New Heavenly Mountain Resort COO eager to start work in Lake Tahoe region

J.P. Kelsey
A skier grabs some turns at Heavenly Mountain Resort in February 2017.
Courtesy Abby Hein / Heavenly Mountain Resort |

Just in time to get geared up for another season, Vail Resorts recently named Mike Goar as the Tahoe-region vice president and Heavenly chief operating officer. Goar brings over 40 years of ski industry experience, and prior to arriving at Lake Tahoe, he was VP and COO at Vail’s Keystone Resort in Colorado.

In his new position, Goar will be overseeing Heavenly, Kirkwood and Northstar.

Goar replaces Pete Sonntag, who is transitioning into his new role as Whistler Blackcomb’s COO.

“I’m very exited to be here,” Goar told the Tribune. “I knew quite a few of my co-workers before I got here and the reputation they and Heavenly have — and all of the resorts in Tahoe — they all have a wonderful reputation. We’re quite proud of the work our three resorts do. That’s probably the most exciting thing, to come here and be a part of those teams. It’s quite an honor to be joining them. “

Skiing has always been a big part of Goar’s life and the sport really drew him in as a young person.

“I was just so drawn to the sport,” said Goar. “The passion and energy was such an amazing experience. I started out working part-time at a ski resort and got the feeling this was what I wanted out of a career.”

Goar has been with Vail Resorts since 2007 when it acquired Utah’s Canyons Resort, where Goar was the general manager and was at the helm of directing $37-million in capital improvement projects that included everything from new lifts to restaurant offerings.

Improvements come in various forms, according to Goar, and he and his team try to evaluate what to do based on both the guest and employee experience.

“Our decisions are based on the experience of our guests and our employees,” said Goar. “Sometimes those are major capital projects and sometimes they’re operational.”

Currently, Goar and his team have been looking at a few different capital projects that may come to fruition soon, but they’re still very much in the assessment stage.

“We’re looking at those projects and we evaluate them on what they can do to enhance the guest experience,” he said. “As we get into those projects a bit deeper, we’ll revisit the priorities and look at where the opportunities lie to make the greatest impact.”

One the biggest impact projects Vail Resorts is undertaking is its move to reduce environmental impact. According to Vail, they plan to have a zero footprint by eliminating emissions and delivering no waste to landfills — all by 2030.

“This announcement is every bit impactful and certainly exciting as an acquisition,” said Goar. “This has said more about our company and what we stand for, what we think we can do. And really putting a stake in the ground by saying over the next 13 years, we’re going to strive to have zero net emissions, zero landfill waste and zero net impact in our operating environment. It’s exciting and our employees are so proud that the company has taken this on.”

Goar wants guests to have the best experience they can at any property Vail owns, whether it’s by being more environmentally conscious or just creating a memorable experience.

“They’re going to experience a big mountain with a great product, friendly employees, and people that are going to take care of them,” said Goar. “Our focus on who our customer is and what they want — we will continue to build on that and we will grow our business.

Goar isn’t all business all the time, though. He said he still hits the slopes fairly often and still enjoys it as much as he did as a young man.

“I absolutely get out and it’s a requirement of the job,” said Goar. “I work with our staff, see our guests and sample the product.”

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