Proposed Mayflower Mountain Resort is a boon to Utah skiing

A massive, new 5,600-acre ski resort is coming to the Wasatch Mountains of Utah near Park City, and the proposed project is slated to be the largest ski resort development in the United States in almost four decades.

The development – tentatively named Mayflower Mountain Resort – will offer between 400 and 900 acres of new skiable terrain on the backside of Deer Valley Resort near the Deer Crest subdivision, and is slated to open for the 2021-22 ski season. The new north-facing ski trails would face the nearby Jordanelle Reservoir.

The planned ski resort is the largest such development in the United States since Beaver Creek opened in Colorado in 1980. Full construction of the crescent-shaped resort is proposed to take between 15 years and 45 years, according to officials at New York-based Extell Development, the real estate firm behind the project. However, builders are already on site, making infrastructure improvements to prepare for the installation of the first ski lifts in summer 2020. Plans call for a up to a total of seven new lifts, or potentially five lifts and two magic carpet conveyors.

The proposed village at Mayflower Mountain Resort would include a total of three hotels and plenty of shopping and dining. (Rendering courtesy of Extell Development.)
The proposed village at Mayflower Mountain Resort would include a total of three hotels and plenty of shopping and dining. (Rendering courtesy of Extell Development.)

At the planned Mayflower Village, guests can choose between a five-star hotel, a four-star hotel and several stacked condominiums, according to Extell Development. There will be a total of three hotels with a total of about 800 rooms. Add on the proposed condominiums, townhouses and single-family private homes in the area, and lodging could total as much as 1,560 residential units once fully developed, official said.  The first hotel is scheduled to open in March 2022.

There is also a 40,000-square-foot convention center and a 68,000-square-foot recreation center that will be open to the public as part of the plan, officials said. The top of the village will offer a number of luxury retail shops, pubs and bars, fine dining and a large ski area for beginners.  Plans also call for an outdoor concert/movie venue, alpine coaster, ice skating rink, sledding hills, skate park, off-road bicycle track, mini golf course, zip lines and what’s being touted as the world’s largest “ski beach.” Officials have also included plenty of affordable housing for resort workers as part of the plan. 

With Alta, Deer Valley and Park City among the top resorts in North America, the addition of Mayflower Mountain Resort would further solidify Utah’s stake as a skiing Mecca.  Skiers and snowboarders love the huge powder days in Utah, not to mention the easy commute from Salt Lake City International Airport. Many ski resorts are within an hour’s drive from the airport. Developers are hoping the popularity continues in decades to come, with hopes of landing a Winter Olympics in 2030 or 2034. Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, with several mountain events held in Park City and Deer Valley.

Still plenty of questions

Recently, Extell Development signed a 199-year lease with Alterra Mountain Company, the owner of Deer Valley Resort. The agreement sets the stage for a possible connection between the two ski resorts in the future, official said.  The lease enables the connection of the two resorts, but the future of the relationship between Mayflower Mountain Resort and Deer Valley remains uncertain.

Officials are still determining who will operate the resort, what many parts of the resort will be named, and where the lifts will be located. There has been talk of Mayflower Mountain Resort operating as sort of an eastern base for Deer Valley Resort rather than operating independently. Extell Development and Alterra Mountain Company have agreed on a lease agreement, but have yet to come to terms on an operations agreement.

The size and scope of the project has also drawn some criticism, since the land has remained undeveloped for decades, but officials said there has always been plans to use the land for a future expansion of Deer Valley.  The development will most definitely reshape the landscape along U.S. Highway 40 and the nearby Jordanelle Reservoir.

Another question is whether the new resort will allow snowboarding. Deer Valley Resort currently prohibits snowboarding on its slopes.

MIDA touch

The resort plan calls for 100 subsidized rooms to be offered to active and retired military personnel at reduced rates as part of a state Military Installation Development Authority (MIDA) program. The incentive offers the developers a portion of the property tax generated in exchange for reduced fees for all branches of military personnel.  The idea is to allow military families to enjoy an affordable ski vacation.

The MIDA was formed in 2007 to manage about 550 acres of land on Hill Air Force Base near Ogden. The land covers several city and county entities, so MIDA was created as an overreaching authority to handle potential issues.  Over the years, MIDA has grown to include more land holdings over the years. MIDA cannot levy taxes, but can collect and distribute takes inside the project area, hence the reason for the growth.

MIDA became involved in the Mayflower Mountain Resort development after it requested proposals for a military recreation facility to replace Hill Haus at Snowbasin, which was shuttered prior to the 2002 Winter Olympics.

The hotel will be a marked improvement from the former Hill Haus, according to officials.  Tentatively named the Conference Hotel, it is planned to be eight stories tall and have a total of 388 guest rooms along with around 75,000 square feet of conference and retail space.  Groundbreaking is scheduled from spring 2020.

Once businesses, homes and hotels are constructed, land values will increase, resulting in more tax revenue, officials said. MIDA keeps 75 percent of the increased tax revenue for the next 25 years, and will use it to pay for capital improvement projects such as ski lifts and roads. It will raise funds by selling bonds prior to the tax benefit accrual. Officials said all taxing jurisdictions, including the local school district and Wasatch County, will continue to receive the same taxes on the land, even while development is ongoing.