DENVER Powderhorn CEO and President Steve Bailey spent about 30 years in the U.S. Air Force before he and Dean Skalla bought the ski area in 1998.
Thirteen seasons later, the 1,600-acre resort will be offered at auction Aug. 4 with no minimum bid.
Bailey, 70, said the western Colorado resort east of Grand Junction is profitable. Its just time for him to retire, and Skalla is leaving the ski business, too.
We looked in the mirror awhile back and said, Youre getting kind of old, Bailey quipped Friday.
He said he is willing to stay with the resort during the transition to a new owner, but his next plan is to use his motor home to see more of the country with his wife of 46 years.
Though resort officials have talked to potential buyers, Bailey said an auction seemed the fastest way to sell Powderhorn for cash and have it in new owners hands before the next ski season. Bidders can buy the whole resort with four ski lifts, a lodge, 16-room inn, mountain operations building, equipment maintenance facility, dry storage building and an administrative building, or they can buy pieces.
J.P. King Auction Co. is handling the auction.
Bailey wouldnt disclose how much he and Skalla paid for the resort in 1998, but property records for the resorts address listed a sales price in 1995 of $1.1 million, according to the Mesa County assessors office.
In the last 13 years, managers made improvements to its parking lot, ticketing and water system, among other changes. Powderhorn, in Mesa County, gets about 75,000 to 85,000 skier visits each year.
Nationwide, skier visits have risen from an annual average of about 50.2 million during the 1980s to about 60.1 million this last season, according to preliminary numbers from the National Ski Areas Association. However, industry officials have been preparing for what could happen if baby boomers leave the sport and their kids and grandkids dont replace them.
It is unclear what will happen to the resorts about one dozen full-time employees when a new owner takes over. Bailey said customers and staff have both been loyal.
Ive been told, Mr. Bailey, your staff is happier and better at 4 oclock in afternoon than X-Y-Zs staff at 9 in the morning, he said. That gives me great comfort. Thats what weve been focusing on. This is a place where you felt comfortable, not intimidated, not overwhelmed. Its your place. I think we succeeded with that.
Bailey grew up in northern Utah and became an Air Force pilot after college, then got involved in the investment business and eventually bought Powderhorn with Skalla.
We decided this was an opportunity wed like to take a chance on, he said. We never looked back, and weve never been sorry.
Though travel is likely ahead, Bailey said he has no intention of moving from Colorado.
If heavens no better than Colorado, Im not going, he joked.