News broke this morning that Vail Resorts was taking over the skiing operations at the Canyons resort. According to a press release by Vail Resorts, its appears that the ski area management will be taken over by Vail, while the real estate development will remain with Talisker. Follow this link to listen to press conference audio. Per the agreement of the transaction, Talisker will retain rights to 4,000,000 square feet (that’s just shy of 92 acres if we are talking area of ground) of development potential at the resort. What this means for the future of the Wasatch Mountains, SkiLink and the frequently referred to Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) – Canyons leasing lawsuit (by Vail CEO Rob Katz) is purely speculative at this point. From our perspective however, it seemed that Vail was pretty much counting on the fact that they would not only be acquiring Canyons as a resort, but also the land inside PCMR as part of this transaction.
Speaking of transactions, that was something that hit us surrounding this deal. The natural environment, the beauty of the landscape, the quality of life, the environmental functionality (watershed, geography, geology, wildlife habitat) of the place we call home was not once mentioned. For a place that gives so much to so many it was only referred to as “a market,” “an opportunity for growth,” “a significant transaction,” as the call was dominated by investors and the financial industry. The only local reporter on the call (who spoke up) was Leslie Thatcher with KPCW in Park City, who asked about the contentious SkiLink issue and whether or not Vail Resorts had any interest in getting tangled up in the controversial proposal. Vail representatives stated they didn’t really know much about the details of the project, but felt they needed to understand more about the details, stakeholders, and politics of the project before making any decisions.
Here are our initial thoughts and concerns:
- We hope that this project will satiate the immediate need/want/desire for SkiLink project.
- We are very concerned about the amount of development at Canyons Resort (4 Million square feet) and future development potential planned for PCMR which from the sounds of it Talisker/Canyons and now Vail seem to be betting doesn’t go in PCMR’s favor.
- Emphasis and a mounting campaign on the greater interconnect proposal seems to be eminent at this juncture. Vail Resorts incessant reiteration of “Utah has the greatest potential for growth” throughout the conference call is code for interconnect and future resort expansions.
- Given the split of resort management and resort development, we can only assume each entity will now be able to dedicate more time in its area of expertise: Talisker – real estate development; Vail – resort management and development.
- A LOT is hanging on this pending court decision between Talisker and Park City Mountain Resort
- What other resorts are looking to sell? Rumors about Snowbird selling as Dick Bass’ family has little interest in keeping the resort as well as Solitude rumors about their interest in selling to Canyons (maybe we should have been asking, selling to Vail), and the fact that while a local family still runs Brighton resort – the interests are owned by CNL Income Properties, but still managed by Boyne USA.
We hope that Vail will be a proactive community partner in stewarding these Wasatch Mountains that form the backbone of the most populated area of Utah. More so, we hope that they recognize what they are today, and how important those qualities are to the local people, inclusive of our inseparable need for clean water and access to untrammeled public lands. Clearly, (more) big monied interests are moving into the Wasatch, we need to remain vigilant, active, engaged, informed and persistent to protect what is and has been so uniquely amazing about the Wasatch Mountains.
Let us know your thoughts about this project. We need help, we need staff to work on these issues and always need financial contributions to help us continue our mission of protecting the wildness and beauty of the Wasatch mountains, canyons and foothills.
Here is a little more about these two prominent entities:
Vail calls itself, “the leading mountain resort operator in the United States. The Company’s subsidiaries operate the mountain resorts of Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada; Canyons in Park City, Utah; Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan; and the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.” http://www.vailresorts.com/Corp/index.aspx
As we are already aware, Talisker calls itself, “a privately held global real estate company with over three decades of real estate investment and project development. Talisker has distinguished itself in the planning and development of master planned communities in a resort setting. Currently Talisker has more than 10,000 acres in the Park City area. This includes ownership of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel and Spa located at Canyons, Tuhaye, a 2,000-acre golf course community; Empire Pass and Red Cloud , both mountain communities with luxury residential condominiums; and single family homes on Deer Valley. Talisker also has an ownership interest in Montage Resort and Spa, a luxury hotel located at Deer Valley built on Talisker’s land.” http://www.talisker.com/