Firm behind Mayflower Mountain Resort hires former Vail Resorts executive as construction on the property’s first hotel could begin next month
The developer behind the planned Mayflower Mountain Resort announced Thursday it was hiring a ski-industry veteran and former Vail Resorts executive vice president as a high-level ski consultant.
The move comes at a time when construction is ramping up at the site, with crews moving earth to grade roads, building a pedestrian tunnel and installing a million-gallon water tank.
Work on the project’s first hotel could begin as soon as next month, said Brooke Hontz, Extell Development Company’s vice president of development.
While the physical infrastructure is starting to take shape, how the ski resort will be operated remains unclear. The resort is planned on land adjacent to Deer Valley Resort, which is owned by Vail Resorts’ main competitor, Alterra Mountain Company. There is currently not an agreement for Deer Valley to operate the Mayflower terrain, however, despite a longstanding perception that the terrain would one day be a part of Deer Valley.
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Hontz said hiring Chris Jarnot, a former Vail Resorts executive, is not an indication that Vail Resorts will operate Mayflower as opposed to Alterra, but rather that Extell is staffing up to tackle the enormous workload of starting a ski resort from the ground up.
“His expertise is probably unparalleled,” she added.
The Wasatch County Building Department has been weighing the building permit for the project’s first hotel since October, and Hontz said she hopes it will be granted by the end of this month.
That’s the project that would contain the U.S. Air Force Morale, Welfare and Recreation project, a bank of 100 hotel rooms in a 387-room, 643,000-square-foot hotel in the proposed resort base area.
In total, the resort is entitled to 1,560 residential units, another 800 in hotel rooms and suites and 250,000 square feet of commercial space. It has set aside 95,000 square feet for workforce housing and plans a 68,000-square-foot recreation center that would be open to the public.
Plans tentatively call for five ski lifts, two magic carpet conveyors and a potential connecting lift to Deer Valley.
According to a press release announcing Jarnot’s hiring, ski lifts from the resort’s base are slated to be operational for the 2022-23 ski season, while complete build-out is anticipated to occur over the next two decades with the majority of the infrastructure completed in anticipation of the potential 2030 Olympic Games.
Jarnot had a 34-year career with Colorado-based Vail Resorts before stepping down at the end of last year, according to an August press release. He held various leadership positions, the release states, including as the chief operating officer of Vail Mountain and as the executive vice president overseeing the company’s five Colorado resorts and one in Australia.
As of Friday morning, Jarnot’s LinkedIn profile lists him as “happily unemployed” at Skiing, Fishing and Being a Dad, LLC.
Hontz said Jarnot’s role with Extell is still being fleshed out.
“We honestly are still ferreting out exactly what (his job) is on day to day,” Hontz said. “Because of how much we’ve got to tackle we’re — there’s a great opportunity for him. … There are things that he’s really great at that he’s going to want to focus on so we’re still figuring out the day to day.”
In August, Deer Valley and Extell signed a 199-year lease extension for land owned by Extell under several Deer Valley lifts, which carries forward a provision to connect the two resorts.
There is a lift planned to rise from the Mayflower base high enough to connect to Deer Valley terrain. Hontz explained the deal is that both Deer Valley and Mayflower skiers would be able to use that lift, but that if the two resorts are operated as separate entities, skiers would only be able to access terrain allowed by the pass they hold.
The Mayflower land had long been contemplated as another Deer Valley base area, not as a separate resort. Hontz said Extell’s talks with Deer Valley are ongoing and that the parties are in a “good place” but that the conversation isn’t done yet.
“The language in the initial lease was very vague in terms of the relationship. It kind of left it open — that it could be two resorts, it could be one,” she said. “I think it’s kind of funny that this many years later we still haven’t sorted that out. But it is exactly what we had then, which is ‘Maybe.’”
Hontz added that Jarnot’s years at Vail Resorts diversifies the team’s experience.
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