Skiers first took notice of Everett Kircher in 1947, when the Detroit native moved to northern Michigan to build a ski resort. For just $1, he bought the land necessary to begin development of what is known today as Boyne Mountain Resort.
Boyne Resorts' portfolio currently includes Michigan's two premier mountain and golf resorts, Boyne Highlands and Boyne Mountain; and the Inn at Bay Harbor in Michigan; Big Sky Resort in Montana--founded by the late Chet Huntley in 1970; Brighton Ski Resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon near Salt Lake City, Utah; The Summit at Snoqualmie in Washington; Loon Mountain in New Hampshire; Sugarloaf and Sunday River resorts in Maine; Cypress Mountain near Vancouver, British Columbia--official freestyle skiing and snowboard venue for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games; Gatlinburg Sky Lift near the Great Smokey Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Boyne Resort had many firsts including installation of the world's first triple chairlift in 1964 at Boyne Highlands Resort, and the world's first four-person chairlift, installed in 1964 at Boyne Mountain. In 1990 Kircher installed Michigan's first high-speed detachable quad chairlift at Boyne Highlands Resort. And in 1992, Boyne Mountain unveiled America's first six-seat high-speed chairlift.
Everett Kircher testing early 1950s Snowmaker
Additional innovations include the introduction of snowmaking. Led by Everett Kircher, Boyne Resorts invented the Boyne Snowmaker, the first efficient snowmaker widely accepted as the standard for marginal temperature snowmaking. It combined small amounts of air and electricity with large quantities of water, resulting in a high efficiency snowmaking system with energy savings and minimal noise. Again led by Everett Kircher, Boyne Resorts also pioneered the design of snow grooming equipment and many techniques still in use today.
His unflagging interest in skiing technique inspired his pursuit of bringing former Olympians Stein Ericksen and Othmar Schneider from Austria to Boyne Mountain to head its ski school and teach the 'reverse shoulder" method to Midwestern skiers. Ericksen's and Schneider's lived on with Austrian-American ski schools becoming a mainstay at Boyne Mountain, Boyne Highlands and Big Sky Resort.
In addition to four-season resort properties, Boyne Resorts also operates a highly successful scenic chairlift, Gatlinburg SkyLift in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Overlooking the Smoky Mountains National Park, the SkyLift opened in 1954 and remains one of the region's most iconic attractions.
A desire to keep his team members employed between ski seasons led Kircher's quest to offer golf and attract summer visitors to Boyne Mountain-an idea given to him by a friend. Using his father's age-old Ford farm tractor, he carved out a sporty nine-hole, par-three layout near the resort's Main Lodge. For decades the Hemlock course was a favorite among Boyne Mountain guests.
After purchasing Harbor Highlands Ski Area in nearby Harbor Springs and developing its ski facilities, Kircher became serious about golf. Noted architect Robert Trent Jones, Sr., was hired to design the 18-hole Heather course that opened in 1966. By 1967, The Heather was ranked among the "Top 100 Courses in the U.S." by Golf Digest. It was the spark that ignited the golf boom in northwest Michigan, now referred to as America's Summer Golf Capital.
Five more world-class golf courses were built at Boyne Highlands and Boyne Mountain, along with golf shops, driving ranges and practice greens. They include Arthur Hills, Donald Ross Memorial and The Moor at Boyne Highlands and The Alpine and The Monument at Boyne Mountain.
Designed by veteran architect, Arthur Hills in collaboration with Kircher's son Stephen Kircher, three unique nine-hole courses also became part of northern Michigan's landscape on the shores of Lake Michigan near Petoskey. Bay Harbor Golf Club showcases the longest freshwater shoreline in the country and is a perennial top pick among numerous national golf rankings.
In 1998, Bay Harbor Golf Club hosted the Shell's Wonderful World of Golf match between Tom Lehman and Phil Mickelson. Accolades include top rankings such as #8 among the "Top 100 Courses You Can Play" by Golf Magazine and one of the "Top 100 Golf Courses for Women" by Golf for Women Magazine.
Nearby to Bay Harbor Golf Club and on the shoreline of Little Traverse Bay is the Inn at Bay Harbor, an Autograph Collection Hotel. The hotel is reminiscent of turn of the century Victorian charm and modern day elegance and opened in 1999. In 2002, Golf Digest recognized the Inn at Bay Harbor as one of the "Top Ten Coastal Resorts" in the country--ranked at #5 and alongside the nation's best seaside resorts, including Pebble Beach and Bandon Dunes. Also in 2002, the magazine named Boyne Highlands, Boyne Mountain and Inn at Bay Harbor in the "Top 75 Resorts in America".
In 2005 came the introduction of Mountain Grand Lodge and Spa, a luxury condominium-hotel set in a four-season village atmosphere at Boyne Mountain Resort. The Mountain Grand Lodge and Spa features a full service spa, specialty shops, Everett's restaurant, and modern function space.
The expansions and improvements are numerous and constant for Boyne Resorts. The family- owned company continues to build and improve four-season destinations to fit "a way of life" for active families and friends who gather there. Offering the very best in golf, ski, tennis, biking, hiking and cross-country skiing together with luxurious accommodations, fine dining, cozy restaurants and lounges and exquisite spa facilities, Boyne Resorts remains a leader in the industry.
Year after year, the company's resorts earn countless awards and recognitions. In 2000, SKI Magazine honored Everett Kircher as one of the "Top 100 Most Influential Skiers of All Time". Placing him beside Olympic athletes, inventors and filmmakers such as, World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist, Jean-Claude Killy and the popular filmmaker, Warren Miller.
Though Kircher is mostly recognized for his many ski and golf industry contributions and successful resort company, he was also a sportsmen, jet pilot and world traveler. His character is summarized in a popular quote from his autobiography, "I'd rather be known as a great fly fisherman".
Everett Kircher died January 16, 2002 at the age of 85. He will forever be known throughout the skiing world as a visionary. And his company, Boyne Resorts carries on his vision, spirit of innovation and heartfelt desire to offer playgrounds where guests of all ages can create lasting memories.
His life's work will be retold through history. Through generations of loyal skiers and golfers who visit Boyne Resorts' coast-to-coast resorts and through the many talented employees who make Boyne Resorts so successful.