Editorial: One year later Vail Resorts has lived up to its epic promises
September 8, 2015
One year ago this week, Park City’s namesake resort was involved in a bitter legal dispute that threatened to scuttle the 2014-2015 ski season. There were threats that lifts would be yanked and ticket windows shuttered. The town was consumed with speculation about the potential impacts of a permanent impasse between the owner of the upper terrain, Talisker Land Holdings, LLC, and the owner of the base area, Powdr Corp.
But, on Sept. 11, after more than two years of legal wrangling, those fears evaporated. Vail Resorts, which already had an operating agreement with Talisker to operate The Canyons, purchased PCMR from Powdr Corp. The mountain was whole again.
Residents were immensely relieved, but many have been leery, too. From Day One, Vail made it clear it had big plans for its newest acquisition. CEO Rob Katz was unabashed about the company’s intention to combine Canyons and PCMR, creating the country’s largest mountain resort.
Vail also made waves by introducing its multi-resort Epic Pass into the Utah market. The Epic Pass gives skiers and snowboarders access to 11 resorts in five states, forcing resorts like Deer Valley, Snowbird and Brighton to form their own alliances in order to offer a competitive product. The concept may have rankled resort owners, at first, but skiers and snowboarders have been snapping up the deals. That has ski area operators in general feeling bullish about the coming season.
Vail Resorts also upped the corporate-giving ante. Last November, to celebrate its opening day as PCMR’s proud new owner, Vail awarded $1.3 million in grants and in-kind services to local nonprofits through its Epic Promise program. And they have continued to support programs aimed at kids and environmental initiatives.
In one year, Vail Resorts has radically changed the landscape, and there are justifiable concerns about what the publically held giant has in store for the future. But even the most hardened hearts have begun to soften. Over the summer the company was busy installing $50 million in improvements at both Park City Mountain Resort and the Canyons Village, including the promised gondola that officially merges the two ski areas into one.
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Last September, skier-dependent businesses were worried about closing and many employees wondered if they would have jobs. The town was shrouded in gloom and doom. This year residents are anticipating a banner ski season. Much of the credit for that goes to Vail Resorts. The company promised, and it delivered.