Andy Daly and Gart brothers Ken and Tom take over at Powderhorn Resort

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Yesterday marked the official ownership transition at Grand Mesa's Powderhorn Resort: Andy Daly and brothers Ken and Tom Gart bought the ski area at auction on August 4 for just $577,500, plus an additional 700-acre development tract below the resort for $825,000, spending a total of $1.4 million and announcing big plans to polish one of Colorado Ski Country USA's 'gems.'

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"We're really excited about the sale," said Melanie Mills, president of Colorado Ski Country USA. Powderhorn is one of the nine ski areas featured in Colorado Ski Country's Gems Card discount program, aimed at attracting new visitors to some of the state's small but sweet resorts. "Andy Daly, who was a two-time chairman of our board and has an extensive background running some of the best resorts in Colorado, brings a great deal of operations and guest-services experience to the table."

Daly, former president of Vail Associates, Inc. (now Vail Resorts), lives in Vail, where he currently serves as Mayor Pro-Tem on the Vail Town Council. Before his Vail Associates gig, he'd held top spots at Copper Mountain, Beaver Creek and Eldora, and before that, he'd been a ski patroller at Aspen. Powderhorn has always been popular with the locals and skiers and snowboarders from Grand Junction; Daly and the Gart Brothers are hoping to help turn more skiers on to Powderhorn as a destination mountain.

"Powderhorn is a wonderful gem and we are excited to bring our skiing expertise and capital to provide the best overall experience for you and our outdoor community," write Daly and the Garts, in a statement featured at Powderhorn.com. "Guest service, new terrain parks, snowmaking and grooming improvements will be made this year based on our goal of enhancing the Powderhorn experience."

The first step in polishing this particular gem as it enters its 45th anniversary season? Daly and the Gart Brothers have dropped the early-bird season-pass price to $399 (thanks to partnerships with some of their fellow Colorado Ski Country "gems," the Powderhorn season pass also incudes three free days at Ski Cooper and three free days at Monarch, plus another three free days at Ski Apache in New Mexico and half off at Crested Butte Mountain Resort) and extended the early-bird date to October 14. They say they're working on both immediate plans to improve the quality of the guest experience for the 2011/2012 season and long-term capital improvement projects on the mountain, including major lift improvements to begin next summer.

Look for more information on what they're getting up to in November, when we publish Westword's annual winter supplement, The Edge.

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