Ski Utah’s ONE Wasatch concept is sure to boost Utah’s economy. This 18,000 acre interconnect experience will be the only one of its kind in the North America and we can leverage that to bring in more skier days than our competitors. That means more dollars from ski- and snowboard-related spending in Utah. Nathan Rafferty, President & CEO of Ski Utah, recently talked about the concept and this is what I learned.
18,000 acres. 100 lifts. 1 pass.
The Vision: Create the most efficient and enjoyable interconnected mountain resort ski experience in North America, recognizing watershed protection and backcountry ski terrain preservation as key elements.
Why Does ONE Wasatch Make Sense?
Currently, the annual impact on the Utah economy from ski and snowboard-related spending is $1.290 billion. Utah residents only account for $214 million of that. $1.079 billion of that comes from international and out of state visitors. On average, they spend $323 a day. We’re at 4.2 million skier days per year.
But, we’re still behind Colorado, California, and Vermont. Yes, Vermont.
Vermont’s advantage is that they have the whole Northeast corridor within driving distance. We have to work harder to bring people to Utah resorts. In order for us to bring more skier days in, we need an experience that no one in North America can compare to. One that easily attracts worldwide attention and generates more travel. That’s ONE Wasatch.
With this experience in our pocket, Utah can attract more of the 20 million skier days our competitors currently take in, to a tune of $323 (and growing) a skier day. We can also attract new international visitors who want an interconnect experience they haven’t been able to find in North America.
How Will ONE Wasatch Work?
First, it’s important to remember that ONE Wasatch is still in concept mode. Backcountry recreation, SLC Watershed, and individual resort experience impacts have to be measured and some hard choices have to be made. e.g. How will Alta and Solitude connect without compromising some of the best backcountry terrain in the world. How will Deer Valley Resort® limit the number of skiers on their slopes?
There is a big process ahead, but ONE Wasatch is moving forward with the full support of the seven major resorts in Utah and the new player on the block—Vail Resorts. They’re all working together to make this interconnect happens and that cooperation is what ensures this concept will turn into reality.
Right now, there are three potential connection points planned to connect Utah’s seven major Wasatch resorts— Deer Valley Resort ®, Canyons Resort, PCMR, Snowbird, Alta, Solitude, and Brighton.
All of the planned connections are also on privately held land and will be paid for with private funding. No public lands or funds have to be acquired to bring ONE Wasatch to life. But, all permits and approvals do require a public process, so the public isn’t being cut out.
What about lift ticket prices? They’ll be affordable when ONE Wasatch is complete because it doesn’t make sense if they’re not. We can’t compete if the price makes other destinations more appealing.
What About The Environmental Impact?
Protecting the Watershed and Environment and key elements of the ONE Wasatch vision. Without that, this isn’t a sustainable tourism option for Utah. No development will happen without the proper due diligence.
Also, all the ski areas and Ski Utah support the Mountain Accord, which is a multi-phase initiative to make critical decisions about the development of the central Wasatch Mountains. It’s a collaboration between public and private interests, including state and local governments, federal agencies, and business and grassroots organizations.
This means that ONE Wasatch will work with the public to preserve the environment of the central Wasatch and the integrity of Salt Lake City’s water supply while growing Utah’s developing economy.
The full timeline isn’t clear right now, but Vail is already connecting PCMR to Canyons Resort on their own in 2015 which will help the concept along.
In the meantime, Ski Utah will be advocating and educating the community about the concept and its development. The public with be involved in the process as it moves forward and everyone will be informed of new developments as they come up.
If you want to talk about how ONE Wasatch will impact the Utah economy or Park City real estate market, I’d love to talk with you about it. Give me (Scott) a call at 435.901.4309 or email me at email@example.com.