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Deer Valley, Mayflower leaders ‘making great inroads’ toward ski lift agreement

Mayflower Mountain Resort
Ben Lasseter
/
KPCW
The Mayflower Mountain Resort has already cleared tracks above its main construction area. It's only a small portion of the 4,000 acres of skiable terrain planned at the resort.

Although the Mayflower Mountain Resort and Deer Valley haven’t reached an agreement on operating the new resort’s lifts, their administrators say they could strike a deal soon.

As construction crews carve new ski runs in Wasatch County mountains and build residences at the Mayflower Mountain Resort, plans for getting skiers on the mountain are underway.

Development company Extell Utah is aiming for a soft opening in the winter of 2024 and 2025. To do that, it needs to partner with a lift operator, and executives say next-door-neighbor Deer Valley is a primary candidate.

“We're making great inroads,” said Mark Brownlie, Deer Valley interim Chief Operating Officer and COO of parent company Alterra. “We have great communication going with Extell and Mayflower, and the Mayflower project is something that we're very interested in — only if it's additive to Deer Valley.”

He said one of the main questions he’s received is whether snowboarders would ever be allowed at Deer Valley. As of now, he said there’s no plan to change the skiers-only tradition.

“We're very committed to Deer Valley being a skiing resort, and we think it's part of the brand. And that's what we hear from our people,” Brownlie said.

Extell’s position is that if the companies partner to run the ski lifts, Deer Valley will call the shots.

“You know, if we do something with Deer Valley, they are going to run it, they are going to be in control of all things skiing,” said Gary Barnett, Extell Development Company founder and chairman. “We’re not going to tell them what to do.”

But he did have an idea for how to manage snowboarding.

“This gives them enough terrain that they could, you know, segment and say, ‘You know what, instead of 600 acres, we now have 1,500 skiable acres, and we can take 300 acres and make them available — certain runs for snowboarders only,” Barnett said. “That's just my idea. I'm talking as a complete layman. The decision’s going to be theirs, for sure.”

Barnett also responded to questions about whether the resort will have enough snow on its slopes for full ski seasons.

Locals have expressed concerns that snow at the base area of the mountain visible from U.S. Highway 40 often disappears sooner than at other established resorts nearby.

Barnett said most of the skiable terrain will be on north-facing slopes, where he said snowmaking won’t be required. He said the resort will be able to make snow to cover all other areas necessary to last full seasons.

Plans at the Mayflower include building 15 lifts servicing its 4,000 total acres of skiable area. Extell Utah executives have said recently they hoped to reach an agreement with a ski lift operator by the end of the year.

Ben Lasseter reports for KPCW in Wasatch County. Before moving to Heber City, Ben worked in Manti as a general assignment newspaper reporter and editor.
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