The Battle for Park City Ski Properties Heats Up   

Greg Limeberry

Park City

Rarely is the adventurous world of Park City skiing associated with hostile corporate strategy, but in reality the resort-peppered mountains make up a businessman’s battlefield in the midst of a full-scale war. According to an article on Outside, owners of a few ski resorts are vying for land and eying a 7,500-acre mega resort along with it.

The Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) operates almost exclusively on private land. PCMR owns the base, but a company named Talisker owns the land that holds the lifts and inclined runs necessary for skiing. Talisker had been operating Canyons Ski Resort, one of a trio of resorts located northwest of PCMR; however, in March 2011, PCMR failed to send in the paperwork to renew the land it leased from Talisker.

Though it may seem a simple mistake could be rectified, it’s important to note that PCMR had a lease dating back to the 1970s that gave them full use of the land, estimated around 3,500 acres for only $150,000 a year. By industry standards, it was the best deal in the sky business, giving PCMR an incredible advantage against its competitors.

Once realizing the mistake, PCMR tried to cover up its misstep by post-dating the paperwork. Still, it was too late. Talisker promptly sold the operating lease of Canyons to Vail Resorts, the largest sky resort company in North America for $25 million plus a percentage of revenue. Vail Resorts’ decision to purchase would put it in control of both the PCMR property and Canyons, leaving them with a combined mega resort of 7,500 acres.

Naturally PCMR attempted to fight it out in court but as of late May, a judge ruled that Talisker was legally within its right to lease the land it owns to Vail Resorts. Now, to add insult to injury, PCMR has threatened to remove its lifts and disallow access to the resorts from the private land it owns at the base. Valid threats or not, it’s clear that the resort owners plan to continue this battle throughout the summer.