Family ski vacation guide with the best ski resorts for family skiing

Month: October 2014

Who will open first for skiing?

chairrideIt’s that time of year, as the leaves fall off the trees and each morning is a bit frostier than the previous, our thoughts (well, mine at least) turn to ski season.  Sure enough, some of my ski buddies share in my alpine enthusiasm. We start talking about who will open first for skiing,  big ski trips planned, any new gear we are considering purchasing – the topic of the best new skis always comes up, and whether it will be a big snow year. Are the squirrels gathering more acorns than usual? Are the caterpillars fuzzier than the norm? Prognostications and predictions among Yankee skiers is almost laughable… but then there is the legendary Almanac. The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a cold winter in the East, that’s always a good sign – they offer an 80 % prediction success ratio.  Better than most local meteorologists….

For 2015, the Farmer’s Almanac predicts: “Winter will be much colder than normal, with near-normal precipitation and below-normal snowfall in The East. The coldest periods will be in mid- and late December, early and mid-January, and mid- to late February. The snowiest periods will be in mid- to late November, mid- and late December, and early to mid-March.”

In the Rockies, “below normal snowfall, the coldest periods will be late December and mid- to late February north, and mid-December south.”

That’s the word from the weather gods using their highly secret methods developed by Almanac founder Robert B. Thomas  dating back to 1792.  The Almanac winter weather predictions are apparently based upon solar science, sunspots, climatology, prevailing weather patterns and meteorology. By comparing solar patterns and historical weather with current solar activity, they manage to predict weather trends with 80% accuracy.

My takeaway, big snow in November – so let’s hope for some early skiing in The East and the usual Western Ski resorts known for opening early.

Have your ski and snowboard gear ready to rock, Halloween then skiing! Or maybe Halloween skiing at Killington, Sunday River, Arapahoe Basin, and Loveland! I personally love when the Beast of the East and The River duke it out for first open bragging rights, same goes in Colorado between ABasin and Loveland…the winner is always the skier! Arapahoe Basin opened first for skiing in the country Oct 17, 2014, same as 2013.

See our Guide to the Top Early Season Ski Resorts:

Top Early Season Ski Resorts in the East and  Top Early Season Ski Resorts – West

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

Deer Valley buys Solitude in Utah


Deer Valley Resort announced its purchasing Solitude Mountain Resort to begin operating the ski resort  May 2015. This just a month after Vail Resorts bought Park City Mountain Resort, Vail Resorts also operates The Canyons in Utah. See the below release from Deer Valley Resort:

Solitude is an incredible resort and provided a huge opportunity for us to expand our offerings right here in Utah,” said Bob Wheaton, president and general manager of Deer Valley Resort. “Solitude is in a unique position with their widely varied terrain that attracts both local and destination skiers. We are ecstatic to be able to add the resort to the Deer Valley® family.”

“The DeSeelhorst family has enjoyed being a part of Solitude’s history for almost 40 years. We are proud of what we have been able to accomplish at the resort and in our mountain community,” said Dave DeSeelhorst, owner and general manager of Solitude Mountain Resort. “We feel very fortunate for the opportunity to have worked with so many amazing people in our industry and most importantly being able to work with our incredible staff at Solitude over the years. It is exciting to pass on this unique and beautiful resort to one of the best resort operators in the country, Deer Valley.”

For the upcoming 2014-15 ski season, Solitude will operate as usual under the leadership of the DeSeelhorst family. To foster the most effective and strategic change over, select Deer Valley staff will work alongside Solitude staff during the next six months to evaluate resort operations and gain knowledge about the Solitude brand and culture. Deer Valley will then take full ownership of Solitude Mountain Resort on May 1, 2015.

Why did Deer Valley Resort enter into an agreement to purchase Solitude Mountain Resort?
Deer Valley recognized a great opportunity to expand within the Utah market by adding Solitude Mountain Resort to the Deer Valley family. Solitude is an incredible resort, with both family friendly and expert terrain, and we are sincerely excited to begin working with the staff.

Amount Paid? Assets acquired?
This is a private acquisition.

How will this purchase change the experience at Solitude?
It will be business as usual, run by the DeSeelhorst family, at Solitude for the upcoming 2014-15 season. Deer Valley recognizes Solitude’s unique position in both the local and destination markets and acknowledges that we have much to learn about the current operation and brand position. Consequently, we will have select Deer Valley staff work hand in hand with Solitude staff this winter to share knowledge.

Does current Solitude staff need to worry about their employment?
Deer Valley does not anticipate any major changes in staffing at Solitude at this time.
Will snowboarding still be available at Solitude? How about the Brighton connection?
Deer Valley plans to continue allowing snowboarding at Solitude and keep the Brighton connection in place.

What about One Wasatch? Now that Deer Valley intends to own Solitude does a connection from Big Cottonwood Canyon to Deer Valley, instead of Park City Mountain Resort, make more sense?
One Wasatch has been analyzed over the years and the present lift alignment recently released by Ski Utah seems to make the most sense.

Will it become a mini-Deer Valley?
Although Deer Valley will bring some of our service oriented and operational philosophies to the resort we do not plan to rebrand Solitude as another Deer Valley.

Will the name change?
At most, Deer Valley would make a small adjustment to the name to let current guests and potential visitors know the resort is now part of the Deer Valley family. We believe there is a lot of awareness and brand equity in the Solitude name.

Will there be a reciprocal arrangement for skiing benefits between Solitude and Deer Valley Resort?
Deer Valley Resort and Solitude Mountain Resort full season pass holders will receive four ski days at each respective resort. Deer Valley midweek pass holders will be given two passes valid, Monday through Friday, at Solitude for the coming season. Holiday restrictions will apply: December 24, 2014 – January 2, 2015; January 17 – 19, 2015 and February 14 – 16, 2015.

Will Solitude be added to the Wasatch Benefit program?
Deer Valley anticipates the Wasatch Benefit program will remain as announced in September with shared lift privileges for select season pass holders between Alta, Deer Valley and Snowbird.

Will lift ticket, locals and season pass prices increase dramatically due to the purchase of Solitude by Deer Valley?
There will be no changes to the lift and season pass rates announced by Solitude for the 2014-15 season. Moving forward, Deer Valley Resort will analyze past resort performance, operational expenses and projected revenue potential prior to setting rates.

Will Deer Valley bring more capital and marketing investments to Solitude?
Deer Valley will take the next six months to analyze operational and marketing/brand opportunities prior to announcing any capital investments. In addition, Deer Valley will begin promoting the great experience and resort jewel Solitude currently is in spring of 2015.

Does Deer Valley plan on buying any more resorts?
Although Deer Valley is not actively pursuing purchasing another resort, we have always been open to analyzing opportunities that may be a good fit for Deer Valley.

Did Deer Valley purchase Solitude in response to Vail Resorts’ purchase of Park City Mountain Resort and Ian Cumming’s purchase of Snowbird? Absolutely not. Deer Valley has entertained many opportunities to purchase resorts over the years and in the end, those opportunities did not make good business sense. Solitude came to us at the right time and for the right reasons including: the location in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah; past business practice and performance; and great awareness in the local market.

So there you have it ski and snowboard friends… things are heating up before snow season Utah!

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

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