Monday, November 29, 2010

Utah leaps ahead with luxe ski area lodging

Newcomer properties Montage Deer Valley, the St. Regis Deer Valley, and the Waldorf Astoria Park City were financed before the real-estate bust, as part of the development that followed the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics. All three were built in the Park City area during the recent recession. And now are setting a new standard of luxury in Utah to match anything in Colorado or British Columbia. Nathan Rafferty, president of the trade group Ski Utah, said the new hotel developments are a "huge deal" that show resort operators are "bullish on Utah," where skiing is a $1 billion-a-year industry. He added, "They have to know something."

Snowbird is seeking to extend skiing to nearly 11,500 feet in elevation with a tram from its summit to a higher peak. Resorts on both sides of the narrow Wasatch mountains are discussing a common ticketing system and additional lifts that could let skiers glide effortlessly from one resort to the other, possibly within a few years. Some of the seven Wasatch resorts that practically rub shoulders have opened their borders to a neighbor, but the plan is get all or most of the resorts to join together.

Snowbasin, another Wasatch resort that stands apart near Ogden, has filed ambitious all-season and lodging resort plans for government approval. A New York hedge fund, meanwhile, is opening Utah's 14th ski area dubbed Eagle Point, the former Elk Meadows in the spectacular Tushar mountains in Beaver County. Deseret News