Powderhorn hires resort veteran

Daren Cole

If you had to build a résumé for the new general manager at Powderhorn Resort, you might spend hours compiling the desired qualifications.

Or, you might just hire Daren Cole and call it good.

That’s what happened earlier this week when the ownership of Powderhorn announced Cole, 45, was the resort’s new GM.

“He’s just the kind of guy we were looking for,” said Powderhorn co-owner Andy Daly, the Colorado Ski Hall of Famer and former Vail Associates executive who earlier this summer purchased Powderhorn along with partners Tom and Ken Gart.

“We worked together at Vail Associates where he was involved in sales and marketing and I was always very impressed with him.”

Cole boasts an impressive 18-year history in the ski industry, including stints at Durango Mountain, Vail and most recently Crested Butte.

While at Crested Butte, Cole revamped the marketing and guest services divisions, and last year the resort won the 2010 National Ski Areas Association’s award for Best Overall Marketing and Guest Services.

He previously owned a consulting and marketing firm named Synergy Sales Solutions, focusing on business development and strategic sales planning for the travel industry.

In a recent conversation, Cole said the general manager position came somewhat as a surprise.

“I had been talking with Andy and the Garts ever since they bought (Powderhorn) about consulting for them but the general manager topic never came up,” said Cole, with a laugh. “We had some good talks and then last week they called me and made me an offer.”

Daly said he and the Garts were discussing the position and Cole’s name kept coming up.

“As we started looking around (at potential candidates), he was talking to one of the Garts and they said, ‘He’s got so much energy and creativity, we ought to talk to him,’ ” Daly said. “Knowing he was close to finishing his engagement with Crested Butte, we gave him a call.”

Cole is expected to begin his new role at Powderhorn on Oct. 24.

Cole was born in Grand Junction and moved with his family to Denver when he was 5. He graduated Colorado State University with a degree in commercial recreation and tourism with an emphasis in marketing and sales.

His wife, Becky, will stay in Crested Butte until they find a home in the Grand Valley.

Cole’s father, Denny, still lives in Palisade.

Daren said that even though he returned every summer to visit his relatives in Palisade, he doesn’t remember much about skiing at Powderhorn.

“I probably skied there a few times,” he said. “We primarily lived in Denver and the Front Range but I spent all my summers in Palisade picking fruit for almost all the farmers.”

He said the vision the new Powderhorn owners have focuses on building better relations between the resort and its employees, guests and the surrounding communities.

“The vision is designed to be a strong community partner, to focus on strengthening both community relations and guest services on the mountain,” Cole said. “We’ve got some great momentum with Andy and the Garts coming here, with their skiing heritage and great leadership.”

He said he sees Powderhorn with a “huge opportunity to grow and succeed.”

“It’s going to be interesting and fun,” he said.


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