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November 20, 2007

New Goings on at Brian Head

It is happening. There is an interconnect. Bridge is going to be done shortly. Lifts are already in and being load tested.

The resort is requesting town approval to build the new village at the Giant Steps base area. The MDP already has two more lifts approved that will create extensive new advanced terrain.

It is an interesting dillema that the town and the resort are in. There is a contingent of folks in Brian Head that would almost prefer that the resort go away ala Elk Meadows. Because most homeowners are Vegas residents, locals that live in Brian Head are the only ones that have a vote and a say in what the town does. And the resort is in the process of trying to improve, constantly dealing with the forces that like things the way they are.

I am still trying to get the Master Development Plan. I have some generic details from Ski area, but this is a group dedicated to STOPPING NEW IMPROVEMENTS.

Here is what I know:

  • Brian Head lacks extensive Advanced and Expert terrain
  • Brian Head makes up for that lack of terrain by providing a great family atmosphere
  • Brian Head has plenty of uphill capacity to serve their current customer base
  • Brian Head is the closest "real" resort to Las Vegas and is the only Utah resort within a day's driving distance of Phoenix
  • Brian Head is undergoing a huge new expansion push of new condos
  • The resort just completed the Interconnect which increases skiable terrain by 50% and provides probably 50% more uphill capacity

So this begs the question--why is the resort increasing uphill capacity by 50% and adding terrain? It isn't like there is a problem with not enough skiable terrain or lift capacity, except maybe on holiday weekends and when lift closures happen. Why are developers building condos? Why put in an expensive base area?

We are seeing that some real "flakes" are trying to develop condo projects at Brian Head. The Lofts made promises they cannot keep and are over a year behind schedule. Maybe a year and a half behind. Have barely moved dirt on the second phase that was supposed to already be done. The real estate bubble and lots of other factors are probably going to hinder a project whose condos start at a half a million bucks at a resort that has no real rental market.

And I assumed that a resort that had not made a single improvement in 30 years wasn't committed to building the Interconnect or installing the new lifts. That the town was going to build them a bridge to nowhere. That all of this amounts to a gift to the resort with no benefit back to the town. But my lifts are done and my bridge is in and there is a bunch of new snowmaking.

I am so stoked to eat my words. I want to eat my words about skier visits and market share increasing, but it is too early to tell and this is a La Nina year and that probably means lack of snow is going to derail a lot of the early traffic. I am not sure what all the expansion is going to do from here, but this is a good sign for a sleepy resort in a sleepy town.

The resort is a great place to teach your kids. It is a great place to go and relax. I hope someday it will be a great place for advanced skiers, will have a booming condo market, and will be more than a daytrip resort for Vegas folks. Apparently that is what the resort hopes too, and what the developers hope. I am not sure it is what a bunch of the locals that vote and run the town want, but the only thing I can do is register to vote in Brian Head and cast a ballot.

Posted by Justin at November 20, 2007 05:11 PM