Hidden Valley ski area in Wildwood plans expansion – St. Louis Post

WILDWOOD • The Hidden Valley ski area in
Wildwood will embark on a $2 million expansion this summer, marking
the largest investment in its nearly 30-year history.

Only 45 acres of Hidden Valley’s 250-acre property currently can
be skied. After the expansion, the skiing terrain will increase by
30 percent, including the addition of a nearly 2,000-foot ski run.
The ski area’s longest ski run now is about 1,500 feet.

While the skiing area will increase, the expansion won’t expand
Hidden Valley’s existing boundaries.

Wildwood-based Peak Resorts, which owns Hidden Valley, will add
a four-person chairlift and snow-making equipment as part of the
expansion, with all of the improvements completed by the start of
the next ski season.

Skiers and snowboarders also will have new menu items to choose
from. Peak Resorts plans to spend $500,000 on expanding its dining
area, which has mostly remained unchanged since Hidden Valley
opened in December 1982.

Food and beverage offerings helped drive sales at Peak Resorts’
12 ski areas nationwide in the company’s most recent fiscal year
that ended April 30.

After the expansion is completed, Hidden Valley will add about
20 jobs, said Tim Boyd, Peak Resort’s chief executive and
president. Hidden Valley currently employs more than 200
people.

Boyd said Peak Resorts is investing in Hidden Valley to meet the
demand from an increased number of visitors who are coming from
outside the St. Louis area. Hidden Valley had 84,100 visitors in
fiscal year 2011.

“We’re becoming much more of a regional destination, and we’re
getting a lot more people from Memphis, Mississippi and other
areas,” he said. “We’re by far the closest to them than any other
ski area.”

The mild weather this year has caused visitors to Hidden Valley
to decline more than 20 percent this ski season. But Boyd said he
takes a long-term view of his business, and the mild weather won’t
stand in the way of his expansion plans.

Peak Resorts has invested heavily in snow-making equipment and
facility improvements at Hidden Valley in recent years, but it has
faced controversy over its expansion plans. In 2008, Boyd
threatened to close the ski area in a dispute with Wildwood city
officials after the city attempted to impose a $252,000 fee related
to a “green space” ordinance tied to new development.

The city ultimately approved plans for a new tubing run, parking
lot and maintenance facility in 2010, and Wildwood Mayor Tim
Woerther said he’s happy to see Hidden Valley expanding again.

“Given the state of the economy overall, it’s great to see a
company add employees,” Woerther said. “I and the city recognize
the value of Hidden Valley and what they bring to the area.”

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