Lot 161 CR

An aerial view of Lot 161C-R near the gondola station in Mountain Village. (Courtesy image)

The Four Seasons, an internationally recognized luxury hotel and resort brand, is coming to Mountain Village, at least that’s the plan, as the Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association (TMVOA) Board of Directors unanimously approved a purchase-sale agreement with developers Merrimac Ventures during its regular meeting Wednesday afternoon.

“We are now underway with the development of Lot 161 with a world-class developer, a substantial financial partner, and we look forward to moving through that process,” board chair Jim Royer said.

Board directors who work at Telski — Chad Horning, Jeff Proteau and Tom Richards — did not participate in the vote. Recently appointed director Abbott Smith recused himself due to “family ties” with one of the developers.

The 2.8 acre property, Lot 161C-R, sits to the northeast of the gondola transfer station abutting the Village Core. TMVOA purchased the lot for $8.1 million in 2015 and sold it to Merrimac for $9 million — a price that reflects the money TMVOA spent on legal fees during litigation with nearby Ridge property owners since the initial purchase.

“We went through a long and structured period of negotiating a settlement so that we can get all of the confusion expunged from the title of Lot 161,” Royer said, calling the process a “Gordian knot.”

Merrimac Ventures President and CEO Dev Motwani plans to partner with Nadim Ashi of Fort Partners. The two are currently co-developing Florida’s Four Seasons Fort Lauderdale. Ashi also owns the Four Seasons Palm Beach and the Four Seasons Surf Club.

“We are excited to move forward with this project and bring an amazing luxury resort and residences to Mountain Village and the Telluride market. We have spent the last few years studying the market and truly believe this is the best ski town in North America,” Dev Motwani said in a TMVOA news release.

TMVOA’s Board-of-Managers for CO Lot negotiated the purchase-sale agreement with Motwani over the past two years.

“The entire Board-of-Managers are extremely pleased to have secured the PSA with such a qualified and experienced developer” board members Royer, Tim Kunda and David Mehl said in the release.

The hotel will also include a restaurant and spa “consistent with the standards of a luxury hotel brand,” TMVOA explained. Per the agreement with the Ridge residents, which was signed in 2019, there will also be 36 parking spaces, access to the gondola, and an area for loading and unloading materials on the property.

“Neither side got what they wanted; both sides got what they needed,” Royer said Wednesday.

If construction of a Four Seasons is not feasible for whatever reason, TMVOA has a back-up list of similar companies, which has not been shared publicly, that it would choose from.

“I can assure you that all of the alternative brands are five-star internationally recognized hotels, but the primary purpose of the effort will be to develop a Four Seasons,” Royer said.

The land has been considered well suited for a luxury hotel, and feedback received during a town planning program, which included Mountain Village, Telski and TMVOA, supported the idea, Royer said.

“In that planning program it became overwhelmingly apparent that residents, owners in Mountain Village, were interested in having a development of a flagship hotel or internationally recognized boutique hotel on that site, so TMVOA felt comfortable in pursuing the development and sale of that property,” he said.

No timeline for construction or completion has been publicly announced yet, though the hotel, along with its amenities, will benefit the area, Royer added.

“We expect the final product to be a very important addition to the Mountain Village and Telluride community,” he said.

TMVOA President and CEO Anton Benitez said more details will be shared whenever they’re available.

In other development news, Benitez explained that the organization is looking to build affordable housing on lots in the Timberview area of the Meadows and Lawson Hill. Both potential projects are in the preliminary stages, but board members agreed more regional affordable housing is crucial.

Similarly, Horning shared an update regarding Telski’s ongoing affordable housing plans.

“The ski company is taking a little bit more of leadership role in working through the workforce housing issues in the region. We’ve begun discussions with the Town of Telluride, a little bit with the Town of Mountain Village and the Forest Service on sites that are in all of those jurisdictions, and we’re working diligently on those,” he said. “The issues around employee housing are acute. We have real quality of life issues. We’re getting into mental health issues. … It’s just a big priority of mine personally that we be a leader to figure that out. I think TMVOA can be a leader in that as well.

Director John Volponi applauded the efforts, especially since the projects would create more housing options in the Mountain Village and Telluride areas.

“It’s a hugely crucial issue not only for attracting but retaining employees. I’m glad to hear we’re working on some options closer to Telluride and Mountain Village because I don’t believe that the solution is building housing that is 45 minutes to two hours away. That certainly impacts their quality of life,” he said.

Also during Wednesday’s meeting, Horning was named the new board chair in receiving votes from Proteau, Richards and Smith. Royer, who became chair after Bill Jensen’s departure in August, will now be vice chair, replacing Proteau.