BEAVER — Southern Utah residents now have two nearby options when the urge to go skiing or snowboarding hits them.
Eagle Point, Utah’s 14th and newest ski resort is now open for business. It’s located about 18 miles east of Beaver and Wednesday was the grand opening.
“It’s fantastic, and it’s only going to get better,” said St. George resident Erik Gueller. “I can’t believe how much snow is already up here.”
Eagle Point is located where Elk Meadows ski resort used to be. Elk Meadows last operated eight seasons ago before the owners declared bankruptcy.
“I remember everybody saying this was such a great hill,” said James Videla of St. George. “So now it’s just awesome to finally have some investors open it back up for everybody.”
That investment team is led by Shane Gadbaw, the founder of Xe Capital Management based in New York City. Last year, Gadbaw and two other investors paid $1.6 million to bring the old Elk Meadows property out of bankruptcy.
“Before we bought it, we did a lot of studying of what went wrong with the guys in the past, and we don’t want to get into that, but we’re pretty comfortable we’re doing something different,” said Gadbaw.
Gadbaw’s team decided to buy the resort during the stock market crash because the price seemed right.
“It was one of those rare opportunities that came up,” said Gadbaw, “the timing was good. The market had crashed and we were willing to take the property, warts and all, and clean it up.”
Some of those improvements include the resort's two lodges; the Skyline Lodge and the Canyonside Lodge. The resort's five lifts are also reconditioned and workers did a lot of improvements to the infrastructure.
“This is not just kind of wiping the cobwebs off the old resort and getting it cranked up,” said Ski Utah President Nathan Rafferty, “They’ve done some great improvements.”
Eagle Point’s vision is to be a family friendly destination.
“We’ve got something for everybody here, so you should feel right at home,” Gadbaw said.
As excited as Gadbaw is, Beaver Mayor Mark J. Yardley may be just as happy. He says the new ski resort is going to help those in his city who have been hurting from the down economy.
“To come in those doors today and see our local people up here working, it was a blessing,” said Yardley. “Some of those folks have been needing a job.”
Eagle Point’s first day already attracted new skiers and snowboarders. Kassidy Keller and her husband decided to celebrate their seven-year anniversary on the resort’s first day.
“It’s kind of fun to be here on the opening while we’re celebrating something, too,” said Keller, a St. George resident.
Others were just happy to have a choice in local skiing.
“Brian Head is great, and I love Brian Head,” said Gueller, “but it’s nice to have a little bit of variety, too.”
Eagle Point will have 40 runs and is expecting more snow this week.
“It’s awesome,” said Videla. “It’s nice there is another option now for sure.”