I reminded myself to breathe. It wasn’t the biting fall chill from the open ATV ride to the top of Hidden Peak but the excitement of seeing something I’d only heard rumors about since the 90s that made me hold my breath.
There it was; like a mythical bird hoarding its kingdom.
Ever since moving to Utah I had heard about Snowbird Resort’s plans to build a grand lodge at the top of their 11,000 foot-high tram; a revolving euro-restaurant crowning the 78,000 square-foot respite. But political maneuvering from various environmental groups delayed ground breaking year after year.
Instead, ever since the 90s, I’ve bashfully cruised by a makeshift shack that posed as housing for the extreme resort’s illustrious and hard-working ski patrol and the toilets I was often forced to use. These glorified port-a-potties are the only “facilities” at the top, outside of nature. As much as I love a stiff breeze spanking my bare bottom I’m not about to drop trou amid hundreds of the riding public whizzing by. My options were limited if I didn’t (or couldn’t) ski down to Mid-Gad or the tram plaza.
Visions of chrome and granite danced in my head; enough stalls to cover a tram-load of pinched bladders; self-dispensing soap and hand lotion; possibly a corner loveseat to hide out from the world if the altitude sneaks up on you; free, individually wrapped tampons.
The U.S. Forest Service ultimately approved Snowbird’s construction plans in 1999 after they agreed to shave off a few thousand square feet. Things didn’t start to rock and roll until spring 2014, however, when Ian Cumming (dad to John Cumming of Powdr Corp. fame) purchased the majority share in the resort and infused the area with capital.
The new 33,000 sf footprint lays east; adjacent to the tram terminal. You’ll still have to walk off the tram and into the building because basically housing the tram inside the building would involve stabilizing your dining experience every time the tram docked.
Inside will be a year-round coffee/pastry shop, Ski Patrol barracks, a cafeteria, 360-degree views of the American Fork Twin Peaks and the Wasatch Mountains from curved windows that eliminate glare, a table-service restaurant open for lunch and dinner, a basement level for kitchen and storage, 10,000 square feet of outdoor decking and ground-floor bathrooms (no stairclimbing). Hidden Peak Lodge (not the official name but I hope it sticks) debuts in winter 2015/16 at the same time the shack is leveled.
They say “Good things come to those who wait.” This is gonna be good!