Mt. Baldy reopening December 1, new owner pledges

Maintenance, clean up and other prep work is underway as Baldy Mountain Resort plans a December 1 reopening of the Mount Baldy Ski Resort.

The company, managed by Joey O’Brien, an experienced resort operator, wants to build a four-season resort atmosphere at the South Okanagan hill that attracts visitors throughout the entire year.

Baldy Mountain Resort is already offering season passes — at $199 for adults — through its website (www.skibaldy.com).

“We want more than half of our traffic to be by season pass holders,” Joey said, explaining that’s the opposite of what many other ski hills enjoy as downhill skiing becomes more of a pastime and less of an obsession.

“When I was a kid, there were over 2,000 ski resorts in North America,” he said. “Today there are less than 700. My generation used to ski 11 or 12 times a year. Millenials ski five to six times a year.”

For that reason, the majority of the industry in North America is shifting their pricing and resulting business model to one that reflects the current market place.

“More people will choose to pay the pass rather than pay for a lift ticket each time they come out.”

Baldy Mountain Resort’s purchase of the property comes more than 18 months after the previous owners of the Mount Baldy property — Mount Baldy Ski Corporation and Mount Baldy Real Estate, ULC — were placed in receivership in December 2014.

Complicated negotiations that included finding the necessary resources to not only take the resort out of bankruptcy but enough to conduct the necessary maintenance, completing a deal with the receiver through to the prime creditor, negotiating a deal with the Osoyoos Indian Band and gaining the licenses through the provincial resorts branch were finally completed in late June and a purchase announcement was made.

“The receiver — G Force Group — did a yeoman’s job of untying the ball of yarn,” Joey said.

Baldy Mountain Resort reportedly paid $3.4 million to acquire the resort property.

Now, said Joey, the focus is on having the hill open for downhill in December.

“That’s our goal; we intend on being ready to open December 1.”

Maintenance crews are onsite cleaning up the property and renovating its structures and a contractor is busy reviewing the site’s lifts to ensure they meet code requirements

And, of course, the marketing team is getting the South Okanagan community excited about the return of its ski hill — something that hasn’t proven too difficult a task.

“It’s like a big group hug, to be honest,” said Joey of the reception he has received in both Osoyoos and Oliver.

He recounted as an example the story of one local business owner who discovered his group of customers was involved in reopening the hill.

“He just wanted to come across the counter and shake hands with everybody. That’s what we’re getting.”

Mount Baldy is located in the south Okanagan Valley of British Columbia east of nearby Osoyoos and Oliver. At nearly 5,700 feet, the resort boasts one of the highest base elevations, the most sunshine and the lightest powder of any ski resort in the Okanagan.

Joey said he expects the hill to be open for downhill skiing between December 1 and April 18.

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