Life’s a beach at Copper
SUMMIT COUNTY – Intrawest homeowners at Copper Mountain and elsewhere are vital stakeholders in the continued success of the Canadian resort company, general manager Steve Paccagnan said Saturday morning, offering a sunny assessment of Copper’s recent performance and outlook as he launched the annual state of the resort meeting in the conference center.More than 7,000 Intrawest homeowners have invested billions of dollars Paccagnan said, emphasizing Intrawest’s commitment to building a vibrant, viable resort community.Paccagnan highlighted efforts by Copper merchants during the past year. The Guitar Town event was a good example of merchant-driven creativity, he said.”The Village Company gets the credit … to put some money in an incubator and shake it up a little bit,” Paccagnan said. Building a vibrant commercial sector and balancing it with the residential component is part of the recipe for resort sustainability, he said. Several key indicators were positive, Paccagnan continued. With Powerpoint images flashing on twin screens behind him, he said occupancy was up 8 percent over the previous season, revenue per available room grew 22 percent, taxable revenue climbed 7.8 percent and the average daily room rate was up $12.”Growth of commercial business? It’s been a challenge,” he said, noting the addition of Starbucks, the Lazy Lizard, with the “best-ever margaritas,” McGillycuddy’s Irish Pub, and the roomy, quieter Storm King Lounge replete with big leather couches and moody mountain storm photos.Paccagnan also singled out several outstanding rankings in a survey done by RRC Associates: Copper was number one in Front Range market share, was most-improved over past three years, and scored the highest with regard to employee attitude and customer service.
Paccagnan also touted Copper’s “beach” scene, favorably comparing the sunshine factor to the scores of other resorts he’s seen during decades in the industry.A pavilion and umbrella bar anchor the new outdoor features in the Central Village, adding to the already buzzing vibe in the core slopeside area curved around the distinctive Burning Stones Plaza.Moving Copper’s halfpipe, and adding to the arsenal of snowmakingMost spots at the base will feature clear views of a new halfpipe carved low on the mountain, giving slopeside sippers a chance to ogle the snowboarders tail-grabbing their way through the frozen tube.Paccagnan credited close collaboration with the Forest Service in getting the halfpipe project done. That village-mountain synergy extends up the slopes with 10 new snow guns added to Copper’s arsenal. The resort will also farm the snow on Tucker Mountain more intensively with a series of snow-catching panels. The goal is to open the north-facing slopes earlier in the season, and add a second passenger snowcat which will boost service all the way to the top of Tucker Mountain.
A more far-ranging “master plan” environmental study from the U.S. Forest Service is also due soon.”We’re really close to having this completed. I think, I know … by Christmas we would expect Forest Service approval,” Paccagnan said. That slate of projects has been under study in various configurations for six years, including the partially implemented learning area upgrades, new snowmaking, lift upgrades, gladed trails on the front of the mountain, and lift access to Tucker.Paccagnan said the Conoco replacement represents a significant capital investment in partnership with Conoco, and he won a round of applause when he praised the resurfaced resort roads. In adressing last winter’s Gravity Games, Paccagnan said the event served as a great example of the resort working with the wider community to successfully stage a major event.”We proved to the Board of County Commissioners that we could do it right,” he said.This past summer, the Cyclefest was also big event, drawing 10,000 visitors over three days.”I know it’s a little loud. But it’s only three days. They’re good people and they have money to spend,” Paccagnan said.
After Paccagnan, Intrawest VP for the Colorado region Joe Whitehouse and senior VP of operations Gary Rodgers gave homeowners a first detailed look at the conceptual draft of a base-area rezoning that would gradually add up to 639 units at the resort.Copper execs and planners are still in preliminary talks with homeowner associations and other stakeholders, and feedback on the process so far has been positive. Early talks with county planners have also been favorable, Whitehouse said. He is hopeful that a joint BOCC-Ten Mile Planning Commission work session can begin reviewing the new plan this fall, with a formal application for a planned unit development amendment submitted before the end of the year.As outlined by Whitehouse and Rodgers, the redevelopment plan would boost parking, add a slate of community benefits and introduce a significant affordable housing component as well. The new 15-year plan grew out of community feedback garnered during a long time-out after an earlier proposal was denied by the county last year.Whitehouse said the resort hopes to keep the plan simpler this time around, and hopes that changes in the county’s review process will ease the review and approval process.Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228 or at email@example.com.
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