Mammoth Mountain CEO Mark Brownlie graciously gave me a tour on Thursday of various mountain projects – a capital improvements update.
And no, the up & down escalators at Canyon Lodge are not being counted as two additional lifts.
Renovations have given Canyon a lot nicer vibe. Frankly, the whole mountain’s got it. There’s a buzz in Mammoth right now. You can feel it.
Snow certainly helps. And the idea they’re taking your money and plowing it back into some improvements. That helps, too.
As Brownlie joked (and then half-regretted it when he saw me writing it down), “Telling people where the restrooms are [at Canyon] is a new feature for this building.”
In other words, Canyon Lodge has actual signage.
Brownlie noted that the Mountain’s NPS (Net Promoter Scores), which already skew towards the high end within the ski industry, are up significantly so far this year.
In 2017-2018, Mammoth’s average NPS was an 85.
This year, the resort is averaging an 89.
As Brownlie said, guys like Nicholas “Moose” Swiatek, a Food and Beverage General Manager, are on the front lines making this happen.
Brownlie then told a story from a years ago when Moose, who was running 53 Kitchen at the time, picked up snowbound employees via snowmobile to get them to work so that all the snowbound people staying in the Village at Mammoth would have a place to eat.
In turn, the feeling from visitors has been reciprocal.
Again from Brownlie: “The day we opened the top, people got off the gondola, super-excited. They rushed halfway down the stairs, and then they did something I’ve never seen before. They turned around, ran back up the stairs, poked their heads inside the ski patrol room, thanked the patrol guys for getting it open, and then went skiing.”
As of Monday, Dec. 10, Mammoth was also up 7% year-over-year in room bookings.
One thing to look for starting this holiday season. There will be food service at the bottom of Chair 4. Mammoth plans to put a food truck down there, which it has named the “Lunchbox.” It will serve chicken, steak and veggie cheesesteak options. Beer and wine will also be available.
And as we all know, anything with Lunch in it is bound to be terrific.
Meanwhile, in industry news, the Wall Street Journal reported this week that Vail Resorts stock price crashed last Friday after posting a larger-than-expected quarterly loss.
The stock, which traded at a record close of approximately $301 per share in September, closed at $221 per share Thursday, a 27% plunge.
The article, which appeared this past Tuesday, states that Vail has spent about $1.4 billion in resort acquisitions in recent years, and that the “recent quarterly loss was partially driven by costs related to new resorts.”
But the article then goes on to talk about something else Vail is dealing with: serious competition.
Alterra is cited as a likely reason for a retreat in season pass sales for Vail’s Northern California properties.
“This new competitor [Alterra] has a very compelling lineup,” said Tyler Batory, an analyst at Janney Montgomery Scott.
Vail Resorts still enjoys a market capitalization of approximately $9 billion.
Mammoth Community Water District (MCWD) settled its lawsuit against Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District (GBUAPCD) on Thursday.
The parties have filed a joint stipulation to dismiss pending litigation.
The dispute began in the fall of 2013 over Ormat Inc.’s Casa Diablo IV geothermal wells, which MCWD claimed could taint the Mammoth Lakes water supply. GPUAPCD had approval power for Casa Diablo IV project and approved Ormat’s plans. In response, MCWD filed litigation against GPUAPD and the two have been dancing since.
In the statement issued on Thursday evening, MCWD’s General Manager Pat Hayes said, “Going forward, our customers will be best served by us focusing on delivering solutions that are within our control. To that end, we will be acquiring additional well sites and drilling more production wells to provide alternate supply should we lose existing wells.”
GBUAPCD Air Pollution Control Officer Phillip Kiddoo’s statement was optimistic, “Great Basin is looking forward to having litigation behind us and pursuing cooperative interagency discussions with the MCWD.”
A recent feature story penned by Jeremy Jacobs which appeared in October in E&E (Energy and Environment) News stated that MCWD “has spent $1.7 million on lawsuits, PR and consultants” related to the Ormat issue.
Refilling the bucket
Mammoth Lakes Tourism voted on Monday to return ~$61,000 of the $250,000 that it withdrew last month from its “Joint Bucket” of funds with the town. The funds were withdrawn for an emergency marketing campaign entitled “Operation Snow Blitz,” meant to ensure holiday bookings despite poor early snow conditions compared to Colorado.
The non-profit was able to exceed their projected impressions for the marketing campaign while staying under budget.
“This disaster was averted,” said MLT board-member Kirk Schaubmayer.
“There was an immediate uptick in reservations at our place.” Board Chairman Scott McGuire and Mammoth Mayor Cleland Hoff led the charge to return the funds to the reserve fund. McGuire felt that returning the funds was not only the right thing to do, but would act as a sign of fiscal responsibility.
“This says to the community that we will ask for this money when we need it, and if we don’t spend it we will give it back,” McGuire said.
“It will build trust.”
Cleland Hoff said that town council approved this withdrawal for a specific purpose, and now that the purpose has been accomplished she would like to see the remainder returned.
“I will look a lot more kindly on MLT’s next requests if this money is returned… Otherwise I would feel jerked around.”
The decision to return the funds was unanimous.
Kelly leaves, Kelly arrives
While General John F. Kelly is no longer serving as President Trump’s Chief of Staff, another Kelly has arrived to take the reins as Bishop’s City Administrator.
David Kelly officially started work on Tuesday.
David and his wife, Jernon are from Surprise, Arizona, which is located 35 miles west of Phoenix, where he served as Assistant Public Works Director.
At one time, Mr. Kelly said he was a City Administrator for a small town in Washington state.
Kelly said that he has 20 years of experience in local government.
“I just want to do a lot of listening to the Council, City employees, [and] the Mayor,” he said. “We’re just excited to be here, and get to know the community,” David Kelly said.
Hopefully David Kelly’s experience in Bishop proves better than Gen. Kelly’s in Washington.
In June of this year, Mr. Kelly reportedly told visiting senators that the White House was a miserable place to work.
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