I received the following text this week:
“I heard Jim Demetriades of Rafters had an opening for his $50 million, five-star hotel in Tahoe with the Mayor there … how about a picture of it and a thank you Mammoth for the 56 hearings.”
The text refers to Nancy and Jim Demetriades, who hosted the grand opening of The Landing Resort and Spa in South Lake Tahoe two weekends ago.
The day it opened, The Landing became Tahoe’s only five-star property.
While it is true that the Demetriades’s, who own the Sierra Nevada Resort and Spa in Mammoth, spent a fair chunk of change on the Landing, Demetriades would only confirm that it’s not $50 million.
He did say that the timeline from land purchase to project completion for The Landing was approximately 24 months. He contrasted that with the 48-month (and 50-plus public hearings) timeline he experienced in Mammoth from land purchase to project approval – a project that was never actually built once the window of opportunity was slammed shut by the Great Recession.
What Demetriades chose to do instead was to renovate the existing Mammoth property. This is also the path he took in Tahoe, where he renovated what was essentially a rundown motel which happened to have an exceptional beachfront location.
As Demetriades said, he eliminated 24 stairwells and all the carports, added elevators, a restaurant, a spa, a workout facility, a conference facility and an outdoor terrace.
The property comes with its own private beach.
It is located three blocks from the casinos, three blocks from the nearest ski lift (Heavenly), three blocks from the best retail shopping experience in Tahoe and three blocks from a PGA golf course.
The property is a fifty-minute commute from Reno Airport. It is also, Lunch notes, less than a thirty minute drive from the historic Genoa Bar in Genoa, Nevada, and Brent Truax, General Manager for The Landing as well as Sierra Nevada Resort, says he can drive door-to-door from Mammoth in 2:12.
Demetriades touted the hospitality and customer service in South Lake Tahoe, something which Lunch experienced firsthand.
On Saturday morning, Lunch and his CPA Chris Farrens, who drove down from Bend, Oregon for the opening, decided it was a beautiful day for … paddle boarding on Lake Tahoe.
The concierge called the Paddle Board shop, which was closed for the season, but … owner Chris Brackett decided to rent us a few boards anyway – he even got on a board himself to get some souvenir photos.
As Demetriades observed, “Mammoth could have some amazing projects, but the Town has been so anti-development in such a vociferous way …”
He pointed to the 450 underground parking spaces the Town demanded he build as part of his redevelopment proposal. “That’s just a spectacular number. It’s not economically feasible.”
He said the cost of building that parking alone is just about what he spent on the Tahoe project in its entirety.
He does not discount Mammoth and readily acknowledges that he’s spent far more in Mammoth than he has in Tahoe. “I will continue to invest in Mammoth,” he says. “The skiing is better. The outdoors are pristine.”
But he also says that Mammoth is hamstrung by its accessibility issues, and that the airport is a severely limiting factor.
He noted that Tahoe’s local regional airport was ultimately closed because of inconsistent flight patterns and a limited base of local traffic (sounds a lot like Mammoth), but Tahoe had the luxury of falling back on Reno.
The problem of inconsistency in flight schedules locally could be alleviated if Bishop Airport were developed, he said.
And from Vane’s desk …
Town Council approved the 2013 Measure U Fall Award funding recommendations to the tune of $591,105 at Wednesday night’s Town Council meeting. Another $300,000 of the Fall Award will go toward a capital reserve account, while the remaining $58,506 fund balance will carry over to the Spring Award cycle.
Award recipients included events such as the Mammoth Food and Wine Experience, Jazz Jubilee, VillageFest, Sierra Summer Festival, Kamikaze Bike Games, Mammoth Rocks, and Summer Shakespeare in the Woods. Capital and program award recipients included Mammoth Lakes Foundation, for both the Mammoth Lakes Repertory Theatre and a Performing Arts Center Planning Grant, and the Town, for Roller Rink operations and special event trolley funding.
During the Measure U Application Committee workshop beforehand, Council member Matthew Lehman questioned the $67,000 allocation to the Repertory Theater. “It just seems like an awful lot of money,” he said.
MLF President and CEO Evan Russell disagreed. He argued that Measure U originally passed as a ballot measure because of the arts and culture component. “We never once told people that this was for economic stimulus,” he said.
Russell went on to give Council members an explanation for the $25,000 Performing Arts Center Planning Grant. MLF aims to build a $3-4 million sprung structure facility at Cerro Coso Community College that would double as a performing arts and events center. The goal would be to open by July of 2015.
The $25,000 would go toward architectural design and planning. This, said Russell, is key to helping the sprung structure avoid becoming another Mammoth Ice Rink, Russell said. “If we don’t know how it’s going to operate and what it’s going to do, it just won’t work,” he said.