Powderhorn Ski Resort to be sold

Owners, who want to retire, plan 'absolute’ auction


Powderhorn timeline

1930s — Skiing begins on Grand Mesa at Land’s End.

1940 — Grand Junction Ski Club members build a ski area near Mesa Creek.

1950 — U.S. Forest Service issues a permit for Mesa Creek and allows for expansion of the ski area.

1966 — First runs are built at Powderhorn.

1986 — Texas developer Jim Scott buys Powderhorn.

1990 — Powderhorn files for bankruptcy.

1995 — Telluride developer Ted Martin buys Powderhorn.

1999 — Steve Bailey and Dean Skalla buy Powderhorn.

June 1, 2011 — Powderhorn announces it will be auctioned Aug. 4.

Sources: Colorado Ski Museum, “Powder Ghost Towns” by Peter Bronski

Powderhorn Ski Resort will have a new owner by the time skiers hit the slopes again this winter.

The 48338 Powderhorn Road property on Grand Mesa will be auctioned Aug. 4 at the resort. A time for the auction has not yet been selected.

Partners Steve Bailey and Dean Skalla decided to sell the resort because they want to retire, Powderhorn spokeswoman Sarah Allen said.

“The two partners are around 70 and want to enjoy life,” Allen said.

Skalla and Bailey chose to have an auction instead of waiting for a buyer on the real estate market in order to expedite that journey to enjoyment, Allen said.

“To be able to have a one-day sale and know who the owner is at the end of the day is convenient for them,” she said.

Bailey, who is president and chief executive officer of the resort, was out of the office Wednesday but released a statement on the sale via email.

“We’re excited for what the future of Powderhorn can be, and we know the potential that it has,” Bailey wrote. “On behalf of the current ownership and staff, we are looking forward to the transition for this gem of western Colorado.”

Gadsden, Ala.-based J.P. King Auction Company will conduct the auction of the 1,600-acre resort. Four ski lifts, a lodge, the Inn at Wildewood, 750 acres of real estate and various Powderhorn operations buildings will be included in the “absolute” auction, which means the highest bid will get the resort, regardless of how small that bid may be.

It’s unclear how many bidders a ski resort will attract, but J.P. King Communications Manager Caley Newberry said most of the resort, large-scale estates and housing complexes the company specializes in get up to a dozen bidders. Demand for such properties declined during the recession, but it has picked up in the last six to eight months, Newberry said.

Newberry said the company hasn’t auctioned a ski resort in the two years she’s been with the auction house.

Even if ski resorts aren’t a common item on the real estate market, some have found buyers recently. In November, ESPN.com reported Vail Resorts purchased California ski resort Northstar-at-Tahoe. The same report noted Idaho’s Tamarack Resort has been searching for a new owner since 2008.

Although ski resorts may have been a tough sale a couple years ago, 2009–10 and 2010–11 were near-record winters for skier and snowboarder visits to U.S. resorts, according to the National Ski Areas Association. Visits to Rocky Mountain region ski resorts increased 4 percent year-over-year this past winter, according to the association.


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