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.

Vail Resorts expands Epic Pass to include skiing at Park City

Vail Resorts, Inc. has announced that with the company’s acquisition of Park City Mountain Resort, the iconic resort in Utah will join the Epic Pass, expanding the collection of mountains offered on the season pass to 22 resorts and more than 32,000 acres of skiing and riding.

“We’re thrilled to be able to offer unlimited skiing and riding at Park City Mountain Resort on the Epic Pass for the 2014-15 winter season,” said Kirsten Lynch, chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts. “We continue to provide even greater value and variety in skiing and riding with the Epic Pass and significantly invest in the guest experience at our mountain resorts, including new chairlifts, on-mountain dining options and innovative snowmaking expansions for the coming winter.”

The 2014-15 Epic Pass features unlimited, unrestricted skiing and riding at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Park City and Canyons in Park City, Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe; Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan.

Also, Epic Pass holders have the opportunity to extend their skiing and riding adventures globally with up to five consecutive free days (when booking in-resort lodging) at the renowned mountain resorts of Les 3 Vallées, France (Courchevel, La Tania, Méribel, Brides-les-Bains, Les Menuires, Saint Martin de Belleville, Val Thorens and Orelle) and Verbier, Switzerland, and five consecutive free days at Niseko United, Japan.

Vail Resorts is offering the season pass at $749 for adults and $389 for children (ages 5-12). Information: www.parkcitymountain.com

Park City Adventures: Main Street offers many interesting sights

By Correspondent Marlene Greer

Take a stroll down Park City’s historic Main Street and you can’t miss Loosey the Moose all dressed up in her finest, the intriguing wind sculptures, the wonderful Park City Museum, and the chairlift where you can take a ride up to Park City Mountain Resort.

The Park City Museum is housed in the former city hall and territorial jail built in 1885. It tells the story of the city’s silver mining heritage and its transition to a ski resort.

Visitors can climb into an old mining cage and feel what it was like to be transported miles underground and explore the life of a miner. The many exhibits, historical artifacts, interactive displays and running documentaries will keep you busy for a good hour or two.

One fascinating tidbit was how two miners started the area’s first ski resort. But to get to the hill, skiers had to ride a mining car three miles underground, then step into a mining cage to ascend 1,800 feet to the surface. The trip took an hour.

It was snowing the day we wandered around town, so we couldn’t take in more than a quick glimpse of the many sculptures and outdoor artworks along Main Street.

We spotted the well-dressed and primped Loosey, a bear on a bench in case a visitor wanted to snuggle for a photo and a very realistic looking Native-American ready to let fly with an arrow.

There were also many intricately patterned metal windmills, the work of world-renown artist Lyman Whitaker, who for 30 years has been “gracefully capturing the spirit of the wind through his kinetic art.”

There are a dozen or more art galleries along Main Street, showcasing a variety of work from local and nationally known artists. Several have an emphasis on Western art and feature painted and sculpted bison, horses and bears, and canvases of pastures, wranglers and beautiful alpine autumns.

But there are also the wild and wacky, the delicate glassworks and the Hollywood icons.

Park City Adventure: History lines the ski runs on Park City Mountain

By Staff Writer Richard Irwin

We often stopped to read the signs about the historic mining buildings lining some of the ski runs at Park City Mountain resort.

Visitors can take a free guided historic mountain tour and learn the history behind Park City. Tour guides provide a wealth of knowledge, as well as fun stories of how the runs got their names and behind-the-scenes vignettes from the 2002 Olympics.

Here are some fun facts you’ll learn:

• $450 million in silver was mined at Park City Mountain from 1,200 miles of tunnels.

• Park City’s silver mines produced 25 millionaires.

The tour is offered 10 a.m. daily at the Eagle Statue in the plaza or at the Summit Demo Center at 1:30 p.m.

A light snow started in the morning and would continue off and on for the rest of the day. Not a heavy Sierra snow, but the fine, dry snow that Utah is famous for. Its flakes were just big enough to sting your face if you took off your face mask.

Shooting by a terrain park we saw several boarders trying their luck on the jumps. Park City has three parks, including Eagle superpipe and Merrill minipipe.

Late in the day, we caught some high winds at the summit, but it was fine once you skied down into the valleys. It turned out to be another great day in our Park City adventure.

Park City Adventure: Park City Mountain offers 3,300 acres of skiing

By Staff Writer Richard Irwin

Park City Mountain offers 3,300 acres of skiing. There are also nine, count them nine, bowls with 750 acres. That’s a lot of territory to cover, and coverage was excellent when we arrived in February.

We decided to warm up on Homerun, which turns out to be the longest trail, measuring 3 1/2 miles. Quite the warm-up.

Park City actually has 114 trails, with more than half listed as intermediate, while 31 percent are advanced.

The snow was a fine powder as we schussed under cloudy skies. At times, a pale white sun would barely pierce the cloudy veil, lending a cold, bleak light. But the skiing was hot.

As in our visits to other Park City ski resorts that week, there were hardly any lift lines. Park City has a total of 16 lifts, including four high speed six-packs and three high speed quads.

The mountain boasts a total uphill capacity of 31,000 skiers an hour, which would be tested on President’s Day that weekend with every hotel room booked solid.

But we beat the rush and could ski as much as we wanted. We were often alone on our own section of the mountain.

Park City Adventure: Park City Mountain celebrating 50 years

By Staff Writer Richard Irwin 

It’s not often that a chairlift will drop you off in the middle of town. But then, Park City, Utah, is a special place, where skiers take their sport very seriously.

So we laughed as we watched skiers and snowboarders jump on the town lift to take them up the hill to the huge Park City Mountain Resort. Must be nice to catch a few runs after school, which more than a few students looked like they were doing. Skiers originally traveled underground through a mine shaft to a hoist, where they were lifted 1,400 feet to the mountain. Now you can just jump on the city chairlift.

We had a little bit of everything at the ski resort, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Wind, snow, fog — but we still had a great time exploring this Utah ski resort nestled up against the city with the same name.

We met up with our group at the Eagle Statue in the lovely resort plaza at the base of the mountain. It looks great with shops, restaurants and services on the first floor and lodging on several floors above.

Canyons Resort is great for intermediate and advanced skiers in Park City, Utah

By Correspondent Marlene Greer

The Canyons is immense and glorious for intermediate and advanced skiers, with so much variety of terrain to choose from, it’s not to be done in one day. At least not for me and my group of nine.

But there’s not much at Canyons for beginners. Just 10 percent of the trails are marked green, and those trails cover little of the ski area’s vast territory.

The Canyons, one of the three major ski resorts in Park City, Utah, is four miles from downtown Park City and 32 miles from the Salt Lake City Airport. Several shuttle services offer transportation from the airport to the resort and to Park City for a reasonable price. Free public buses from Park City run all day between Park City and Canyons.

If you like to ski groomers and opt to try Canyons on your own without a guide, pick up the daily grooming report at the base lodge. It’s invaluable.

Great guide leads us to best spots in Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah

Our mountain guide gave us great tips to ski better. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

Our mountain guide gave us great tips to ski better. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

By Correspondent Marlene Greer

When I’m not familiar with a ski area and I’m by myself, I like to sign up for a guided mountain tour. Canyons offers one daily at 10:30 a.m.

For me, a guided tour is a good way to get around and get to know the mountain without landing on a mogul minefield or finding myself looking over an abyss, thinking, “What am I doing here?”

Mountain guides know which runs are groomed and which runs are suitable that particular day for their group. I find the tours enjoyable and informative. Plus, I get to meet people from all over the world.

Our group of nine was a joyful band of good skiers who wanted to take it easy. No big bowls, no trees and definitely no moguls. Just nice, easy cruisers with good pitch and maybe some powder on the side.

We were a group of West Coasters — California, Oregon and Washington. Seems we were all fleeing the dry conditions in the West for the more favorable Utah snow.

Fortunately, we were graced with a fresh dusting of it — 6 inches of snow fell the day and night before, leaving a blush of powder over hard-packed groomed.

We wanted to see as much of the area as possible — boundary to boundary, as one skier in our group put it. A hardy task given the ski resort covers nine peaks and five bowls with 4,000 skiable acres and counts itself among the largest ski areas in the nation.

Roger Seaborn, our affable Australian tour guide, however, was unflappable. He took our request seriously. This was no tour for slackers.

With 182 trails to choose from, we got busy. With Roger leading the way, we managed to find one or two of the best blues, groomed double blues, and a bit of powder off each lift, skiing nearly end to end and top to bottom throughout the resort.

For those in the group who wanted a challenge here and there, Roger would stop on a run and point out another way down and we would all meet up at the bottom.

One place we skipped was the double-black terrain off the resort’s notorious Ninety-Nine 90 Express (so called because it rises to the resort’s highest elevation at 9,990 feet). This is expert-only terrain. Roger told us a couple of out-of-bounds skiers had triggered an avalanche on a bowl just outside the resort’s boundary only two days before.

Roger is also a certified instructor. Though it wasn’t part of the program, he offered ski tips to anyone in the group open to suggestions and improvement, which was all of us.

“Marlene, it’s your turn. Get in behind me,” he called out just as we were making our way off the Orange Bubble Express and down yet another nice groomer. “I want you to follow my tracks.”

Easier requested then accomplished. Roger was trying to get me to work on more rounded — and more graceful — turns. Others in the group he instructed to bend more at the knees, roll the ankles and lean more forward. I think the instructor in him just couldn’t help himself.

If he saw one of us doing something, he first asked permission in a nice way if you minded a little instruction — then proceeded to offer his advice, which we greatly appreciated.

Skiing 18.5 miles at the Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah

Scenic view from top of the Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

Scenic view from top of the Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

By Correspondent Marlene Greer 

“You’ve done 16,100 vertical feet and 31.7 miles,” reported Ed Kane during a mountain tour of Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah.

He had one of those $400 fancy oversized wristwatch gizmos that tracked his every ski move and recorded it for posterity. Plus for backup, he had a $1.29 app on his phone that did the same thing.

I’m not sure which one worked better. And since he and I skied on the same tour with the same guide, his end-of-the-day vertical was my vertical and his miles were my miles.

“Wow, 31 miles! I can’t believe we did that much skiing,” I replied. “We’ve covered so much of the mountain and didn’t even see it all. Thirty-one miles, that’s a marathon! And I don’t feel tired at all!”

I was so excited, I couldn’t wait to tell everyone I skied 31 miles in a day, and how much I enjoyed my excellent Canyons experience. Ed found my excitement a bit humorous and smiled as I went on and on.

Then came the bubble-burster.

“Ah… half of that was on a lift, though,” Ed informed me.

“So you mean I only went 15 miles?” I asked, thinking it didn’t sound nearly as impressive as the 31 miles I was already planning to post on Facebook.

“No. You did 18.5 miles,” he said with what might have been a hint of laughter.

If I had known Ed for more than the six hours we spent traversing the Canyons’ numerous slopes, I would have given him The Look. You know the one — the “Don’t get technical with me” look we reserve for those we know intimately.

Still, 18.5 miles didn’t sound too shabby. I could go with that. It was my first time skiing at Canyons.

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.