Lee Benson, Deseret News
MIDWAY — Seven years ago, Steve Eddington found his retirement Shangri-La.
As befits discovering paradise, the search was extensive. From their home in Houston, Steve and his wife Cheryl – their kids grown and married – had spent considerable time and energy as 50-somethings scoping out the ideal spot to set up their hammock once Steve wrapped up a successful career in the apartment building industry.
They looked in the East, they looked in the South, and then, when they looked in the West, they found just the place.
This place: the western slope of the Heber Valley.
It had an ideal climate, an ideal elevation, it was in the mountains but close to a picturesque small town – and it wasn't far from where they started out in life, which helped clinch the deal. Steve was born and raised in Lehi; Cheryl in Layton. They met at the University of Utah and from there they set out into the world to find their fortune.
But not long after they bought their retirement townhouse at Zermatt, a new resort on the west side of Midway, trouble began brewing. The development ran out of money. The bank took it back and it went up for foreclosure sale.
Who knew what would happen next? Would they close the pool, the spa, the shops? Would the place go to rack and ruin?
So Steve rounded up 11 other concerned Zermatt homeowners, they combined their resources and bought the resort.
Then, for good measure, he joined with Bill Barton and Rick Bluth, both also Zermatt owners, and the three of them bought the Homestead resort across the street.
The Homestead had been for sale for several years, and Steve and the others had heard local rumors and concerns that someone was going to come in and buy the resort, bulldoze the 126-year-old hotel and subdivide the land.
"We couldn't let that happen," says Steve, "it just wouldn't be right."
Consequently, Midway's two biggest resorts – developments that employee over 400 people and between them rent out nearly 600 rooms – are now owned by people who not only live in the area but have no intention of going anywhere else.
"I'm gonna die here," proudly states the 63-year-old Eddington, although hopefully not anytime soon.
All of the Zermatt/Homestead owners, Eddington insists, feel the same way. Very provincial. Very protective.
"Our goal is to keep it special," says Eddington. "It touches you, this place. When you spend a little time here, you're just glad you're here. It's a good place to sleep at night."
There are no plans for theme parks, or carnival rides, or high-rise hotels, or golden arches.
The new owners are remodeling, however, particularly at the Homestead. The resort closed completely for the first three months of this year for refurbishing.
Among the new touches is a bridge across the iconic crater. Now, strollers can look straight down into the hot springs below rather than only from the edges.
And they've changed the name and made minor design improvements to some of the holes on the golf course formerly known as Homestead. Now it's Crater Lakes Golf Course, an amenity available to folks staying at Zermatt and Homestead, as well as to the general public.
"Everything is under the same umbrella now," says Eddington. "We're all one big family."
And a happy family, by the looks of it. No bankers lurking around with foreclosure notices. No bulldozers. No freaked-out locals.
Although Steve Eddington does, every now and then, wonder how he managed to retire and still stay so busy.
"I thought I was going to move here and slow down," he says.
Goes with the territory when you buy your retirement home, and then buy the place that runs it.
Lee Benson's About Utah column runs Monday and Friday.
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