About Utah: For $10K a day, you can own the place

Published: Sunday, Jan. 12 2014 10:00 p.m. MST

Panoramic view shows the Eagle Point Resort located in the Tushar Mountains above Beaver, Utah.

Lee Benson, Deseret News

BEAVER, Beaver County — Utah’s ski resorts have their signatures. Snowbird has the tram, Alta has the legend, Deer Valley has the turkey chili, Snow Basin has the Olympic downhill course, Sundance has Robert Redford, and so forth.

But none of them has what Eagle Point is offering.

Every Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, you can own the place.

For $10,000, the entire resort is all yours.

“You get all five lifts all day long,” says Lane Tucker, Eagle Point’s mountain manager. “And they can run on whatever schedule you want them to run on.”

Eagle Point is Utah’s newest ski and snowboard resort, at least in its current incarnation — the latest in a lineup of on-again, off-again enterprises on the same mountain that date back to 1971 and has included Mount Holly Ski Area, Elk Meadows Ski Area and the notorious multibillion-dollar Mount Holly Resort scheme that expired in 2009 amid an avalanche of bankruptcy petitions, fraud allegations and lawsuits.

The property is located at the end of an 18-mile ascent on a road that begins in the farmlands of Beaver next to the I-15 freeway.

From that flat, rural vantage point in barren southern Utah, a ski resort is the last thing you’d expect, so effectively are the mountaintops hidden from view.

Although once you’re in them, if you squint, the Tushar Mountains look a lot like the Alps.

Eagle Point began operations four seasons ago. It’s owned by three men, Shane Gadbaw, Joe Clough and Terry Leighton, who were involved in a New York City-based hedge fund that had invested $20 million in Mount Holly Resort in 2006. When that investment went south, the men pooled their resources, showed up at the liquidation auction, and bought the 1,200 acres that was supposed to be Mount Holly Resort for a reported $1.5 million — mere pennies, as it were, on the dollar. They turned a bad investment into a good buy.

They’ve been running and improving their resort ever since. Gadbaw even moved his family to Beaver to live full time so he can keep an eye on things and take a hands-on approach.

Their marketing strategy borders somewhere between irregular and unconventional.

“Basically,” explains operations manager Tucker, 31, who came to Eagle Point after several years as base operations manager at Brighton, “it involves a lot of free or nearly free stuff.”

Last year, for example, every Thursday was free skiing — for anyone and everyone. And people from California or the United Kingdom could ski free all season long.

This year, they’re offering a $25 day pass on Thursdays and Sundays — about half the full day pass price of $48 on Friday and Saturday. And if you work in the casino industry, are a policeman, firefighter or serve in the military, are under the age of 18, or have a season pass to any other ski or snowboard resort in the U.S., you can ski for $25 every day they’re open.

But Eagle Point is only open for business Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Which brings up their Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday offer.

Give them a call and for $10,000 you can reserve the resort.

True. Ten grand is a hefty price for a day pass — it makes Deer Valley’s $108 look paltry — but it can be for as many people as you’d like, and you can cherry pick your day. After a huge weekend snowstorm, for example, when Eagle Point’s 600 acres of runs rest silently under several tons of fresh untracked powder.

Bring 100 of your closest friends and the cost would be $100 per person for unlimited powder runs; bring 200 and it would be $50 each; 500 a mere $20.

And as Tucker pointed out, the lifts start running when you get there and shut off when you leave.

It’d be like heli-skiing, but without the helicopter.

You can also order lunch and dinner in the lodge for a bit extra.

“Bring your company, bring your club, bring your friends,” says Tucker, “and you can have the run of the place. You’re in charge.”

You could blow your money on worse.

Lee Benson's About Utah column runs Mondays. Email: benson@deseretnews.com

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