Property owners hopeful for resort upgrades |

Property owners hopeful for resort upgrades

KEYSTONE – With less than a week left in the ski season, there’s a mix of unease and optimism among Keystone-area property owners over what will become of the ski resort in the next year.

A management shake-up, including dozens of layoffs in the early season and a new chief operating officer in Roger McCarthy, as well as operating decisions such as curtailing night skiing and the opening of the Mountain House area, had many owners concerned this winter.

Sources at the ski area say Keystone’s management is vying for significant capital investment from Vail Resorts in hopes of infusing the faltering ski area with spirit, a new look and momentum going into next season.

Dick Upton, a Flying Dutchman condo owner since 1976 and president of the Keystone Owners’ Association, said recent visits with McCarthy and Vail Resorts chief executive officer Adam Aron left him optimistic about improvements at Keystone. Upton said he took the executives a wish list of projects compiled by property owners.

Upton said the list included improving the transportation connections throughout the resort so guests do not have to use Highway 6; creating a synergy between the River Run and Keystone Lake villages; sprucing up the entrance to Keystone on Highway 6; and maintaining the amenities that make Keystone attractive for conference business.

“We also wanted to make sure they realize how much the associations invest in Keystone,” Upton said. “Our association spent thousands on landscaping alone. We hope that when they see we’re making a good, honest effort, it will influence them in a similar fashion.”

Keystone Citizens League member Bob Follett listed some of the same projects as desirable. Follett said “things started off shaky after they canned everybody, but the snow helped.” He praised McCarthy and Vail Resorts’ director of Breckenridge development Jack Wolfe for bringing their families to stay in Keystone condos to learn about the guest experience firsthand. Not long after the weekend stay, changes were afoot, Follett said. And McCarthy made significant improvements in grooming operations, too, he added.

“I think they have in their minds good things to do – the question is, will they get the money, and will they move forward to get them done, and will they keep up with the little things that need to get done?” Follett said. “Everyone’s pondering the strategy of Avon and Wall Street here and, of course, there’s the rumor that they could sell it off. There’s a lot of unease. The primary emotion is uncertainty here.”

Some residents are skeptical. Homeowner Kimberly Allison said Keystone has always been her family’s favorite ski resort, but she was skeptical that an entranceway or landscaping would do much to improve the resort. She was also disappointed in a letter sent to property owners by Upton urging them to stuff the ballot boxes in skiing-related magazines in Keystone’s favor.

“I’m hopeful, but we’ll have to wait and see,” she said.

McCarthy could not be reached for comment. Keystone spokesman Mike Lee said that any on-mountain improvements would have to go through a formal approval process with the U.S. Forest Service. Lee said other planned improvements would be announced soon.

“We’d definitely like to have more of a sense of arrival at Keystone,” Lee said. “We’re always looking at ways to improve the resort.”

In announcing season pass sales last month, Vail Resorts announced a new, Keystone-only ski pass. Vail Resorts senior vice president of sales and marketing, Martin White, said in the announcement company officials hoped the pass would focus attention on the ski area.

Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or

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