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‘Who are these guys?’ New owners to expand, continue Sundance legacy

5th January 2021 | Craig Altschul

News Regions: Rocky Mountains

Resorts in this article: Park City, Sundance, Telluride, Vail

Iconic Sundance Resort has new owners

Iconic Sundance Resort has new owners

Copyright: Sundance Resort photo

The Sundance Kid is not a kid anymore. Robert Redford, 84, has sold his unique resort mixing bowl of inspirational culture and outdoor pursuits to a combo of two real estate investment firms with national and international experience in world-class hospitality properties. That experience doesn’t include skiing. No matter. Here’s why:

“Sundance is a uniquely beautiful place,” Bill Jensen, who might be as legendary in the ski industry as Redford is in the movie world, told OnTheSnow.com. “It’s so peaceful, so natural, a totally different feel or vibe than, say, Park City or Vail or Aspen. All the elements are there for us to continue the legacy and expand it.”

Jensen, who left as Telluride’s CEO last summer, has been named a partner and senior adviser at Broadreach Capital Partners, one of the two investment firms. His role will be in strategic planning and positioning, not in day-to-day management (“the resort executive team will stay in place”). Bringing in this U.S. Ski Hall of Famer gives the new owners “instant street cred” and experience. 

Investment groups combine

Broadreach, based in Palo Alto, Calif., and Cedar Capital Partners, headquartered in London and New York, combined last month to acquire the iconic Utah resort, named in the 2019 Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards as the number one ski resort in North America. 

The synergy between the two investment firms starts with Broadreach Managing Partner Philip (“Flip”) Maritz, who is also a senior adviser to Cedar. Redford and Maritz first discussed a sale almost two decades ago, but Redford wasn’t ready to pass the torch yet. 

Robert Redford at Sundance  - © CTV news

Robert Redford at Sundance

Copyright: CTV news

“I had been searching for years for the right people to take it to the next level, so that I could take that weight off my shoulders and enjoy my life," Redford told the Associated Press at the time of the sale. “I gave it some time, and kept questioning him and pushing him. His answers held up. So I said, ‘OK, this is the time and I think this is the right guy.’”

The sale price was not disclosed, but as Maritz told Utah media, It wasn’t all about the money. “He was more concerned about legacy, stewardship, fit, philosophy.”

The portfolios of both firms are impressive, with Broadreach having redeveloped iconic hotels such as The Carlyle in Manhattan; the Fairmont San Francisco; the Biltmore in Santa Barbara; Four Seasons hotels in Toronto, Houston, Austin, and in the West Indies. The extensive Cedar portfolio includes the Monte Carlo Grand in Monaco and The Savoy in London. 

The sale does not include Redford’s other assets and Sundance projects including the Sundance Institute, the Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Catalog, Sundance TV or the Redford Center. The resort will continue to host workshops and events organized by those entities.  Redford also announced his family has put 300 acres at the base of Mt. Timpanogas, in an area popular with cross-country skiers, into the Redford Family Elk Meadows Preserve in partnership with Utah Open Lands.

“But, don’t be fooled,” Ben Leahy, Cedar managing director and a lifelong skier, told us. “We see Sundance in a different category than all these luxury places. Sundance is all about what nature created.” 

Bill Jensen, Ski industry icon advises on resort icon  - © Telluride News photo

Bill Jensen, Ski industry icon advises on resort icon

Copyright: Telluride News photo

The Jensen factor

Jensen’s 47-year ski industry career began as a “liftie” at Mammoth in the 1970s and moved on from there to the highest-level executive roles at Intrawest (now Alterra), Vail, Sunday River, Northstar, Breckenridge, Whistler and Telluride. His track record and quiet demeanor has made him a well-liked and respected leader.

He told us he met ‘Flip’ Maritz about 20 years ago during his tenure as Vail’s chief operating officer. Maritz has a home in Vail. Jensen said he signed on as a partner with Broadreach to bring a strategic vision and positioning for the future of Sundance, particularly when it comes to its winter life as a ski resort.

The summer experience at the resort includes the Sundance Institute from May to July, but the entire season invites guests to choose a variety of outdoor adventures. The resort website puts it like this: “Bike, hike, ride a horse, raft a river, or catch a fish. Stroll through a shady aspen grove, wade in a cold mountain stream, enjoy our private park - The Hollow. In Sundance, Utah you can be more than a human being, you can be a human doing!” Basically, the idea is to offer an adult summer camp, Maritz says.

But in winter, activity shifts to 12,000-foot Mt. Timpanogas, the behemoth in Provo Canyon, where the resort sits peacefully in the North Fork. Top elevation of the ski service area is 8,250. The 42 ski runs are spread over 450 acres of steep bowls for advanced skiers and groomed slopes for beginners and intermediates.

Jensen told us his group intends to invest in the resort infrastructure by doubling the available ski terrain to 850 acres and adding in more novice territory. The plan is to add three new lifts, replacing one with a high-speed detachable quad, as well as increasing skier services and expanding parking. 

Sundance and so much to do  - © Sundance Resort photo

Sundance and so much to do

Copyright: Sundance Resort photo

A new village lodge

He said building a 50 to75-room lodge in the village is also on the drawing board as that’s particularly important for conference business. A continued commitment to sustainability in all its forms is a given as part of the sale.

Sundance long has been popular with local Utah County skiers where Provo is the largest city and the home of Brigham Young University (BYU).

Jensen said the county will be a major focus for growth in skier numbers. Utah County’s population has jumped by double digit percentage growth every year since 2010. Sundance will continue to lure the destination vacationer as well as skiers taking a day of their ski week at the Park City resorts and making the 45-minute drive to experience Sundance. Salt Lake City is less than an hour away.

So, the memorable quote from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – “who are those guys?”- has a good answer. “Those guys” appear to be ready to do exactly as Redford has envisioned for the future of Sundance, all the while taking it to that new level.

As Jensen puts it: “There aren’t many brands like this in the ski world.”  

 

 

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