Deer Valley Resort finalizes purchase of Solitude Mountain Resort |

Deer Valley Resort finalizes purchase of Solitude Mountain Resort

Deer Valley Resort said Friday it has finalized its acquisition of Solitude Mountain Resort.

According to Bob Wheaton, president and general manager for Deer Valley Resort, the purchase closed Thursday, with Deer Valley officially taking over operations of the Big Cottonwood Canyon resort Friday. Financial details of the acquisition, which was announced in October, were not released.

Solitude was previously owned by the DeSeelhorst family.

Deer Valley also announced a set of improvements it will make at Solitude this offseason. Chief among them, Wheaton said, is replacing the current Summit two-person chairlift with a detachable high-speed four-person lift. The lift will be renamed the Summit Express.

"That will cut the lift ride time in less than half," he said. "That will dramatically improve skier circulation there and the whole mountain experience."

A new ski run will also be created from the top of the Apex Express chairlift to the bottom of the new Summit Express. Wheaton said that will offer guests quicker access to Honeycomb Canyon, one of the iconic areas of Solitude.

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The United States Forest Service, which owns a portion of Solitude’s land and is leasing it to Deer Valley, has granted approval for the improvements.

Dining options on the mountain will also be revamped, Wheaton said. The Moonbeam Lodge Restaurant will be remodeled, while other improvements will be an ongoing process.

Including the new chairlift, which will cost about $5 million, Deer Valley expects to spend $6 million to $7 million on the improvements, Wheaton said.

Wheaton said Deer Valley is also focused on improving details ranging from guest service to slope grooming.

"I think people that are there next year will definitely see some Deer Valley touches," he said.

Deer Valley is planning on offering season-pass holders lift benefits at both resorts, Wheaton said. However, those details have not been finalized. Wheaton also said Deer Valley will continue the Big Cottonwood Pass that gives guests season access to both Solitude and Brighton Ski Resort through the Sol/Bright connection that links the two resorts.

"We’re fully expecting to be participating in that pass," he said.

While Deer Valley said when the acquisition was first announced in October that it would consider rebranding Solitude, Wheaton said that, after consideration, no name change to the resort will be made.

"The feedback that we’ve gotten from the discussions that we’ve had reinforced the fact that Solitude has a very strong brand," he said. "It’s one which we’re honored to participate in."

Kim Mayhew, formerly the director of human resources at Deer Valley, has served as transition manager at Solitude in recent months. She took over as general manager of the resort Friday. Wheaton said Mayhew’s presence at Solitude in the 2014-2015 ski season was a crucial factor in what he expects to be a smooth transition.

"The process this winter was at least as beneficial as what we had hoped for," he said. "Being able to be over there all winter long, especially in a winter as challenging as this one was, we were able to look at the operations and evaluate. We were able to see what has been done and how we may be able to effect some improvement there.

"We’re very excited to be there," he added. "We’d like to think that anybody who shows up next year will see the difference."