Edgar Stern, a successful businessman from New Orleans, had the revolutionary idea to create a ski resort with world-class service
and amenities never seen outside a five-star hotel. His foresight redefined the ski industry and changed Park City’s resort culture forever.
Born in New York in 1922 and raised in Louisiana by an entrepreneurial family, Edgar got his start in business at age 26 when he returned from World War II and started a broadcasting company with his father and put the first commercial TV station on the Gulf Coast on the air. Next door was a vacant piece of land where Edgar built a luxury hotel called the Royal Orleans. Eventually, Edgar moved away from broadcast entirely and into real estate development and hospitality, opening the Gulf Coast region’s first air-conditioned shopping mall.
Edgar and his wife, Polly, relocated to Aspen, Colorado, in the late 1960s and developed Starwood, a progressive residential development focused on preserving open space. The project enticed residents like John Denver and Stein Eriksen. During that time, Edgar noticed that many ski resorts didn’t have the highest standards when it came to food or amenities — if he were to build a ski resort, he decided it would be different.
By the early 1970s, he had renovated a rundown apartment building in San Francisco and opened Stanford Court Hotel, one of the era’s most prestigious hotels. The project further whetted his appetite for five-star hospitality.
In 1968, the Sterns visited Park City and eventually acquired Treasure Mountain (now Park City Mountain) and some adjacent property from United Park City Mines. Edgar worked tirelessly to develop Treasure Mountain and turn Park City into a ski destination. He invested in new lifts and lodges, helped attract the U.S. Alpine Ski Team, and brought his good friend and ski racer, Stein Eriksen, to the area.
But by 1975, amidst a nationwide recession, Edgar was fending off creditors and had to sell the resort. He held onto the land bordering Treasure Mountain with plans to return to his project when the economy was better. His dream was to take that land, once graced by the Snow Park Ski Area, and build a resort that combined the services and comforts of a luxury hotel with spacious, flawlessly groomed ski slopes. At that time, most ski resorts were modest, family-run establishments with bare-bones amenities.
Edgar’s friend, Stein, who had been part of Treasure Mountain, helped Edgar survey the land and offered guidance on how to build the finest ski resort and hotel the country had ever seen. In late 1981, Edgar realized this vision and opened Deer Valley Resort, a service-oriented ski resort with luxurious accommodations, the finest dining, and exceptional amenities like on-site childcare and ski valet service.
Deer Valley Resort more than lived up to one of Edgar’s favorite sayings: “If you don’t go first class, don’t make the trip!” It was the first resort to offer guests things like boxes of tissues at the base of every lift and footrests on each chair. Deer Valley became the talk of the ski industry — a world that had never seen this level of quality and service.
Almost exactly one year after Deer Valley’s opening day, Stein Eriksen Lodge opened its doors. Stein had staked out land for the lodge long before Deer Valley opened, and Edgar said he would grant him the plot if he could bring in guests within the first year. Stein delivered. Within a year, the lodge was featured in Town & Country magazine.
Over the years, Edgar and Stein frequented the slopes together. Stein, who was the director of skiing at Deer Valley for 35 years, usually tried to give Edgar, who was known as “no-turn Stern,” a few ski tips.
A humble man, with a quiet manner, Edgar’s vision for Deer Valley became a model for success in the ski industry. Since its inception, Deer Valley Resort has consistently won accolades and awards, but very few people who bumped into Edgar on or off the slopes knew that he was the man behind the vision. To honor his work, the Utah State Senate named Edgar the “Father of Utah’s Ski Industry” in 1992.
Edgar passed away in 2008, leaving behind a rich legacy and a blueprint for success in the ski industry. In 2017, his family sold Deer Valley Resort to Alterra Mountain Company who has maintained the elegance and luxury that Edgar first envisioned.