Back in October there was a pretty screaming deal on access to The Fort if you already had a season pass, so I snagged the no-longer-available option. The price structure has changed a bit but here I am with access until June. Typically I work from my home office: three phones, three monitors, two headsets, charging stations galore, a comfy chair, and a stand-up/-sit-down desk. I don’t really need a co-working space in Mammoth personally but the concept of being able to work from Main Lodge (one of the two Fort locations) just seemed too good to pass up.
The Main Lodge location is, frankly, perfect. As you can see in the photo you are quite literally spitting distance from Chair 6. Walking, it takes less than a minute from your desk to the chair. There’s wifi, lockers, places to stash skis/boards, a decently sized coat rack, and a sweet app that lets you unlock the door from your phone.
It’s relatively quiet inside and it’s at the end of a hallway that isn’t trafficked by most skiers/boarders so you can even kinda-sorta make phone calls from there, more on that below.
It’s also warm and dry which might not seem like much but folks coming in with snow gear on tend to create a lot of humidity as the moisture evaporates so it was nice to not be a dank sauna.
Four knocks against it I would make:
- Size. It’s small, and although empty in the photo above imagine three more folks in there (a total of five, counting me and the person at the far end) and you can see how it can get cramped quick. There are 8 lockers present, only a couple of which weren’t locked already, and I’m not sure how you could truthfully manage to have 8 people in there. Photos often show someone sitting in a chair with an iPad but modern work generally involves a laptop, a drink, a notepad, and your phone. My advice: get there early and don’t expect to show up mid-afternoon and have much to work with.
- The chairs are terrible. Although they look neat, I’ll bet you cold hard cash that no one reading this right now would want to sit in them for more than 30 minutes. They look good and trendy, but comfy office chairs exist for a reason.
- Zero kitchen. Mammoth exists to make money, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But most every workplace has a kitchen because it is just way too cost prohibitive to eat out for all your meals. That’s especially true at a ski resort where two hard boiled eggs and a cup of coffee ran me $9 yesterday. Additionally, some folks have dietary issues. Pretty much any workplace including, I’m sure, for the folks who work at Main Lodge for Mammoth, has an employee fridge and a kitchen of some extent. Perhaps just a microwave, toaster oven, and drip coffee machine. The Fort at Main Lodge has zero in that regard.
- Only one “sound proof” area for calls. Co-working spaces suffer from this problem in general: where do you make phone calls? You can be that obnoxious jerk who rattles off in a public area, forcing everyone else to put headphones on. Or you can be considerate and walk somewhere quiet. Some people aren’t on the phone a lot but it’s rare I think for most people to not need to be on a call at least once a day. There is the outside hallway but it’s only luck if you get privacy there.
The Fort started up last year with two locations: main lodge and “downtown”. The downtown location is by far larger and better equipped. Main Lodge’s location is not just its advantage but it’s really its only advantage with a pile of disadvantages heaped on.
Real estate being what it is, it shouldn’t be a surprise that space at a ski resort’s lodge is a top commodity with contention all around for multiple purposes. And considering that The Fort only opened a year ago, I think they’ve done a terrific job with where they’re at.
The Fort’s integration with the ski resort is the blessing and the curse. Without that integration, there’s no way you’re going to be in such a great location, have the financial capital, the built-in maintenance and janitorial services, or the ability to do things like offer packages that combine a Cali4nia Pass.
Conversely, that integration favors the inclusive design of ski resort economics. You should be eating at ski resort restaurants, buying or renting your gear from the resort, staying at ski resort lodging, and otherwise staying inside the ski resort ecosystem.
For me personally I’ll look at the pricing next year to see if it makes sense. I’m not their target market of course, having a home office already in Mammoth. But I would hope that they continue to improve and that similar to most other work spaces (including co-working spaces across the country) thought is given to things like food and multi-hour comfort.
In short, employees at Mammoth Mountain don’t sit in one of those chairs or spend $5 for a cup of drip coffee, because that’s not the standard of a professional American workplace. Whether that’s what the Fort is trying to do, be a modern professional workplace more so than part of the resort’s economic ecosystem, is a balancing act I think they’ll be working with for some time. I’m looking forward to seeing how things progress.