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Snowbasin planning major expansion, including 300-room Club Med hotel

By Tim Vandenack - | Sep 25, 2021
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Skiiers go down a slope at Snowbasin, the Weber County ski resort, in this undated photo. Snowbasin officials unveiled plans to upgrade the resort on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2021.
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Earl's Lodge at Snowbasin, on the right, and the main parking area at the Weber County ski resort are shown in this undated photo, taken from a ski slope. The area around Earl's Lodge is to be turned into a "resort village," per expansion plans announced Thursday, Sept. 21, 2021.

Snowbasin has quietly been planning for big changes.

Now, operators of the Weber County ski resort are moving forward. They unveiled ambitious plans this week to build a 300-room hotel on Snowbasin grounds, add new retail offerings and upgrade some of the lifts that haul skiers. Some of the work is already underway and hotel construction is to be complete by the end of 2024.

“These new developments put us on track to become the world-class resort destination envisioned for Snowbasin,” said Davy Ratchford, the ski resort’s general manager. The planned improvements will be the most significant upgrade to the resort since changes implemented ahead of the 2002 Winter Olympics, he said.

Snowbasin is a big draw for local skiers, he said. But the resort’s operators now aim to increase the draw to skiers from beyond Utah and around the world. Adding the hotel — to be built by Club Med, which operates resorts around the globe — is a key prong of that effort.

Image supplied, Snowbasin

This rendering showing some of the planned changes at Snowbasin, the Weber County ski resort. Snowbasin officials unveiled plans to upgrade the resort on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2021.

Powder Mountain, another Weber County ski resort, offers a range of lodging options for skiers, including cabins and townhomes, but none of the three resorts here currently feature a hotel. Nordic Valley is the other Weber County ski resort.

The new Club Med hotel is to be built on the grounds of the Old Day Lodge and Wildcat parking area, southeast of Earl’s Lodge and the main Snowbasin resort complex. Work is to start in 2022, according to Snowbasin, and be complete by late 2024.

“It’s a new building. It’ll be a complement, for sure, to Northern Utah,” Ratchford said.

Planned developments are also planned around Earl’s Lodge, the main focus of Snowbasin activity outside of the slopes, including space for restaurants, shops, lodging and more. Work on the “resort village,” as it’s dubbed, is to start in 2025. The ground-floor space will tentatively be earmarked for retail operations while second-floor space will be reserved for lodging, perhaps condos, though Snowbasin reps have yet to work those details out.

Longer term, over the next 20 to 30 years, perhaps, resort operators contemplate additional change, addition of an expansive complex of lodging north of Earl’s Lodge, in what is now parking space and wide open terrain. East West Partners is aiding in that element of the plans.

Ratchford didn’t provide a dollar figure for the planned improvements, but he said the scale is on par with the upgrades that preceded the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Snowbasin, privately owned by the family of the late Earl Holding, who acquired the resort in 1984, was a venue for alpine ski events during those Olympic games.

A PATIENT COMPANY

Ratchford said planning ahead of this week’s announcement has been in the works in earnest for around two and a half years, though such expansion has been contemplated for years. “We’re a very patient, methodical, well-thought-out company,” he said.

Some of the work, though, is already underway. Parking has been expanded by around 435 spaces and work to replace the Middle Bowl Triple, one of the many lifts at Snowbasin, should be done before year’s end. Other lifts are to be upgraded or added and a new area that’ll serve beginning skiers and those still learning is also to be developed.

Officials in Weber and Morgan counties approved some of the Snowbasin development plans in the early 2010s, paving the way for the planned upgrades. Some elements will still face review and approval by county officials, though. Part of Snowbasin’s expansive grounds extend into Morgan County.

Snowbasin’s plans have generated excitement in the skiing community. “The feedback has been exceptional,” Ratchford said.

Development in the Ogden Valley area can be a delicate topic, though, and more input will be sought at a pair of informational meetings planned for next week. Preregistration is required and the Snowbasin website says the meetings are already at capacity.

Club Med offers all-inclusive packages at its resorts, including multiday packages that cater to international travelers. Ratchford envisions the planned hotel appealing to shorter-term visitors from the region as well.

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