Q&A: Meet the new president of Winter Park
May 23, 2017
Winter Park Resort was left with a void after Gary DeFrange stepped down as president of the popular ski destination earlier this year, but Sky Foulkes is ready to take over as the resort's fourth president in its 77-year history.
Foulkes graduated from Colorado State University in 1982, and is the former president of Stratton Mountain ski area in Vermont. Most recently he was chief operating officer for Intrawest Denver, which was purchased by Aspen Skiing Co. earlier this year.
Sky-Hi News interviewed Foulkes this week to learn more about his plans for Winter Park Resort.
Sky-Hi News: What is your vision for the future of Winter Park?
Sky Foulkes: Winter Park is an extraordinary place, with a world-class mountain experience and supportive community in close proximity to a fast growing and outdoor-minded metropolitan area. Gary DeFrange, in his tenure at the resort, built an incredible foundation with expanding on mountain experiences, the creation of the village, and culminating with the return of the ski train. I am hopeful that along with the great team at Winter Park, and the support of the community, that we can build upon the foundation that Gary left us and establish Winter Park as the premier mountain community focused on providing an expanded year round authentic active lifestyle that builds upon all of the amazing experiences that the Fraser Valley has to offer. With our connection to and support of the city of Denver and the energy that exists there, we have a great opportunity to be the place to play and enjoy the mountains.
SHN: Why did you take the job, and what excites you most about it?
F: I thoroughly enjoy working with people and being in an environment that creates lasting memories for our staff and guests. The resort industry is exhilarating, with each day brining new opportunities and challenges, which is very energizing, not to mention we are able to work and live in an amazing place. I think the thing that is most exciting about this job is the opportunity to be part of the next evolution of Winter Park where so many opportunities abound.
SHN: You've been working with ski resorts for years, what inspired you to take this on as a career?
F: I studied outdoor recreation at Colorado State University with the anticipation of working in some capacity in the outdoor industry. I had always wanted to spend a winter at a ski resort being a life-long skier, so after I graduated I was able to get a position as a ski patroller at Stratton Mountain in Vermont. The more time I spent in the industry the more I became inspired by the people and the opportunity to share the mountain lifestyle with our guests, creating life long memories. I enjoy the dynamics of the resort industry and the opportunity to work with people in a fun and exhilarating environment. I have been fortunate to work with great people and in a variety of capacities throughout my career; it has been incredibly rewarding for my family and myself.
SHN: What changes, if any, can we expect to see at the resort?
F: We have an excellent foundation from which to build upon and we will continue to look for ways to improve the guest experience, to expand our offerings, and to work with our partners to enhance and promote the many opportunities that exist in the area.
SHN: Will there be any changes to energy, snow-making, or water policies?
F: As part of our master planning process, and in conjunction with the various agencies that we work very closely with, we are evaluating opportunities to increase and improve the efficiency of our snow-making capabilities.
SHN: Are there any plans for expansion?
F: Yes. We are currently working on updating our NEPA master plan, which will spell out some of the terrain expansion plans that we have in mind.
SHN: What are the biggest challenges you see as president moving forward?
F: I think the biggest challenge that we face is to ensure our experiences and offerings remain authentic and differentiated so as to be relevant to our guests, making them choose to visit us ahead of the many other things that they could opt to do. The mountain environment offers an amazing escape from all the pressures of daily life and I am hopeful that we can find a way to share that with more people.
SHN: What do you think your role will be in tackling major industry issues such as climate change?
F: We will continue to be involved with and supportive of our industry colleagues and the efforts that our trade organizations are leading to address the issues facing our industry including climate change. As a collective group we continue to work on effective solutions. At the resort level we remain focused on energy management and other initiatives to reduce and mitigate our impact. Being good stewards of our resort and land is very important to us.
SHN: What do you think of the culture surrounding Winter Park?
F: I think it is amazing. A true mountain community culture that is very authentic with a genuine low-key vibe. Everyone I have met seems to be supportive of the community and the resort. They are focused on enjoying and promoting all of the amazing activities that the Fraser Valley has to offer.
SHN: Do you ski or snowboard?
F: I do both., though I generally ski more often. I also enjoy Nordic skiing as well.
SHN: What do you like to do in your free time?
F: I enjoy doing most active outdoor sports, particularly hiking, road biking, mountain biking, running, triathlon and, of course, skiing.