Business Leaders, Business World

Squaw Valley CEO Andy Wirth Says Better Days Are Ahead

Lake Tahoe’s north shores community has seen better days. First, a drought took a heavy toll on local businesses and resorts that depend on visitation dollars. Then an incorporation battle threatened to change the area’s civic and business climate.
Squaw Valley Resort CEO Andy Wirth says he is relieved that both problems have been resolved.

“Our community has had a rough go over the last few years,” said Wirth. “First the weather then the incorporation effort. I wasn’t sure if we would survive it.”

With the help of El Nino, early storms are hitting the area and producing massive amounts of snow. This pleasant surprised led to area resorts opening well before the ski season.

Backers of the Olympic Valley incorporation (Learn more: http://www.rgj.com/story/life/outdoors/recreation/2015/12/03/squaw-alpine-boss-looks-turn-page-divisive-fight/76735928/) effort formally withdrew this past week.

Wirth says the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent to fight the incorporation effort was money well spent. Had the effort passed, the local area would have experienced higher taxes and decreased services.

Wirth says regardless of how they tried to spin it, it would have been disastrous for the community.

Backers answered Wirth’s allegations by stating that the efforts to stop incorporation seemed to be more personal than business. California’s Local Agency Frmation Commission agreed with Wirth and pumped the breaks on the effort.

Wirth says despite the division, the one thing they all have in common is the love for the area.

Wirth has been a mainstay in the community since he was installed as CEO in 2010. Since that time, he has transformed Squaw Valley Resort into one of the best in the U.S., if not the world.

He has over 25 years in the resort industry, having worked for Steamboat Springs Resort for several years. Wirth says he was determined to address all of the issues put forth by visitors over the last few years. He started with a complete overhaul of the ski area and infrastructure. The latest plans call for a gondola to connect Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows.

In an effort to enhance airport travel, the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority Board recently made Wirth a member. “His extensive experience within the resort industry and international airline experience makes him the obvious choice for the position,” said a board member.