Cloudrock? or cloudrot?
A new ultra-exclusive development is casting a "cloud on the rocks."
By Jim Stiles

      Many Grand County residents have recently learned of a proposed new development, south of Moab on Johnson's Up-On-Top. It's called Cloudrock, a "high-end" resort lodge and community of expensive hotels, condominiums and homes.  The project is being coordinated by Michael D. Liss, president of the Moab Mesa Land Company, a subsidiary of Butterfield & Robinson, which, according to Mr. Liss is "one of the top names in the luxury travel business."  Cloudrock ultimately calls for the construction of three luxury lodges with a total of 198 rooms, 50 condos and 70 homesites. According to Liss, homesites will begin at about $600,000.  Mr. Liss, at a meeting of the Grand County Planning & Zoning Commission, took issuue with those people who claimed his resort was "elitist."  Liss noted that the Olympics are elitist because they are simply trying to be "the best that they can be."  That, Mr. Liss insists, is all that Cloudrock seeks to achieve.  He also concedes, it will take a little money. So how "elitist" will Cloudrock be? The Zephyr has obtained a copy of the Mesa Land Company's Development Proposal to the State Institutional Trust Lands Administration. What follows (in italics) are excerpts taken directly from the plan...


Our intention is to create a world-class wilderness destination resort community in the American Southwest for people who enjoy the natural beauty and cultural legacy of this region...The 
centerpiece of this community is Cloudrock Desert Lodge, an intimate luxury wilderness lodge that will set the tone and standard for the entire development. Our initial marketing efforts will focus on establishing an international awareness of Cloudrock and its location in Southeastern Utah...We expect our guests to return time and time again, finally deciding that this is they want to own a second or third home (sic). The high-end positioning of the lodge and its associated service amenities will serve to deliver top prices for the homesites and condominiums...We plan to spend the time, money and creative energy necessary from the inception to create real estate 
development that will deliver top prices.

REGIONAL MARKET:  We will use a highly targeted approach, planning intimate get-togethers at the homes of our friends and initial clients, as many second-home real estate purchasers are often as interested in who their eventual neighbors might be as in the property itself. (NOTE: And now a Zephyr editorial opinion:  WOW. Read THAT one again. Did he REALLY say that?) 

SITE SEARCH & SELECTION CRITERIA:  Proximity to Town: An interesting town should be within a one-hour drive of the site. While we are selling wilderness, our clientele really don't want complete isolation. They will appreciate the opportunity to pop into town for shopping or a meal on their own.  Cultural Heritage:  The site should be near places  of great cultural and historical significance.  Major archaeological sites will serve as an important marketing draw.  Smaller 
undisturbed sites will add to the sense of adventure and discovery.
THE positioned to take full advantage of the immediate views of Mill Creek Canyon, and the broader surrounding vistas of the La Sal Mountains and Arches National Park.... The success of the development hinges on the control of the mesa in its entirety.  The potential development of less sensitively conceived or lower-priced projects on the mesa would greatly diminish the overall value of the lodges and homesites.

We hope to create value with strict protective covenants and dedicated conservation zones...We 
believe this strategy will allow us to charge significantly more for each condominium and 
homesite offered for sale.  We reserve the option, upon consultation with the Trust Lands 
Administration, to add additional hotel units and homesites, or to change the mix of these 
components, as market needs evolve over time.  In addition, we may initially seek P&Z approval for more units than outlined in this plan, to keep future options open if we find a livelier 
community center will enhance rather than diminish the overall feeling of the mesa.

DEVELOPMENT FINANCING:  A unique aspect of this development plan is that we come to the project with a repeat client base of more than 15,000 satisfied Butterfield & Robinson travelers. These people understand what we are trying to create and respect our ability, reputation, 
experience, level of service and understanding of the luxury travel and hospitality market--all of which are key components of the success of this project...The client base of Butterfield & 
Robinson represents an impressive cross-section of high-net-worth individuals, including 
corporate CEOs and executives, lawyers, bankers, entrepreneurs, entertainment executives and a growing number of Silicon Valley professionals.

MARKETING PLAN: Johnson's Up-On-Top will be marketed as a vacation community for 
affluent families and individuals.  The Moab real estate market does not currently serve this 
segment well, with most developments targeted to a somewhat lower economic bracket.

A prime source of clientele is the regional market, narrowly defined as the Salt Lake City and Denver metropolitan areas. We will initially target local media for editorial coverage. We will use a highly targeted approach, planning intimate get-togethers at the homes of our friends and initial clients...During the opening period, we will host a number of inaugural events for the state and community leaders of Utah. It would be especially gratifying to have the grand opening 
presided over by the Governor of the State of Utah.

Cloudrock Desert Lodge will set the standard for luxury wilderness accommodation in the United States...Guests will feel totally removed from civilization yet receive all the pampering and service they come to expect from a five star hotel...The lodge and condominium units that will comprise this mesa village will form a dense complex in the spirit of Italian hill towns like Siena and San Gimignano... The (Phase 3) condominiums will be built in the spirit of the Anasazi Cliff Dwellings of Mesa Verde.

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