Utah’s New Private Ski Resort: In a Class of its Own

Gregg Frantz | | Industry NewsIndustry News
private resort, wasatch peaks ranch, utah
Private resort. Photo Credit: Wasatch Peaks Ranch

The ski industry has changed significantly over the last decade due to changes in demographics, guest tendencies, and environmental issues.  Resorts around the world are faced with many obstacles they must overcome if they are going to survive. The glory years of the 70s and 80s are long gone for the ski industry, and trying to attract a sustainable and reliable skier base every year has become paramount.

Demographics have also changed a lot for the ski industry since the 70s and 80s, with most of the skiing population growing older and not producing the numbers it once did. The Baby Boomers are still skiing but do not ski as much as they used to. The positive news in the industry is Generation Z representing almost 34% of skier visits last year, with the hopes that the number will grow. Generation X and the Millennials participate in skiing, and on average, they individually represent about 25% of skier visits annually. However, that number does not come close to the Baby Boomers generation in their prime when they accounted for almost 32% of skiers’ visits per year.

private resort, wasatch peaks ranch, utah
Photo Credit: Wasatch Peak Resort


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People have a lot more options being presented to them to enjoy their free time, but another factor is most people’s free time is decreasing as well. Guests’ choice of where to spend their free time has become a very competitive business throughout the guest and hospitality service industries. There is competition from other sources trying to retain guests’ loyalty, like the cruise industry, all-inclusive trips to casinos, and beach resorts.

Environmental concerns and the climate are also important factors for the ski industry, which they must consider. Due to the lack of snow and colder weather, the window of opportunity for guests to visit ski resorts seems to shrink every season. This past season the U.S. saw record snowfall amounts in the west. However, the east, particularly the northeast, did not see as much snow as normal.

The two questions all ski resorts have to face are what they will do about the challenges they are currently facing and what they will do to ensure their survival in the future. Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Company have changed the industry with their Epic and Ikon passes, making it more affordable and convenient for skiers to visit their resorts. However, factors like traffic congestion getting to the mountain, long lines at the lift, and being over-crowded leave some guests just not wanting to go back.

Photo Credit: Change.org


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There is an option that has reinvented itself within the ski industry if you have the money, and that option is providing guests with their own private ski resort. Private ski clubs or mountains have been around for decades; however, they were usually smaller and very rustic at best. Today’s new private ski resorts are designed to cater to the extremely wealthy and provide amenities you will only find at world-class establishments. It is no secret that skiing has always been an exclusive sport catering to the more affluent; however, the new class of private ski resorts is taking it to a new level.

That is where Wasatch Peaks Ranch, UT, has distinguished itself in ways no other ski resort can compete. It originally opened in the 2021/22 season and is just 35 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City and the Salt Lake International Airport. It features 3,000 acres of skiable terrain, elevations ranging from 4,820 to 9,570 feet, private skiing, and one of the longest heli-ski runs (4,600’ vertical) in the U.S.

Wasatch’s size separates it from other private ski resorts or clubs, and it fits the industry’s model for being close to and accessible to metropolitan areas. Geared towards 1% of the wealthiest 1% is the targeted guest list for Wasatch, which has come with some secrecy. To say the website for Wasatch Peaks Ranch is vague is being very kind. Their website only allows a person to inquire about three things: General Inquires, Employment Inquires, and Membership Inquires. There is one tab on their website for “Account Login.”  Besides that, the only information on their website reads, “Wasatch Peaks Ranch is a private community and club in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains where members can enjoy year-round outdoor activities that start with skiing and golf and continue as far as your imagination can take you.


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Wasatch Peaks Ranch has some pedigree from Deer Valley, another ski resort in Utah that caters to the skiing elite. Wasatch’s president and CEO, Bob Wheaton, was formerly the general manager at Deer Valley. Also, one of Wasatch’s investors is Lessing Stern, the son of Deer Valley’s founder, Edgar Stern. Deer Valley is known in the skiing industry as one of the most luxurious ski resorts in the world. Although Deer Valley is open to the public, it makes one wonder what Wasatch Peaks Ranch is like knowing it was designed solely to be an exclusively private-ski resort.

There has to be something Wasatch Peaks Ranch offers to its guests that other ski resorts cannot compete with, or it would not exist. This private-ski resort provides guests with approximately 400” of snowfall a year, guaranteed-limited crowds, access to an 18-hole golf course, 80 miles of mountain biking and hiking, premier fishing on the Weber River, and big-game hunting. Wasatch initially plans to build 750 homes and provide its owners’ with plenty of acres for ultimate privacy.

Security and privacy are huge attractions for the clientele who would want to become members at Wasatch Peaks Ranch. That security and privacy come with a membership price tag of $500,000 and offers guests the ability to enjoy themselves without worrying about being bothered by outside intrusions. There are also the costs of the amenities like the golf course and the construction of the new lift systems that have been built or will be in the future. Wasatch has already covered those costs by generating at least $92 million through the sale of equity investments and memberships to cover the construction costs.

Leitner-Poma of America is one of the biggest lift construction companies in the world and offers a complete line of cable transport systems which includes: surface lifts, chairlifts, gondolas, and industrial trams. Daren Cole, President of Leitner-Poma, said, “We developed a custom plan for the chairlifts to ensure the uphill amenities are in line with the elevated guest experience at this new community” and “The plan ranges from lift alignment and capacity to state-of-the-art comforts and conveniences members will enjoy such as heated seats and bubbles to warm skiers and snowboarders throughout the season.”

Some amenities that have not been mentioned or even talked about in public or the media are usually affiliated with luxury-ski resorts. Those are restaurants and shops for their guests to visit when they are not skiing or enjoying other activities while at the resort. With restaurants and shops, it is understood that these would be Michelin Star restaurants and offer premier luxury shops that only the wealthy could afford to shop at.  However, none of those options has surfaced when discussing Wasatch Peaks Ranch. Wasatch is located close to other premier ski resorts, with Alta, Deer Vally, Snowbird, and Solitude all relatively close and offering all the amenities anyone would want. Perhaps the members of Wasatch value their privacy and security over having fine-dining restaurants and elite-boutique shops at their fingertips.

The future of the ski industry is not yet written. However, the times of smaller-independently-owned resorts are definitely in jeopardy. The rise of conglomerates like Vail and Alterra run resorts selling passes that allow guests access to a number of their resorts is more the norm now in the industry. Privately-owned resorts also look more appealing to the mega-rich who value their privacy and security over visiting over-crowded-public resorts.

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