Heavenly plans continue despite Vail shake-up
Although the departure of Vail Resorts’ President Andy Daly was deemed as a cost-cutting measure, Heavenly’s parent company remains as committed as ever in its pledge to rebuild the South Shore ski resort, management said Tuesday.
Heavenly President Blaise Carrig, who will run the ski area in its first year under Vail control, assured the South Lake Tahoe community Tuesday the corporate change will have little effect on day-to-day operations here.
Carrig met with Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Adam Aron that afternoon in Vail.
There’s a hiring freeze among Vail’s year-round corporate management, but Heavenly still plans to hire its 1,000 seasonal employees to take it through a year that may bring strong El Nino-driven storms. At its peak, Heavenly operates with about 1,600 employees.
“There’s no cost-cutting changes to be made to the organizational structure, but there will be a realignment,” Carrig said.
He defined the realignment as departments under review over who reports to whom.
“I met with Adam, and there’s still a high enthusiasm for the Heavenly project,” Carrig said.
His statement was backed with further dedication by Vail’s top brass.
“Vail Resorts is still every bit as enthusiastic (Tuesday) about our plans for Heavenly as we were on the day in May when we announced its acquisition,” Aron said in a statement. “While it is true that a tough external climate is causing most companies in America to re-evaluate their priorities, we are committed and intend to follow through with our planned Heavenly improvements.”
The ski-area operator bought the resort last spring, pledging $40 million in improvements over the next five years to get Heavenly up to a Vail-endorsed standard.
Skiers and boarders will kick off the year with a new run called the Meteor, an intermediate-to-advanced route located on the Nevada side off the Dipper knob.
In addition, the snowmaking system expanded to the Tamarack lift near the gondola. The Gunbarrel face will also receive more man-made snow from the system.
Visitors also should notice a dramatic change in the California Base Lodge, which was gutted to add about $2 million in improvements, Carrig announced.
Stagecoach and East Peak lodges also received improvements by means of new carpet and paint as well as revamped bathrooms. Plans also call for re-opening Boulder Lodge.
Skier visits from the resort’s gondola is expecting a boost from the November opening of Marriott’s two time-share hotels as part of the city’s Park Avenue Redevelopment Project.
Amid community enthusiasm for the change in management, Vail bought Heavenly for $102 million in cash and liabilities seven months ago from American Skiing Co., a severely cash-strapped Newry, Maine-based ski-area operator that was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange.
Colorado resorts took a hit from Mother Nature last year, adding to uncertainty over the economy, terrorism and, now, potential war.
Economic analysts describe Vail’s move as prudent.
The publicly-traded company closed down Tuesday at $13.75 a share on the NYSE.
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