Boarder enjoys an early run at Park City Mountain Resort.

Vail plans to connect Park City, Canyons

BROOMFIELD —Vail Resorts Inc. (NYSE: MTN) announced Monday it will spend $50 million on upgrades to its Park City and Canyons ski areas that includes connecting the two areas creating the largest single ski area in the country with more than 7,300 acres of skiable terrain.

The plan will be subject to approval by Summit County and the city of Park City.

For the 2015-2016 ski season, Broomfield-based Vail Resorts intends to operate the two resorts as one brand under the name Park City Mountain Resort. The Canyons base area will be renamed Canyons at Park City.

Components of the $50 million capital plan include:

An eight-passenger, high-speed two-way gondola from the base of the existing Silverlode Lift at Park City to the Flatiron Lift at Canyons. The Interconnect Gondola will have an unload at the top of Pine Cone Ridge to allow skiers and riders the opportunity to ski into Thaynes Canyons at Park City via gated ski access or to the Iron Mountain area at Canyons through new trails that will be created from Pine Cone Ridge. This will mark the first gondola at Park City since The Gondola was dismantled in 1983.

The King Con Lift will be upgraded from a four-person to a six-person, high-speed detachable chairlift and will increase lift capacity. The Motherlode Lift will be upgraded from a fixed-grip triple to a four-person, high-speed detachable chairlift, also increasing lift capacity.

— Build a new Snow Hut restaurant at the base of the Silverlode Lift and next to the Park City terminal for the Interconnect Gondola, with 500 indoor seats. The plan also includes an upgrade to the “scramble” area inside the Summit House restaurant to improve the flow of diners. At Canyons, the Red Pine Restaurant will be renovated to accommodate an additional 250 indoor seats. This upgrade follows the recent renovation and increase of 150 seats to the Cloud Dine restaurant at Canyons.

Additional snowmaking on two trails in the Iron Mountain area of Canyons, which will become increasingly central ski terrain given its proximity to the Interconnect Gondola. The plan also includes almost $5 million of “catch up” maintenance and upgrades at Park City, given the lack of spending at the resort over the past few years.

Vail also on Monday reported a loss of $64.5 million, or $1.77 per share, for its first fiscal quarter of 2015 that ended Oct. 31,compared with a loss of  $73.4 million, or $2.04 per diluted share, in the first quarter of the prior year. Total net revenue increased $4.9 million, or 3.9 percent, to $128.3 million for the three months compared with the same period in the prior year.

“Our first fiscal quarter is historically a loss quarter since our mountain resorts are not open for winter ski operations,” Vail’s chief executive Rob Katz, said in a prepared statement. The quarter is driven primarily by our summer mountain activities, dining, retail and lodging operations, and administrative expenses for our year-round employees.”

Sales of season passes through Dec. 4 for the 2014/2015 ski season were up approximately 13 percent in units and approximately 16 percent in sales dollars versus the comparable period in the prior year.