SALT LAKE CITY — Vail Resorts is set to make official Wednesday that it is combining Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort under one name and logo in a move that will allow the ski industry titan to market it as one of the largest ski areas in North America.
Vail officials are planning to make the announcement at an afternoon presentation in Park City featuring Park City Mountain Resort chief operating officer Bill Rock.
The combining of the two well-known ski resorts has been expected since Vail purchased Park City Mountain Resort last year for $182.5 million.
Vail announced plans for a connecting lift in December as part of $50 million in investments at the two resorts. Other plans include major upgrades of two lifts, new and improved restaurants and better snowmaking.
The projects are expected to be ready by the 2015-2016 ski season.
Last season, skiers could buy one ticket and ski both resorts this season. But without a connecting lift, they had to take ground transportation to do that.
Ralf Garrison, a Denver-based ski industry consultant with The Advisory Group, called it a sound strategic move by Vail to play the "bigger is better" card.
Research shows that skiers are attracted by new, bigger and better, Garrison said. Ski resorts around the world make such claims. Some play up having the largest vertical drop. Others tout having the most skiers or most lifts.
"There are significant bragging rights that seem to go along with being the biggest resort," Garrison said. "And no one in the mountain resort industry is better positioned to play the 'bigger is better' game. . . Vail Resorts is already the metaphorical 900 pound gorilla with its corporate presence."
Earlier this month, Vail purchased Australia's largest ski resort, Perisher in New South Wales, for $134.8 million to add to its international list of resorts.
The National Ski Areas Association doesn't track the size of U.S. resorts by skiable acres to say for sure which is the biggest, but it says the 7,300 combined acres of skiable terrain certainly will make it among the nation's largest.
The lift under construction that will connect Canyons and Park City Mountain could be a key lynchpin in a long-term plan the Utah ski industry is working on to build a series of chairlifts that would link seven ski areas and give Utah a European-style experience.