Rusty Gregory’s plan includes resort’s own identity
Mammoth Mountain opened this week with high hopes of a good snow year. A few miles up U.S. 395, however, the June Lake community’s hopes are pinned on the words of one man.
Mammoth Mountain CEO Rusty Gregory and his executive management team spoke to a packed community center at Tuesday’s June Lake Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting. The topic: what to expect for June Mountain this year.
“It’s been about a year and a half since the closure meeting,” Gregory said, referring to the June 2012 meeting where he dropped the bomb to the community that June Mountain would not open for the 2012-13-winter season due to economic factors. “I want to be accountable and look at what we can do as a community to help one another.”
Gregory laid out the three-point plan for June Mountain. First, he dispelled rumors about an abbreviated operating season for the Mountain, scheduled to open Dec. 13.
“We are absolutely opening,” Gregory said. As for rumors that June would only open for the holidays and then close again, Gregory said that was untrue. “As long as there is snow, of course, June will be open for its full season,” he said.
That season will include a few new perks such as kids 12 and under ski free, no strings attached.
“No one else is doing this,” explained MMSA Chief Marketing Officer Erik Forsell. He said that while some other resorts had free skiing for kids, they all had caveats.
“June will have no asterisks or blackouts like other resorts,” Forsell said about the deal.
Another perk, June Mountain Season Passes (which you can purchase at a discounted price this Saturday, Nov. 9 at the Double Eagle Resort between 2-7 p.m., see details at the end of this article) will be valid at Mammoth Mountain April 21, 2014 through the end of the Mammoth Mountain Winter Season. The planned closing date for June Mountain is April 20, 2014.
In addition, Forsell and the rest of the group spoke of capitalizing on the might of MMSA’s marketing resources to help promote June.
“We’ll be marketing [June] directly to the Mammoth audience via emails to our two million person database,” he said. “We will also have persistent navigation on our web pages for June.”
Plans are also underway to bring back June’s mascot, Bucky the Deer who will make an appearance at June’s opening day and throughout the season.
Opening Day will also be $10 “We’re Open” Friday with all of the proceeds from that day going back to the community.
As for the other two points of the three-point plan, Gregory said following the opening of June, his team will then go to work on getting the necessary approvals to move forward with snowmaking and putting a lift up the face.
“We’re not putting a new lift up the face of Mammoth until we put one up on June,” he said.
Gregory said he hoped to have permits ready by summer 2014 to then be able to do the analysis for these projects.
“If things go perfectly, we can start construction in summer 2015,” he added.
Lastly, Gregory said he and his team would look to work with the community on developing transient units.
“We need a bed base in June so that people aren’t always just driving up from Mammoth,” Gregory explained. He estimated the need for about 1,000 new rooms.
“In the past we never made an effort to differentiate June,” Gregory said. “It was always supposed to be a connector or overflow. It’s not appropriate to market it as simply overflow, especially now with faster chairs at Mammoth creating shorter lines.”
Gregory again referred to the plan to make June a family resort.
“Mammoth is not the best place to ski with kids, it’s busy and big,” he said.
“We have the opportunity to do something at June that we can’t do at Mammoth,” added Chief Operating Officer for Mammoth and June, Greg Dallas. “Mammoth has to be all things to all people, but at June we can focus and own the experience of families with young children.”
Dallas said there would be a big focus on safety at June, plus a revamp of food and beverage to have more kid options. New concepts on how to teach terrain to beginners would also be part of the process.
“That’s the plan,” Gregory said. “We think it’s a good community plan and a good business plan. We need to attract enough people to support two ski areas and give people a variety of options.”
Gregory said that the focus would need to be on how to make June prosper.
“Part of that is that Mammoth needs to like June and June needs to like Mammoth,” he said.
He clarified, however, that Mammoth did not plan to talk about June all the time.
“There’s a fine line to mention both, but we have to differentiate, too,” he said. “We will talk about it [June] to drive the business but June needs to have its own brand that hangs with Mammoth.”