An Insider's Look at One of America's Best Communities.


PARK CITY, UTAH: It’s hard for me to fathom, but slightly more than a decade ago, I sat down for an interview with Francis Najafi, developer of Promontory Club. Without a pause, he confidently stated, “I don’t think you will see another mountain community of our scope in the United States in the next 20 years.” It was a prediction that would prove to be true and I’ve observed first hand over the years just how that promise continues to be kept.

Promontory Club is a big and bold private community. Its ever-expanding amenities include Jack Nicklaus and Pete Dye courses, the Ranch Clubhouse (think spa, fitness, pools, and tennis), The Shed (ideal for families), multiple golf clubhouses, Kinnikinnick Cabin (for kids only), Beach Club (a first in a mountain location), Deer Valley and Park City Member Lodges (with hot cocoa on the stove), and a large Equestrian Center. In the planning stage is a new short course, a putting course, an indoor golf learning center, an Adventure Building, a tennis center, and additional Club facilities. All told, Promontory has another $75 million in amenities in the pipeline that will only distance itself further from the competition.

“The vision for Promontory Club started with my frustration of typical private club amenities,” said Najafi. “If golf isn’t your primary passion, you feel left behind. I felt it was critical to engage the entire family with options, no matter their age, and no matter the season. As a non-golfer, I knew what appealed to me, and surmised others would feel the same. Often it is like trying to mix oil with water when a family trying to make it to the pool intersects with golfers fresh off the course. I felt with such a large parcel of land to work with [7,200 acres], we could separate the uses. As an example, today at Promontory we have 14 different venues on property to match every imaginable indoor and outdoor activity. 

“I originally was looking at a large parcel of land outside Aspen, Colorado,” recalled Najafi. “A friend contacted me and said he thought he had exactly what I was looking for, but in Park City, Utah. During my initial visit, I was enthralled with the land’s topography and views of both Park City and Deer Valley Ski Resorts. The Salt Lake City airport is only 30 minutes away and the drive is all interstate [unlike many mountain communities]. Ease of access can’t be underestimated!

“I felt that if I could deliver best-in-class architecture and service with a family-centric culture, I had a winner,” continued Najafi. “After protracted negotiations with the former landowner, Promontory Club became reality.”

Promontory Club required a massive upfront investment to the tune of $250 million. “That figure was back in the early 2000s,” said Najafi. “In today’s dollars, it would be more than double that. The initial outlay was both financial and intellectual with no guarantee of success. I must admit that I was a bit idealistic and gullible at the beginning. I felt that anyone could achieve anything if they worked hard enough for it.”

Since Promontory Club broke ground, Francis has endured several macro event stomach punches, including 9/11; The Great Recession; and most recently, the pandemic. But people like to stick with winners, and Promontory has delivered on its promises. Najafi has no outside investor and no lenders on the project. “As a seasoned developer, I have learned the dangers of leverage. I am pleased to report that Promontory Club carries no debt and is booming. 2020 was a banner year for Promontory with over $460 million in total project sales and we have already exceeded that this year.” As far as a pure play, independent real estate company, Promontory is one of the biggest players in the industry.

With a staff of over 300 onboard at Promontory Club, proper training is a critical component. “Excellence doesn’t happen by accident,” concluded Najafi. “We follow the Four Seasons Resorts’ doctrine of ‘anticipated service.’ After all, you can have the most robust amenities in the world, but unless service standards equally match lofty expectations, our job isn’t complete.” 

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