Powderhorn saw bump in business in 2011-12

As most Colorado ski areas sloshed through a tough season of historically low snow levels, Powderhorn Mountain Resort received a boost in business this winter and is working to secure funding to enhance both winter and summer activities.

That was the positive report issued by Andy Daly, a member of Powderhorn’s new ownership group looking to build upon a series of upgrades it made upon acquiring the resort last August.

“The last two or three owners, their focus has been on real estate. Our team has a passion for skiing,” Daly told Mesa County commissioners Monday during a segment of their meeting when business owners are invited to share the status of their industry with the board.

Daly, one of four managing partners along with Ken, Tom and John Gart, told commissioners Powderhorn’s total skier days grew 7 percent during the 2011–12 season over the previous year. That bucked the statewide trend of a 7 percent decline, according to Colorado Ski Country USA.

Coming off that strong showing, Powderhorn has turned its focus to enhancing what it has to offer in the next year or so. The resort has received a Colorado Housing and Finance Authority grant and is contemplating other ways to obtain financing to expanding its snowmaking capabilities and upgrade its lifts.

Daly said the resort is working on a long-term lease with the city of Grand Junction to bring water from the top of Grand Mesa through the city-owned Somerville Ranch. That could allow Powderhorn to open before Thanksgiving and extend its season three to four weeks, he said.

Improvements to the lifts would allow them to operate during the summer and cater to mountain bikers. The resort wants to build a series of mountain bike trails.

Other future, new summertime activities could include a zip line and an alpine slide, Daly said.

He said the resort will begin implementing some improvements this summer but expects to bring most on board in 2013.

The projects identified by Daly would come on top of more than $800,000 in improvements introduced last fall, including an extensive remodeling of the base lodge and improved slope grooming, snowmaking and customer service.

Commissioner Steve Acquafresca, who said he began skiing at Powderhorn in the 1960s, credited Daly and the Gart brothers with creating a “well-focused plan.”



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