Yesterday, I decided my career has shifted from real estate broker to crisis counselor. Sellers are coming to the reality of the current micro and macro economics. But with the big “un-veiling” of the Westin in North Village, I had to go take a look. After all, it’s been hiding under a plastic bag for many months. (I was warned about the plastic bag syndrome in my college days.) The structure is clearly the most imposing in Mammoth––and it should be––it is the tallest and largest to date. What is more amazing to me is that I know is has three levels of concrete lined parking underneath it––I stood there and watched the first “pours” into its bowels.
An ad in last Saturday’s The Sheet advertised a job fair for a multitude of jobs at the new Westin. I saw it for myself but several members of the real estate community mentioned it also. That was telling. It reminded me of 1981 when I was hired to train waiters at the new Charthouse in Mammoth. Many of the trainees were also “real estate agents”. There were 335 agents in town at that time and I think the population was half of what it is today. Little did I know then how history would repeat (or remind). For me, I‘m eyeing the doorman’s position at the job fair. My regular readers know I’ve been eyeing the doorman job at one of Mammoth’s future high-end hotels. Yes, it is a little premature––I’ve got at least another 10 years of real estate in me. But I really want the 4:00 to midnight shift. I’m just dying to open the door for all those pretty ladies knowing that this geezer got the snow their arrogant boyfriend or husband only dreams about getting. Of course, they were probably still in bed.
So I checked out the new Westin, at least the front and entry (the rest is still covered in plastic.) Well, ho hum. It’s a large structure covered predominately by what appears to be acrylic stucco (blink: Intrawest/cheap.) Some almost-real-appearing rock is blasély applied to the lower levels. They could have at least given it some design. The new John Hooper built townhomes across the street are far more attractive––at least the Westin guests will have a positive final impression as they depart in their taxi.
Now before I give anyone the impression that this is just another Intrawest cheaped-out nightmare, let me state that in order to get the Westin license (that will triple the value of course), that all of the Westin “standards” have to be met. From a physical plant standpoint, the Westin is superior to anything that has been built in Mammoth to date. (If you really want to own a condo hotel unit in the Village, forget everything else, at least for now.) First, the property will have true ventilation like a real hotel, a first in the Village and the biggest complaint with all the prior-built condo hotel units in Mammoth. The structure is primarily a concrete structure with triple pane windows––all designed to dampen the noise. (Laka-what?)
More importantly is that Intrawest brought a real hospitality expert in to run the show. And not only that, he’s been here to make sure the facility is finished to accomplish the goal––a proactive approach rather than a reactive approach. Mr. James McGillivray was recruited from Blue Mountain outside of Ontario to fill this role. He is a graduate of the prestigious Cornell school of Hotel and Restaurant Management. (I met with him and his wife more than a year ago at their request to introduce them to the community. I have no doubt they ditched me quick after they discovered what an anti-Intrawest grouch I am. At least I gave them sound advice and told them to rent for awhile before buying.)
Mr. McGillvray may be the first REAL hospitality professional brought to Mammoth. I have no doubt the Westin standards commanded it. Now he’s just got to find the staff and make sure they show up for work. I’m sure he’d be afraid to hire me as a doorman. I do wish him well. And FYI, there are, and will be, Westin units available to purchase. But as I have counseled before, only buy the best in the project. And I really am looking forward to sitting at the bar and having a drink––that is if they let me past the door.
Meanwhile, rumors persist that Barry Sternlicht and Starwood Capital is (or already has) selling/sold out of Mammoth. But we all know about Mammoth and rumors. In the age of private equity and hedge funds we could only expect such drama. Stay tuned.