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Breaking: Vail Resorts Gets Green Light to Create the Largest Ski Resort in the United States

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Vail Resorts just announced that it received unanimous approval from the Park City Planning Commission to move forward on a $50 million capital improvement plan at Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR). In conjunction with approvals from Utah's Synderville Basin Planning Commission in February, the announcement means that Vail has the green light to combine PCMR and Canyons and create the largest ski area in the United States. In a press release, Vail Resorts argues that the pricey plan is "one of the most ambitious and impactful capital plans in the history of the U.S. ski industry." And while we love to debunk PR-speak, Vail Resorts is right. This is the biggest single-season investment in a ski area, ever.

Vail Resorts bought Park City Mountain Resort from Powdr Corp for $182.5 million in September, and the industry heavyweight had hinted that big improvements were coming to Utah. Still, no one expected Vail to make a $50 million one-year investment in their Park City/Canyons properties. That is a lot of cash. For comparison's sake, in 2014-2015, Whistler Blackcomb topped the list of investments by spending $12 million on upgrades.

More on Vail Resorts:
10 Fast Facts On The Ski Industry's Biggest Player: Vail Resorts
Colorado Boosts Vail Resorts' Profits, Tahoe Lags Behind
Vail Resorts Plans to Focus on Mountains, Not Real Estate
What It Means To Ski in a Vail-Dominated World
CEO Admits that Vail Resorts Wants to Take Over World

A combined PCMR and Canyons Resort will clock in at over 7,300 skiable acres. So how does that stack up against other ski areas like Big Sky and Vail Mountain? Head over here to find out.

According to the Park Record, prep work for the gondola construction will begin as soon as the ski season ends. The excavations for the terminals and towers are set for May and June, followed by concrete pours in June and August. Installation of the terminals and towers should happen in July and August, with the cables and gondola cabins in place in September. Vail Resorts plans to have everything ready when PCMR opens sometime in November.

Here's the complete list of what $50 million worth of upgrades includes:

· The Interconnect Gondola: An eight-passenger, high-speed two-way gondola from the base of the existing Silverlode Lift at Park City to the Flatiron Lift at Canyons. The gondola will also have an unload at the top of Pine Cone Ridge to allow skiers and riders the opportunity to ski into Thaynes Canyons at Park City via gated ski access or to the Iron Mountain area at Canyons through new trails that will be created from Pine Cone Ridge. Head over here for some photos of where Vail Resorts plans to build the PCMR terminal of the gondola.

· Upgrade of King Con and Motherlode Lifts at Park City: The King Con Lift will be upgraded from a four-person to a six-person, high-speed detachable chairlift and will increase lift capacity to this very popular ski pod. The Motherlode Lift will be upgraded from a fixed-grip triple to a four-person, high-speed detachable chairlift, also increasing lift capacity.

· New Snow Hut Restaurant, Upgrades to Summit House Restaurant at Park City and Expansion of Red Pine Lodge Restaurant at Canyons: The plan calls for building a completely new Snow Hut restaurant at the base of the Silverlode Lift and next to the Park City terminal for the Interconnect Gondola, with 500 indoor seats and a top-of-the-line kitchen and culinary experience. The plan also includes an upgrade to the "scramble" area inside the Summit House restaurant to improve the flow of diners and increase seats. At Canyons, the Red Pine Restaurant will be renovated to accommodate an additional 250 indoor seats.

· Snowmaking: The plan features additional snowmaking on two trails in the Iron Mountain area of Canyons which will become increasingly central ski terrain given its proximity to the Interconnect Gondola.

· "Catch Up" Improvements: The plan also includes almost $5 million of "catch up" maintenance and upgrades at Park City, given the lack of spending at the resort over the past few years. This "catch up" maintenance spending is in addition to the normal annual maintenance capital for the two resorts of $5 million, which will be undertaken this year as well.

· Vail Resorts wins historic vote as Interconnect Gondola approved [Park Record]
· Vail Moves Forward on Plans for Park City Gondola [Curbed Ski]
· Vail Will Spend $50M to Create Biggest Ski Area in USA [Curbed Ski]
· Vail Plans to Connect PCMR & Canyons [Curbed Ski]
· Breaking: Vail Resorts Buys Park City Mountain Resort [Curbed Ski]
· Utah Blueprint Threatens the Future of One Wasatch [Curbed Ski]
· What Vail's Purchase of Park City Means for Skiers [Curbed Ski]
· Which Ski Resort Has The Most Skiing? [Curbed Ski]