtime customers who come to enjoy everything we have to offer, from skiing at Mt. Bachelor to ice skating, mountain biking, tennis, hiking, whitewater rafting, swimming, relaxing in one of our hot tubs or participating in the many other outdoor recreational opportunities, dining, music venues and other amenities the area has to offer.

Q: What are your secondary goals?

A: My second goal is to reintroduce the resort to the Bend community and be a local option for fun activities. The public is welcome to come out and go horseback riding, ride mountain bikes or use our ice-skating rink, which we hope to open by Thanksgiving, weather permitting.

Q: Where do people who come to the resort ride horses and mountain bikes?

A: We have lease agreements with the Forest Service for the trails we use for horseback riding and mountain biking.

Q: Will you continue to market the resort to businesses and community groups?

A: Yes. With the renovations, we have meeting space for groups as large as 500 to hold meetings, conventions, holiday parties and other events.

Q: What else would you like people to know about the resort?

A: We have a very dedicated staff who are passionate about making time at Seventh Mountain Resort the kind of experience where good memories are made, whether it's a weekend of skiing or golfing in Central Oregon, a business meeting, a family vacation, wedding, anniversary, New Year's celebration, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day or even Halloween.