Couple sees bright future for Glenwood Springs ski resort
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Connie Casey grew up riding in the back of the van to her father’s ski shop at Sunlight Mountain Resort in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
She and her brother and two sisters would ride in the shop van with whoever was managing the store any particular day. They got there before it opened and left after it closed.
“We were always the first ones on the mountain and the last ones to leave,” she said.
The ski shop van had no seats in back. Just lots of ski gear. Connie first started skiing around age 10. Her teenage kids have skied there since they were 3. She hopes one day her grandkids will ski at Sunlight. Connie is a teacher at Sopris Elementary School.
Connie’s parents, Gene and Lindy Curtis, were some of the original stockholders in Sunlight when it opened with one chairlift in December 1966. Gene was a radio man, an entrepreneur and a former Glenwood Springs mayor.
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Gene worked for KOA in Denver and moved to Glenwood Springs to take a job at KGLN.
“He was kind of the voice of Glenwood Springs,” said Connie’s husband, Steve Casey.
Gene also owned sporting goods stores in the area called All Star Sports. Lindy was a model from Nebraska who met Gene in Denver.
Steve works for Holy Cross and serves on Sunlight’s governing board. He got interested after he started to attend the annual shareholders meetings around 15 years ago. Steve, who isn’t a Glenwood Springs native, said Sunlight represents a broad mix of both locals and nonlocals.
“I just felt like we needed some more local input at the board level,” Steve said.
“We always had a huge interest in Sunlight just because of our history,” Connie said.
Steve and Connie don’t really worry about the resort’s future and they’re optimistic it will find a way to become profitable enough to stay open. News came out in early January that a proposed sale to Florida-based Exquisite Development fell through. The company entered a contract to buy Sunlight in late 2006, contingent upon winning county approvals for development.
A plan to develop an 830-residential-unit base village got the thumbs down from Garfield County staff, the county Planning Commission and the Glenwood Springs City Council. Sunlight plans to bring the proposal to county commissioners anyway on May 18. Sunlight President Richard Schafstall said in the fall the resort had lost almost $1 million operating over the previous 11 years and it needs development to survive and fund on-mountain improvements.
Steve said there are obstacles to overcome but they’re not insurmountable. He believes Sunlight’s board will continue to pursue development in some form or selling to a group that wants to buy the resort and redevelop it.
“Particularly with the recent news about the sale, I look at Sunlight as a diamond in the rough. I think it’s a vital asset not only to Glenwood Springs but also to Garfield County,” Steve said.
He said in addition to Sunlight’s small, friendly and affordable atmosphere, the intangible things like its local flavor, Mount Sopris views and knowing the people on the mountain make it what it is. He said, “You can’t put a price tag on that.”
Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121