Deer Valley Resort buys Solitude Mountain Resort

Deer Valley Resort has entered into an agreement to purchase Solitude Mountain Resort and will begin operating the resort on May 1, 2015.

“Solitude is an incredible resort and provided a huge opportunity for us to expand our offerings right here in Utah,” said Bob Wheaton, president and general manager of Deer Valley Resort. “Solitude is in unique position with their widely varied terrain that attracts both local and destination skiers. We are ecstatic to be able to add the resort to the Deer Valley family.”

“The DeSeelhorst family has enjoyed being a part of Solitude’s history for almost 40 years. We are proud of what we have been able to accomplish at the resort and in our mountain community,” said Dave DeSeelhorst, owner and general manager of Solitude Mountain Resort. “We feel very fortunate for the opportunity to have worked with so many amazing people in our industry and most importantly being able to work with our incredible staff at Solitude over the years. It is exciting to pass on this unique and beautiful resort to one of the best resort operators in the country, Deer Valley.”

For the upcoming 2014-15 ski season, Solitude will operate as usual under the leadership of the DeSeelhorst family. To foster the most effective and strategic change over, select Deer Valley staff will work alongside Solitude staff during the next six months to evaluate resort operations and gain knowledge about the Solitude brand and culture. Deer Valley will then take full ownership of Solitude Mountain Resort on May 1, 2015.

FAQs:

Why did Deer Valley Resort enter into an agreement to purchase Solitude Mountain Resort?
Deer Valley recognized a great opportunity to expand within the Utah market by adding Solitude Mountain Resort to the Deer Valley family. Solitude is an incredible resort, with both family friendly and expert terrain, and we are sincerely excited to begin working with the staff.

Amount Paid? Assets acquired?
This is a private acquisition.

How will this purchase change the experience at Solitude?
It will be business as usual, run by the DeSeelhorst family, at Solitude for the upcoming 2014-15 season. Deer Valley recognizes Solitude’s unique position in both the local and destination markets and acknowledges that we have much to learn about the current operation and brand position. Consequently, we will have select Deer Valley staff work hand in hand with Solitude staff this winter to share knowledge.

Does current Solitude staff need to worry about their employment?
Deer Valley does not anticipate any major changes in staffing at Solitude at this time.

Will snowboarding still be available at Solitude? How about the Brighton connection?
Deer Valley plans to continue allowing snowboarding at Solitude and keep the Brighton connection in place.

What about One Wasatch? Now that Deer Valley intends to own Solitude does a connection from Big Cottonwood Canyon to Deer Valley, instead of Park City Mountain Resort, make more sense?
One Wasatch (formerly the Ski Utah Interconnect) has been analyzed over the years and the present lift alignment recently released by Ski Utah seems to make the most sense.

Will it become a mini-Deer Valley?
Although Deer Valley will bring some of our service oriented and operational philosophies to the resort we do not plan to rebrand Solitude as another Deer Valley.

Will the name change?
At most, Deer Valley would make a small adjustment to the name to let current guests and potential visitors know the resort is now part of the Deer Valley family. We believe there is a lot of awareness and brand equity in the Solitude name.

Will there be a reciprocal arrangement for skiing benefits between Solitude and Deer Valley Resort?
Deer Valley Resort and Solitude Mountain Resort full season pass holders will receive four ski days at each respective resort. Deer Valley midweek pass holders will be given two passes valid, Monday through Friday, at Solitude for the coming season. Holiday restrictions will apply: December 24, 2014 – January 2, 2015; January 17 – 19, 2015 and February 14 – 16, 2015.

Will Solitude be added to the Wasatch Benefit program?
Deer Valley anticipates the Wasatch Benefit program will remain as announced in September with shared lift privileges for select season pass holders between Alta, Deer Valley and Snowbird.

Will lift ticket, locals and season pass prices increase dramatically due to the purchase of Solitude by Deer Valley?
There will be no changes to the lift and season pass rates announced by Solitude for the 2014-15 season. Moving forward, Deer Valley Resort will analyze past resort performance, operational expenses and projected revenue potential prior to setting rates.

Will Deer Valley bring more capital and marketing investments to Solitude?
Deer Valley will take the next six months to analyze operational and marketing/brand opportunities prior to announcing any capital investments. In addition, Deer Valley will begin promoting the great experience and resort jewel Solitude currently is in spring of 2015.

Does Deer Valley plan on buying any more resorts?
Although Deer Valley is not actively pursuing purchasing another resort, we have always been open to analyzing opportunities that may be a good fit for Deer Valley.

Did Deer Valley purchase Solitude in response to Vail Resorts’ purchase of Park City Mountain Resort and Ian Cumming’s purchase of Snowbird?
Absolutely not. Deer Valley has entertained many opportunities to purchase resorts over the years and in the end, those opportunities did not make good business sense. Solitude came to us at the right time and for the right reasons including: the location in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah; past business practice and performance; and great awareness in the local market.

Deer Valley Ski Resort plans major mountain addition in Park City, Utah

 

Skiing in the clouds at Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

Skiing in the clouds at Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

By Marlene Greer, Correspondent

Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, is growing. President and General Manager Bob Wheaton announced recently the resort’s plan to add 1,000 acres of ski terrain with five or six new lifts.

The new ski area will be located on the resort’s east side below the Sultan Express and Mayflower lift on Bald Mountain. With this addition, Deer Valley will offer more than 3,000 acres of skiable terrain. A new lodge, dining area and possibly lodging will be built in the new base area.

Deer Valley has wanted to expand for some time, Wheaton said. On peak days the resort’s dining areas struggle to handle all the skiers. The expansion, he said, will alleviate much of the dining congestion and offer skiers another access point to the resort.

The anticipated start date for the project is 2017. The project is expected to be complete in five years and cost an estimated $50 million.

Also on the horizon is a new gondola from historic downtown Park City to Deer Valley. Another major ski resort, Park City resort already operates the Town Lift from one end of Main Street. Deer Valley wants its own gondola.

The gondola will run from Main Street to Deer Valley’s mid-mountain Silver Lake Lodge area at 8,100 feet. The ride should take 15 minutes.

A decision has not yet been made whether the gondola will be free or if there will be a small fee. The gondola project will begin within two years and cost $10 to $12 million, Wheaton said.

All of this is great news for skiers and visitors to Park City. With a town gondola to Deer Valley Resort and a town lift to Park City Resort, skiers can skip the public buses and go direct from downtown to two of the area’s ski resorts.

Big and easy, that’s Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah

Inside the beautiful lodge at Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)
Inside the beautiful lodge at Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

By Marlene Greer, Correspondent

It’s easy to get to Deer Valley. It’s a 45-minute ride from the Salt Lake City Airport, and many transportation companies offer service from the airport to Deer Valley for a reasonable price.

There are many lodging opportunities at Deer Valley — all are on the expensive side. My stepdaughter and I stayed in a one-bedroom unit at The Lodges, a luxurious complex with a heated outdoor pool and hot tub, near Snow Park Lodge, Deer Valley’s main base lodge.

A free shuttle runs all day from The Lodges to Deer Valley and takes less than five minutes. Another plus at The Lodges is the free, on-call car service to anywhere we wanted to go in the town of Park City.

Skiers can also stay in Park City and take the free local public buses to Deer Valley that run all day and pick up at several locations.

On our second day of skiing at Deer Valley, the snowfall was heavy and wet, the kind of ski day that leaves your jacket and gloves soaked.

But that didn’t keep us from discovering and enjoying more of the resort’s beautiful blues and blue-greens, Deer Valley’s in-between groomers that challenge beginners and give intermediate skiers an easy final run at the end of the day.

Beautiful and easy. That’s Deer Valley.

Families and friends make Deer Valley a tradition

Skiers crowd liftlines at Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

Skiers crowd liftlines at Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

By Marlene Greer, Correspondent

Deer Valley is a skiers-only resort — one of the few left in the country. And Deer Valley plans to keep it that way.

“We survey our guests and (no snowboarders) is among the top reasons why people come to Deer Valley,” said Bob Wheaton, president and general manager. He says the resort is doing well financially with only skiers, and he doesn’t see the policy changing.

No snowboarders made our skiing experience more relaxed. And quiet. Deer Valley is excellent casual skiing at its best.

Jill, skiing at Deer Valley with a friend and her friend’s daughter Lauren, described it a little differently. “It’s lazy skiing,” said Jill, a vivacious 50-something lifelong skier. “Nice runs, not crowded, no snowboarders, not too difficult. I’m old. I’ve got bad knees. I want nice, easy skiing.”

This was the trio’s third trip to Deer Valley in three years. The two friends from Texas, whose husbands don’t ski, have been skiing together for many years. Lauren joined them three years ago for their annual ladies-only ski trip, and Deer Valley is their go-to destination.

“It started with six of us friends,” Jill said. “Now only the two of us are going, with Lauren. We’ve been to Deer Valley many times. It’s our favorite mountain.”
It’s also the favorite of Amy and Bill from Austin, Texas. The couple returned to Deer Valley for the second year with their two young children, 7-year-old Ben and Caroline, 9.

The parents felt the resort was ideal for their family. Ben’s favorite trail is Ontario, a long green groomer running from the top of Flagstaff Mountain.
“We’ve been doing that all day,” Amy said with a sigh.

The parents also like the kids ski school program.
“They have fun with other kids, and Bill and I can go ski,” Amy said. “They could probably ski with us now, but we like the ski school. It’s expensive, but if you are spending this much to ski here, what’s a few hundred more?”

Deer Valley lift tickets are on the high side — $108 a day for adults, $68 for
children. The resort offers a nice discount for seniors 65 and older at $77 a day.

Making a mother-daughter trip to Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah

Bear House adds whimsy to ski trails at Deer Valley Ski Resort. (Photo by Marlene Greer)
Bear House adds whimsy to ski trails at Deer Valley Ski Resort. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

By Marlene Greer, Correspondent

It was snowing for the first time in three weeks when my stepdaughter and I arrived at Deer Valley Resort in early February: Six inches of soft powder over groomed hardpack and just under freezing. Ideal conditions.

We were standing midmountain looking at the trail map trying to decide where to head to for some easy intermediate terrain. We had tried Bald Mountain earlier and found it too chopped up. It also has a 9,400-foot summit, so we were looking for something a bit easier on our first day on skis this season.
A mountain host gave us some great advice.

“Head to Flagstaff Mountain. There are some beauuuutiful blues off the back side,” the friendly Aussie said with the enthusiasm of a skier on a powder day. Everything was an exclamation!

“Take Hawkeye first. It’s excellent! Groomed with a nice pitch,” he advised. “Then try Sidewinder; it’s a bit steeper, but still nice. They are all just beautiful runs!”

This was our first trip to Deer Valley, and we found many “beautiful blues” in the next two days of skiing. We particularly liked Little Baldy Peak. The runs were groomed, nearly deserted (even on a Saturday) and there were no lift lines. We felt like we had the place to ourselves.

Deer Valley, one of the three major ski resorts in Park City, Utah, covers five mountain peaks and 2,026 acres. All levels of terrain can be accessed on all peaks with the exception of the resort’s highest — Empire Peak at 9,500 feet — which offers intermediate and expert terrain only.

Most of the lifts have high-speed quads, giving skiers more time on the slopes. The resort is surrounded by private property, so you’ll see large homes on the side of many runs.

Look for the Raccoon House and the Bear House off Last Chance Trail. Both have whimsical critters of all sizes hanging from the roof, sitting on the deck, peeking in windows and hiding in trees.

Park City adventure: Deer Valley offers elegant ski experience

By Richard Irwin

Deer Valley ski resort is elegance personified. You get that message when you find a new Cadillac sitting outside the lodge.

As if the beautiful log lodge wasn’t enough. And old chairlifts served as porch swings on the verandah.

I found it hard to hit the slopes, when I checked out the plush interior with its club setting. The leather chairs and stone fireplaces reminded me more of a plush country club, than a typical ski resort.

But that’s just the impression that Deer Valley is trying to make. It caters to the well-heeled such as an Orange County couple who were married here 17 years ago, and had returned for Valentine’s Day.

Even the “cafeteria” looked amazing, with a live carving station and natural food bar.

The resort had just hosted the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup in January. U.S. aerial and moguls teams answered questions, while Columbia l unveiled the 2014 Olympic uniforms for the U.S., Canadian and Russian freestyle ski teams.

The rest is history, with the U.S. freestyle winning gold, silver and bronze medals in the Sochi Olympics.

While I’m not Olympic material, I thought it would be interesting to ride the same mountain that our champions had practiced on . So I forced myself back outside to catch my first run of the day.

Choices, choices: Deer Valley can lift more than 50,000 skiers an hour with its gondola and a dozen high-speed quads. Add in the other chairlifts and you get a total of 21 lifts. Heck, I wouldn’t even be able to get to every lift in one day.

With a base elevation of 6,500 feet and a summit height of 9,500, this gives skiers 3,000 vertical feet to play with. I say “skiers” because snowboarders aren’t welcome at Deer Valley.

We worked our way around the mountain, enjoying the well-groomed runs. Beautiful homes lined many of the trails, forcing us to stop every once in a while to oogle celebrities’ homes.

Bald, Flagstaff and Empire mountains all top off above 9,000 feet, so good luck if you’re coming from sea level like I was. Give yourself a day to acclimate and you should be alright.

Deer Valley averages 300 inches of the “Greatest Snow on Earth” blanketing its six mountains – Little Baldy Peak, Bald Eagle, Bald, Flagstaff, Empire and Lady Morgan.

Skiers of all abilities will enjoy a wide range of trails. We stayed on the blue trails and away from the black ones because we didn’t want to land up black and blue at the end of the day.

Mother Nature cooperated with temps in the 30s under partly cloudy skies. On  many runs, we were the only skiers in sight and we never had to wait in line at the lifts.

A friend from La Verne decided to take a ski lesson. She was impressed by the quality of instruction and shared many of the instructor’s tips with me in the afternoon.

At the end of the day, we were sad to leave, but glad we had come. Headed home, we congratulated the Orange County couple and wished them another memorable Valentine’s Day.

SnoWonder visits Park City, Utah, for a week of skiing and snowboarding

Join SnoWonder reporter Rich Irwin as he explores the wonderful ski resorts at Park City, Utah. Rich will visit a different ski resort every day and give us the latest news on these great ski destinations.

Park City is less than an hour away from Salt Lake City Airport, which has many nonstop flights from LAX. Skiers can be in Utah in an little over an hour, then on the slopes an hour after that.

You don’t even need to rent a car since Park City has a massive public transit system that will get around town in a hurry. So leave the car at home, jump on an airport shuttle to Park City and use the free buses.

The resorts got a good dump of snow shortly before we arrived, so we expect some great skiing. More snow is on the way, so we’ll let you know about conditions as they develop.

We’ll even check out some apre ski sites as well as the many restaurants that fill this old mining town.

Ski resorts indulge in gut-busting, decadent food

The Three Little Piggies breakfast sandwich, served at the Little Nell hotel's Element 47 restaurant in Aspen, consists of a quarter-pound of slow-roasted shaved porchetta, smoked and pan-seared pork belly and house-made sausage gravy, resting on top of an egg-battered French toast waffle, topped off with a fried farm egg. (Photo via Associated Press)

The Three Little Piggies breakfast sandwich, served at The Little Nell hotel’s Element 47 restaurant in Aspen, Colo., consists of a quarter-pound of slow-roasted shaved porchetta, smoked and pan-seared pork belly and house-made sausage gravy, resting on top of an egg-battered French toast waffle, topped off with a fried farm egg. (Photo via Associated Press)

By Scott Mayerowitz
Associated Press

Forget that fresh arugula and grilled chicken salad. This season, ski resorts are letting us indulge with a new slate of warm, hearty comfort foods. They might not be the healthiest thing on the mountain, but after a day of racing down the slopes, they are just what skiers are craving.

Warm bowls of chili and greasy cheeseburgers are long-time staples of ski cuisine. But this season’s comfort foods go beyond chicken fingers and curly fries.

At Colorado’s Copper Mountain, skiers who pop into the Sugar Lip Donuts eatery can now indulge in Little Piggies, which are maple bacon doughnuts. Down the road at Vail’s Four Seasons Resort & Residences, guests can put on some extra calories with “That’s Just Wrong Dog,” a Kobe beef hot dog wrapped in house-cured maple bacon with blue cheese coleslaw and heirloom tomato ketchup.

And in Utah, the Goldener Hirsch Inn & Restaurant at the Deer Valley Resort has unveiled a Rocky Mountain Poutine — a Western twist on the Canadian specialty — with braised lamb and cheese curds (both locally sourced), crispy fries and lamb gravy. It’s described by the restaurant as a “rib-sticking, heart-pounding, I-better-ski-some-more” dish.

“After a day of hard skiing, who wants just a salad? So this season we’re seeing more savory, high-calorie options,” said Susie English, director of communications for Ski Utah. “There are so many creative chefs. They love to create these amazing feasts and dishes. It’s so much more exciting for them.”

Of course there are still plenty of healthy options — and a growing number of gluten-free dishes — but let’s face it, most skiers are on vacation and want to indulge.

Professional skier Chris Davenport spends about 200 days a year skiing. Each day on the mountain burns a lot of calories.

“You need something substantial to fill that tank,” Davenport said. “A salad or a sushi roll isn’t going to do it.”

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