Talisker hires private golf and ski club expert
March 1, 2006
He retired last May and now he and his wife Chris are unpacking boxes at their Hidden Meadow home.
According to Talisker, Thompson, 60,will be responsible for the strategic direction and business development of the company, including the development of the company’s real estate at Deer Valley’s Empire Pass, and Tuhaye, a golf community that overlooks the Jordanelle Reservoir.
He will also head the development of the extensive Talisker Club amenities and membership program.
Thompson has lived in Colorado his entire life, he says, and has headed Vail Resorts Development, the company’s real estate arm, for 17 years. During that time, Thompson oversaw Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone ski resorts, and helped redevelop Jackson Hole Golf and Tennis Club in Jackson Hole, Wyo., as well as the company’s employee housing program.
In addition, he was instrumental in the development of the Red Sky Ranch golf community near Beaver Creek, with courses designed by Tom Fazio and Gregg Norman and Arrowhead at Vail, which features a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course and the Arrowhead Alpine Club.
In July, Thompson agreed to do consulting work for Talisker, he says, and over the months, became more and more involved with the direction of development.
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"I became quite infatuated with the whole idea [of Talisker] I was very enthused about the property and I also thought [Bistricer] had an incredible commitment to quality," he recalls. "He eventually said, ‘why don’t you just come here and do this full-time,’ and I said, ‘let’s do this.’"
The climate, the mountains and the work at Talisker feels familiar to Thompson, who has built private ski and golf clubs in Vail, which have 4,000 members now, he says.
"I told Jack that every development like this has its challenges, but this is not hard for me. I’ve done all this," Thompson explained.
Talisker’s plan is to have club membership tied to purchasing the real estate they develop. Membership includes access to Talisker’s Tuhaye golf course, the Empire Clubhouse and in the future, an on-mountain dining facility at Deer Valley.
Already Thompson feels comfortable in Park City it reminds him of Vail five years ago, he says, though he believes real estate is going to "boom here even more."
While Vail fights Interstate 70, which runs right through its town, he finds Park City feels more like a town.
"Park City’s got locals, and tourists and schools and it’s got Main Street," he observes. "A lot of people in Vail never go to Vail. They go skiing on Vail’s mountain, but they don’t go into town much."
Thompson agrees with Talisker’s environmentally-sensitive philosophy.
"What a good mountain developer always worries about is whether he’s going to mess up the land, so we spend a lot of time trying to make sure that what we’re doing is going to be compatible with the surrounding properties and an enormous amount of time and money trying to make it work with the property," he said.
When it comes to developing property, Thompson’s vision is of a unique and architecturally-controlled community. He worries about the "homogenization of America" the look-a-like Main Streets that can, in some cases, also produce look-a-like neighborhoods. At times, towns can look so much alike that, Thompson observes, "you can sometimes go to one ski resort to the next and you don’t know one from the other."
It is therefore important that resorts try to keep their personality despite the rush and convenience of other facilities made available, he concludes.
As he did with the 1,500-acre ski-in, ski-out Bachelor Gulch on Beaver Creek Mountain and 1,700-acre Arrowhead at Vail, a community at the foot of Beaver Creek Mountain, Thompson plans to stay true to his commitment to an architectural style that is unique within a town’s environment.
Thompson says he has admired Park City and Deer Valley for quite some time, and adds that some of what he has learned from visiting has influenced his decisions in Colorado.
"I learned a lot from Deer Valley studying its ski-in, ski-out," he says. "The properties that we’ve owned in Vail were phenomenal properties and I believe Talisker’s assets here are on par It’s just a good marriage overall."
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