Following the acquisition of Park City Mountain Resort by Vail Resorts for $182.5m last year and significant development to connect it and the adjacent Canyons Resort, this Saturday will see the opening of what will be the largest ski area in the United States.
Since acquiring the site, Vail Resorts has spent a further $50 on renovations for the 7,300-acre mecca for skiers around the world. "This is a historical year for us," said Bill Rock, Vail's chief operating officer. "People have been talking about connecting resorts in Utah for a long time, but we were able to make it happen. … Park City has all the ingredients to be one of the best ski resort destinations in the world".
With the merger of the two iconic resorts, skiers and snowboarders can explore 17 peaks on more than 300 trails, ride 41 lifts and dine in 16 restaurants. "It's big," Rock said. "It's gotten a lot of attention from around the world - rightfully so because Utah's got the greatest snow on Earth and now the biggest resort in the United States".
The "cornerstone centerpiece" of the resort's improvements, he said, is the new Quicksilver gondola, an eight-passenger, high-speed lift connecting Park City and Canyons resorts, which will be up and running by mid-December.
Halfway through the gondola's nine-minute route, riders can unload at a new station at the top of Pine Cone Ridge, where they can ski to either Canyons or Park City areas on two brand new trails: The Highway for beginners and intermediate-level Blaise's Way.
On the Park City side of the resort, the brand new Miners Camp restaurant replaces the Snow Hut with 500 indoor seats at the base of Silverlode Lift, next to the Park City terminal for the Quicksilver gondola.
The King Con lift's capacity has also been increased from four to six people and the Motherlode lift has been upgraded from a fixed-grip, three-person lift to a four-person, high-speed detachable chairlift. In Canyons Village, the Summit House and Red Pine restaurants were renovated, Chicane trail was widened, and snowmaking was increased on Iron Mountain.
It was a massive project to complete in one summer, Rock said, but everything will be ready by Christmas. "We've talked about this being transformational," he said. "As the biggest resort in the U.S., people have big expectations, so we want to deliver".
Utah is America's principal ski resort area and property is very popular throughout the year both to investors and new residents in the area. At the beginning of this year, RealtyTrac named Hunstville, Utah as the best ski town for property investors, citing an average rental yield of 7.7% and an average price increase of 3% year-on-year.
The quaint town of Huntsville, Utah, located in the state's Odgen Valley region, may only have about 600 people, but it has three ski resorts. Tourists and would-be residents flock to the Wasatch Mountains to hit the slopes at the Snowbasin, Powder Mountain and Nordic Valley resorts, and to take advantage of the 9,250-foot summit elevation. It has the lowest median home price on this list at about $170,000, and it was named the best ski town for real estate investors by RealtyTrac, all things considered.
Now there's a huge new kid on the block in Utah's ski-country at Park City Mountain Resort, property investment in the State is on the rise. Median prices for apartments are around $160,000 according to data from RealtyTrac and so there are many bargains to be had for savvy investors.