Tiny Monarch Mountain ski area thriving in the shadow of giants | SummitDaily.com

Tiny Monarch Mountain ski area thriving in the shadow of giants

MONARCH — When Bob Nicolls led his investment group to buy the 800-acre Monarch ski area in 2002, the ski resort industry was listing heavily toward real estate.

Without condos to sell, it was almost impossible to make money. Or so he was told.

"I heard that a lot," said Nicolls, one of four principal owners who joined about 10 other smaller investors to buy the flagging ski hill for a little more than $5 million.

Nicolls didn't subscribe to the industry narrative. The area didn't have real estate for slopeside condos and he didn't want to develop homes. He wanted to build a ski experience.

Fifteen years later, Monarch Mountain is thriving in an industry dominated by consolidation and Vail Resorts, the publicly traded corporate behemoth that sells 650,000 season passes a season. Across the nation's resort landscape, smaller, independent ski areas such as Monarch are thriving.

Read the full story at DenverPost.com.