In a small little area of the world, over 10,000 years ago, snow melted in the Wasatch Mountains running through cracks and fissures in the ground until it reached 2 miles under the surface. It then began to heat and rise back up, bringing minerals with it. Eventually, that process created what is now known as the Homestead Crater.
Midways Natural Wonder
The Homestead is one of the most unique properties in Utah and has received well-deserved attention for over 125 years. Maria and Simon Schneitter originally built Schneitter’s Hot Pot Resort on the property, which officially opened in 1891. In 1907, Simon J. Schneitter married Fanny Miles, and they operated the resort together. Fanny’s restaurant still stands as a tribute to her and her famous fried chicken.
It wasn’t until the mid-90’s that Craig Simons brought his innovation to the property to create easy access to the inside of the crater. Until then, inside access required dropping in from the top. The Simons family was given permission to create an access tunnel through the limestone sides — if they paid for it. They used fifteen tons of dynamite to blast through. The Simmons added electricity and dressing rooms, creating a one-of-a-kind opportunity for visitors and residents of Wasatch County.
Classic To Classy
The Homestead has stood as a symbol of heritage for over 125 years, and now it is approaching a significant transformation. Although a previous group had plans to demolish most of the buildings, that application was withdrawn. On October 18, 2019, The Homestead Group, LLC purchased the property, with Slate Canyon Hospitality managing the hotel. The new owners have big plans to continue the Homestead tradition by cultivating an upgraded vision for the property that they hope will maintain the current magic while enhancing the amenities offered. They believe Wasatch County residents will be pleased with the results.
Aside from removing a few storage buildings that could be deemed unsafe, The Homestead Group intends to “launch a full-scale renovation of each building, both inside and out, throughout the property.” They are also planning to “beautify” the golf course with some improvements.
“A common theme that we hear is that the property is a bit tired, and given our background in hospitality, we couldn’t agree more,” The Homestead Group stated. “The thought of reinventing the Homestead Resort & Golf Course was intriguing to us. Hearing that the previous potential buyers wanted to use it as a development opportunity and remove many of the buildings was disappointing. Our main goal in this purchase is to bring life back to the Homestead and make it a beautiful resort that is relevant for generations to come.”
Several areas within the Homestead property are especially nostalgic for residents of the Heber Valley. While the Virginia House is currently the only building on the Historic Registry, many feel just as attached to the main building where the lobby and restaurants are housed. The current owners plan to keep the lobby building intact, but with some improvements to upgrade the guest experience. “A few of these changes include: bringing the drive all the way up to the main building, which will allow our Valet and Bell team to create a better guest arrival and check-in experience. The front desk will move to a different area. The restaurant will be enhanced. The current meeting space will be fully renovated, and the lobby itself will become a much grander environment.”
The Virginia House will remain and be reopened for visitors. “Over the years, [the Virginia House] transitioned from a home, to guest rooms, to a spa, and has now been shut down for the past ten years or so. We plan to fully renovate this building while keeping the historic elegance,” The Homestead Group explained. The Virginia House will be designed to accommodate overnight guests, especially large families or groups, and will include common areas for gathering.
Unlike Anything In Utah
The owners are planning to replace the pools with “a very different and unique concept that will be unlike anything around.” Plans also include a spa to accommodate hydrotherapy and massage. The Homestead Group intends to keep the crater open to the public as well.
The group would like to continue the summer concert series for the long term. However, they admit they may need to be creative during construction. Once building is complete, our valley can expect to see a wide variety of great talent and maybe even an outdoor amphitheater.
The new food and beverage areas of the resort are still in the planning stages, but there will be two or three dining areas. The group is hoping to build a “hydroponic greenhouse” to accommodate a farm-to-table concept with plenty of fresh produce. They hope to develop strong partnerships with local farmers to “help source everything from cheese to meats locally.”
Residents of the Heber Valley will continue to play a large part in the future success of the Homestead, and their support is important to the new owners. “We have truly enjoyed getting to know the community of Midway, from the Mayor . . . to our neighbors. We feel that the community is going to be very happy with what we do with the Homestead.”
A Community Treasure
Unfortunately, many Heber Valley residents and hotel guests are still under the false impression that the Homestead buildings will be demolished. “Helping to spread the word that we are a different group of investors that is focusing on the renovation and revitalization of the Homestead is important to us. . . . We are here as a hospitality group, and our only plan is to create one of the best hospitality destinations in Utah.” The new owners are, in fact, local to Utah County, and they expressed a love for the Heber Valley and a desire for the community to “continue to think of the Homestead as a gem for generations to come.”
“As an ownership group, it is vital to us that we maintain the quaint feel of the Homestead, while also delivering a product that exceeds the expectations of our current and future guests,” the group stated. “We will have green space, . . . which [will] include a garden farm and orchard concept. We will offer a host of activities and amenities, including incredible pools and spas, great golf, farm to table-style dining, and outdoor activities that will introduce our guests to our amazing mountain ranges through hiking, snowmobiling, ATVs, and horseback riding. We will be intensely focused on wellness and providing our guests with a relaxing, yet exciting, experience unlike anywhere they have ever been.”
The renovation is expected to be in full swing by Fall 2020. The Homestead Group is in the final stages of site planning, designing, and branding, and they are encouraged by the community around them. “There are so many unique things [about the Homestead], but ultimately, we have never been involved in a hotel that has such incredible community involvement and support, which we truly appreciate.”
Maria and Simon Schneitter probably could not have imagined all those years ago what Schneitter’s Hot Pot Resort would become — a bedrock in the hearts of Heber Valley residents and the state of Utah. Its influence will extend even farther with the upcoming renovation. Heber Valley has exciting changes to look forward to, and in its true, trail-blazing fashion, the Homestead will remain a unique and magical place, unlike any other.