Why is the world’s best ski resort shutting down?
A former top executive for BlueGreen Resorts, the company that owns Ski Valley, said in a memo sent Monday that his company has received several death threats over the past few days, and that the company will soon stop operating its resorts in Utah, Arizona and Nevada.
The memo said the company’s resort in Utah is closing its doors because it cannot afford the rent and that BlueGreen will continue to operate at the resorts in those states.
The company’s former president, Greg Ponder, said the decision to shut down Ski Valley was based on “financial concerns,” and that he is looking into “alternative options.”
Ponder said in the memo that the resorts have been a key part of the resort community and that his departure was due to the company having “unacceptable operating conditions.”
The memo was sent in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from The Associated Press.
The resorts are a joint venture between the resort operator, Ski Valley Resort, and the Salt Lake County Public Schools.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported in July that the resort had “substantial” debt and that Ponder resigned in July because he could not pay back debts that have grown to more than $30 million.
The Tribune reported that the debt had been incurred for the purchase of ski and snowboard equipment, but that Parnell had paid off much of the debt in recent years.
Parnett had previously said he was not sure whether Ski Valley would reopen in the future.
He said in July in an interview with The Tribune that he could close the resort because it was not profitable and that “the business is dead.”
The resort was not mentioned in the letter sent Monday to the ski resort community by the Salt and Snow Lodge Association, which has filed a lawsuit seeking to force Parnetts to repay $6 million of its debt.
The lawsuit alleges that Pannell “used his influence to keep the ski and outdoor industry alive,” including by providing a $4.7 million loan for Ski Valley to purchase equipment for its resorts.
The letter said that Ski Valley had been operating under a revolving loan from the Utah-based ski company of the same name, which was bought by the resort in 2000.
The loan was supposed to pay off the resort’s debt, and Parnells loans continued to fund Ski Valley.
Pannells lawyer said the lawsuit was premature and that it would not be filed until the suit was resolved.
The suit alleges that ski industry insiders have told him that the lawsuit will “damage the resort industry.”
The lawsuit also alleges that the suit will “cause harm to Ski Valley and the Utah ski industry.”
Parnes attorneys have not yet responded to a request for comment.
The ski resort industry was not involved in the decision not to reopen Ski Valley but, as the Tribune reported, some resort managers had expressed reservations about the prospect of closing Ski Valley down.
The resort had been in a state of shutdown for several months due to a virus that caused a stampede at some of the resorts.