"The club's involvement in conservation has definitely been a selling point," says Roaring Fork co-owner David Wilhelm. "You could call it an amenity, the opportunity to be part of the preservation of such a pristine place."
Pristine places are the raw material for resort developers, and developers who threaten the ecological integrity of these places do so at their economic peril, says Rory Murphy, a Utah developer who comes to the table with a degree in wildlife biology.
"The traditional 'manifest destiny' developer who says, 'It's my land, I'll do what the heck I want with it' is going to feel it in the wallet," Murphy says.
Murphy's latest project, an 18-acre ski-in, ski-out development for the Park City Mountain Resort, can, in a sense, be considered a conservationist's dream. Rather than constructing the 103 condominiums on pristine property, Murphy is reclaiming acreage that's been despoiled by a century-old silver mine.
"We'll be renovating a historically significant mine building and cleaning up the environmental hazards that exist there," he says. "As you can imagine, the environmental community has been pretty supportive."
At Cordillera, an upscale resort community near Vail, "conservation concerns were primary" in the very conception of the decade-old development, says Gerry Engle, principal in the Cordillera Group. More than 80 percent of the community's 7,000 acres was set aside as open space, with careful attention to preserving wildlife habitat and migration corridors.
"Green was a given," says Engle. "And, really, it had to be. We understood from the start that folks don't move to an area like this without fancying themselves as conservationists at some level. When a prospective homeowner comes and sees the open space and the miles of hiking trails, and reads the strict design guidelines, the message is driven home."