Royal Gorge picks up Ice Lakes Lodge | SierraSun.com

Royal Gorge picks up Ice Lakes Lodge

David Bunker

The Bay Area developers who purchased Royal Gorge cross country ski resort last year added the Ice Lakes Lodge to their holdings on Donner Summit earlier this month. The 26-room lodge will become part of the 9,000-acre cross country resort after it is upgraded and re-opened, according to the new management.”There aren’t going to be any startling changes,” said John Slouber, the founder of Royal Gorge, who now is managing the resort for Redwood City developers Todd and Mark Foster and Burlingame developer Kirk Syme.The lodge was purchased from majority owners Matt and Vicki Williams, and various investors, on Jan. 6, according to Slouber.The Fosters, whose family developed Foster City, Calif., and Syme now own nearly 4,000 acres of private land on Donner Summit and two lodges. A third lodge, the Wilderness Lodge, is being rebuilt at Royal Gorge and the company has plans to build a fourth lodge and 18 homesites near Lake Van Norden.Roughly 5,000 acres of Royal Gorge’s 9,000 acres is leased from the U.S. Forest Service.While property owners on the Summit knew that the change in ownership was coming, Serene Lakes Property Owners Association President Martin Bern said many Summit residents were sad to see the lodge change hands.”It was a community effort to build the lodge,” Bern said. “In a way, the community thinks it’s their lodge even though they don’t own it.”Most of the staff at the lodge quit after it was purchased by Royal Gorge, said Slouber, although they were offered the opportunity to stay on when the lodge re-opened.Slouber said that the lodge is being updated and inspected and the owners hope to open up again soon.”We’re rushing as fast as we can,” Slouber said.One of the changes to the lodge will be that the building will not be blocked out for weddings, Slouber said. Although the lodge will continue to honor reservations made by the past owners, they will keep the lodge open to the public even when a wedding is scheduled.For Wes Horner, who had a wedding planned for August at the lodge, the changes to his agreement for the ceremony and reception were too much. Horner is asking that the lodge return his deposit and allow his guests to cancel their reservations. He plans to book his wedding at a different location.”The way they’ve treated us we don’t want to spend our money there,” Horner said.But the modest changes at the Ice Lakes Lodge are just precursors to more large-scale changes on Donner Summit under the new owners of Royal Gorge, many area residents believe.sidebarLast Saturday the new owners of Royal Gorge and Ice Lakes Lodge traveled to Donner Summit and met with property owners in Serene Lakes, said Martin Bern, president of the Serene Lakes Property Owners Association. While the owners divulged little about their plans for their property, they did hear an earful from the community, Bern said.”It was a lively outpouring of questions and comments,” he said of the two-hour meeting that drew more than 100 Donner Summit residents during a snowstorm. “[The owners] held their cards very close to the vest.”But Bern, and many other summit residents, are bracing for change that they know may not be that far off.”They didn’t spend $30 million-plus to sit on the land,” Bern said.Sidebar: Royal Gorge at a glance• More than 9,000 acres of skiing terrain• The largest groomed track system in North America (330 kilometers)• Ninety trails• Four surface lifts• The world’s largest cross country grooming fleet• Ten warming huts• Four trail-side cafes- http://www.royalgorge.com