Powderhorn owners find partners to help grow operations

The owners of Powderhorn Mountain Resort have partnered with a management company and investment firm as part of efforts to further expand operations.

The owners have entered into a long-term lease with Pacific Group Resorts Inc. (PGRI) to operate Powderhorn and also brought on ZOMA Capital as an investment partner.

Ken, Tom and John Gart of the Gart Companies joined with Andy Daly in 2011 to purchase Powderhorn on the Grand Mesa east of Grand Junction.

The owners installed the Flat Top Flyer high-speed quad chair for the 2015-2016 ski season and increased snowmaking capacity while also constructing mountain biking trails for the summer season.

The latest moves are intended to further expand both winter and summer operations and position the resort for continued growth, Daly said in a news release.

Those plans include the Palisade Plunge, a proposed mountain biking trail extending 32 miles from Powderhorn to Palisade.

The inclusion of the Grand Mesa in the new federal Opportunity Zone program offers additional incentives for investors through favorable treatment of reinvested capital gains and forgiveness of taxes on new capital gains.

Robin Brown, executive director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, welcomed the news. “Today marks the confluence of several strategic partnerships that will not only support Powderhorn’s long-term success, but will advance the Grand Valley’s determination to drive economic development through outdoor recreation and tourism.”

Based in Park City, Utah, PGRI owns and operates resorts in Maryland, New Hampshire and Virgnia as well as Canada. The company and its affiliates have been involved in the development and construction of base villages at Copper Mountain in Colorado as well as mountain resorts in California, Utah and Canada. The company also has been involved in commercial real estate acquisition, development and construction at resort properties.

Mark Fisher, executive vice president of PGRI, said he’s happy to add Powderhorn Mountain Resort to the portfolio. “We’re quite pleased to bring this new partnership to fruition and to extend our commitment to the creation of rewarding resort experiences to the Western Slope of Colorado. The stunning natural environment makes it clear why guests love this region, and we’re honored to be a part of its growth.”

Fisher said there’s another connection in that Vern Greco, president and CEO of PGRI, is originally from Denver, worked as an executive at resorts in Durango and Steamboat Springs and was chairman of the  Colorado Ski Country USA trade association.

Based in Denver, ZOMA Capital is the investment arm of Ben and Lucy Ann Walton. The company’s global investment portfolio spans multiple asset classes and sectors, but emphasizes projects addressing economic, environmental and social challenges in Colorado and Chile.

Daly said he expects the partnerships to build on the momentum of a new season pass program at Powderhorn branded “Mission: Affordable.” The program includes special offers for first-time and beginner skiers and snowboarders.

Daly said the program has resulted in dramatic growth in sales of season passes, more than half of them to new pass holders.

“This season, Powderhorn introduced the Mission: Affordable season pass program, which has been a smashing success, bringing thousands of new customers to Powderhorn for affordable skiing.”