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Vail Resorts acquires more
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14 days ago
http://www.realvail.com/vail-resorts-to-acquire-crested-butte-okemo-sunapee-stevens-pass/a5260 Add Okemo, Sunapee, Crested Butte and Stevens Pass to the mix. Do think they will forced to sell something in Colorado? They seem to have develop a monopoly there.
marzNC - DCSki Supporter
13 days ago

padjaski68 wrote:

http://www.realvail.com/vail-resorts-to-acquire-crested-butte-okemo-sunapee-stevens-pass/a5260 Add Okemo, Sunapee, Crested Butte and Stevens Pass to the mix. Do think they will forced to sell something in Colorado? They seem to have develop a monopoly there.

With Alterra owning a few resorts in Colorado that were Intrawest so that those are now on Ikon, plus Aspen/Snowmass as a major competitor that is on Ikon and MCP, adding CB to the Vail collection doesn’t seem like it would make that much difference.  Be interesting to watch though.

lbotta - DCSki Supporter
13 days ago

Many of us are ecstatic in the Mt Sunapee area.  First of all, the Epic Pass will be valid at three Eastern locations, two of them major destination locations.  Mt Sunapee’s expansion was recently approved by the State of New Hampshire but Three Peaks was holding the expansion in abeyance.  With their pledge to put $35M into the three new acquisitions, it is a major step forward.  Despite Sunapee being a medium sized mountain with no housing development, it is nonetheless one of the top rated places for grooming, snow quality and customer service.  As to Okemo, it has been repeatedly been voted a top family place.  And Stowe is, well… Stowe.  

It wouldn’t surprise me to see Vail acquire more Eastern resorts.

13 days ago
I agree it will be interesting to see how the 35 million is spread out. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bulk of it go to Steven’s Pass and Crested Butte since their master plans were approved. Sunapee may see their North Peak project but see a delay on the terrain expansion until they can figure out a way they can benefit from it more. Okemo may see South Mtn Village lift and trails completed. As for more acquisitions mid Atlantic has to be in their future…question becomes where? Glad I bought I the Local Epic definitely worth it. Of course I look forward to skiing Park City in March!
marzNC - DCSki Supporter
13 days ago

From the articles I can find that are from local news for Okemo and Sunapee, pretty clear that the Mueller family wasn’t looking to sell but the opportunity to sell to Vail was too good to pass up.  Apparently the negotiations started in November 2017.  The idea of adding Triple Peak mountains to the Epic Pass as a perk was announced in the spring.  Vail also gets the two golf courses owned by Triple Peaks.

This sale feels more like the purchases made by Vail in the midwest than those around Tahoe or SLC or even Stowe.  How fast things change depends more on when Tim and Diane Mueller are no longer in charge of operations then what company is the owner on paper.  That was going to happen sooner or later, although their adult children are also active members of the Triple Peaks senior management team.  As grandparents who bought Okemo in 1982, Tim and Diane must be over 60, if not 65.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2018/06/04/okemo-and-mount-sunapee-ski-areas-sold-vail-resorts/ZplSqkkLF6YZV5G6io7gKN/story.html

https://vtdigger.org/2018/06/04/vail-resorts-buys-okemo-82-million-deal/

http://www.concordmonitor.com/Vail-Buying-Sunapee-Okemo-Ski-Resorts-17955058

 

Found a little history of Triple Peaks.  Ethan Mueller opted to move his family back east in 2016 while remaining the President of CB.  His younger sister stayed at Crested Butte.

http://www.snocountry.com/news/entry/all-in-the-family-mueller-mantra-thrives-east-and-west

http://mountaintimes.info/all-in-the-family-part-ii-triple-peaks-ethan-mueller-moves-east/

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
13 days ago

lbotta wrote:

Many of us are ecstatic in the Mt Sunapee area.  First of all, the Epic Pass will be valid at three Eastern locations, two of them major destination locations.  Mt Sunapee’s expansion was recently approved by the State of New Hampshire but Three Peaks was holding the expansion in abeyance.  With their pledge to put $35M into the three new acquisitions, it is a major step forward.  Despite Sunapee being a medium sized mountain with no housing development, it is nonetheless one of the top rated places for grooming, snow quality and customer service.  As to Okemo, it has been repeatedly been voted a top family place.  And Stowe is, well… Stowe.  

It wouldn’t surprise me to see Vail acquire more Eastern resorts.

As was mentioned, the $35 million is for all four ski resorts not just the three developed and operated by Triple Peaks.

Stevens Pass had an improvement planned approved by the Forest Service in 2007 and then another in 2015.  My quick reading implies that the issue was lack of funding while CNL was the owner was related to why major approved projects were not implemented.  There was hope that the sale to OZ would change the situation.  But clearly Vail is much more likely to spend millions relatively soon at Stevens.  Vail spent $13 million at Wilmot over one summer to build lifts and renovate the main lodge.  The target market for Wilmot is Chicago.  The target market for Stevens Pass is Seattle/Tacoma, one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas on the west coast.  With W-B and Stevens, presumably that provides both a local mountain and a major destination resort within driving distance for folks who live in southern Washington State.

https://www.adventuresportsnetwork.com/transworld-business/cnl-properties-acquires-washingtons-stevens-pass-for-20-5-million/

https://liftblog.com/2017/09/15/in-a-booming-region-stevens-pass-looks-to-expand

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
13 days ago

lbotta wrote:

It wouldn’t surprise me to see Vail acquire more Eastern resorts.

What other resorts would Vail want to get for a greater share of the Philly, NYC/NJ, Boston, and CT/RI markets?  Okemo, Sunapee, Stowe pull a lot of people from those cities and the heavily populated areas that border VT.  Assuming Powdr won’t sell Killington and Peak Resorts won’t sell Mount Snow.

I’m watching what the Fairbanks do with Jiminy Peak.  Only operators there and Bromley.  The Fairbank Group owns and operates Cranmore.  Jiminy Peak is leased from OZ but is the Fairbank family home mountain.  Having spent time at Jiminy both during the ski season and at other times as a Wyndham timeshare owner (ski in/out), I know far more about Jiminy than Okemo or Sunapee.  It’s been a 4-season resort for decades.  Reminds me of Massanutten in some ways.

13 days ago

lbotta wrote:

Many of us are ecstatic in the Mt Sunapee area.  First of all, the Epic Pass will be valid at three Eastern locations, two of them major destination locations.  Mt Sunapee’s expansion was recently approved by the State of New Hampshire but Three Peaks was holding the expansion in abeyance.  With their pledge to put $35M into the three new acquisitions, it is a major step forward.  Despite Sunapee being a medium sized mountain with no housing development, it is nonetheless one of the top rated places for grooming, snow quality and customer service.  As to Okemo, it has been repeatedly been voted a top family place.  And Stowe is, well… Stowe.  

It wouldn’t surprise me to see Vail acquire more Eastern resorts.

I was wondering what you would think of this.  Many observers lament the loss of small ski operations, but for those invested in struggling small areas it is not always a bad thing when deep pockets come to the rescue.  I think Sunapee and Okemo are perfect feeder mtns for gateways to bring easterners to Vail Resorts out west.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
13 days ago

For a different perspective, check out the 6/4/2018 blog entry from MRG.  I stopped by Magic yesterday.  My guess is that the owners of Magic feel exactly the same way.  The contrast between MRG and Sugarbush is exactly the same as Magic and Stratton.

https://www.madriverglen.com/epic/

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
12 days ago

Didn’t realize how much of a struggle Crested Butte had before the Muellers came into the picture around 2003.  It was not the first place that Tim Mueller tried to develop in Colorado after getting Okemo on solid footing.  The archived article I found by Jason Blevins was originally published in the Denver Post in Oct 2003.  A local community group had tried to raise $52 million to buy out CB but Mueller got the prize, beating out a Texas real estate company.  The article ends with a quote from Mueller: “One thing we’ve learned out (East) is to work with the local community to create a vision for the resort and not jam things down people’s throats; moderate growth in a slow-growth manner.”

https://www.hotel-online.com/archive/archive-8235

” …

Skier visits at Crested Butte have plunged from a high of 550,000 in 1997-98 — the first year of the discount season-pass war among Interstate 70 resorts — to 342,000 last season. Sales-tax revenue in nearby Crested Butte has fallen 25 percent in that time. 

Edward Callaway, son of Bo and the remaining remnant of the scattered ownership team, struggled to make ends meet. He sold his family’s 261-room Marriott to Club Med in 2001. Last spring, he handed over his 242-room Sheraton hotel to creditors, five years after he spent $10 million on a renovation. 

“The last three years have been extraordinarily difficult for us, and we are glad to be putting it into Tim’s hands,” Edward Callaway said. “We are ready to move on and do other things in this family.”

…”

Denis - DCSki Supporter
12 days ago

I hope that their newly acquired operating and improvement costs will cause them to leave Kirkwood alone.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
12 days ago

Interesting quotes from a member of the Crested Butte town council in an article in Steamboat Today.

https://www.steamboattoday.com/news/vail-buys-crested-butte-mountain-resort/ - June 4, 2018

“Our town is very reactionary,” Mitchell said. “People freak out about things … Everybody has a big mouth in this town.

“The bottom line is we need cash,” Mitchell continued. “The ski area is falling apart. We haven’t had a new lift since 2005.”

12 days ago

I’ll be curious to see how this affects the SnowTime season pass.  SnowTime’s still listing reciprocity with Okemo and CB for next year’s passes.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
12 days ago

superguy wrote:

I’ll be curious to see how this affects the SnowTime season pass.  SnowTime’s still listing reciprocity with Okemo and CB for next year’s passes.

Hmm … wonder if SnowTime is on a list in a Vail office somewhere?  The missing region for the Epic pass is the mid-Atlantic.  With Snowshoe on the Ikon and owned by Alterra, perhaps the Pittsburgh, DC/Baltimore, and/or Charlotte/Raleigh/Altanta markets will get another look.  Telluride as a perk to the Epic pass covers Texas.

With the purchases in recent years, my impression is that existing pass or reciprocal discount agreements have been honored for the first season after a sale is final.  Nothing can officially change until a sale is final.

Have heard that anyone who bought an Okemo pass will be able to trade it in somehow for whatever Epic passes are offered after the sale is final.  The passholder talked to someone on the phone.  Sounds like Vail Resorts. doesn’t want to wait another year to gain Epic passholders from their investment in Triple Peaks.  I read that Vail approached Triple Peaks in November 2017 but initially they weren’t interested.

12 days ago

Funny you say that. I reached out to Vail’s Director of Strategy & Acquistions on that exact topic last year. I even mentioned a hidden gem of a resort, they may want to keep an eye on.  After going back and forth with some small talk for a bit, he did at least let it out that Vail is keeping a keen eye on the DMV, but couldn’t say more. 

marzNC wrote:

superguy wrote:

I’ll be curious to see how this affects the SnowTime season pass.  SnowTime’s still listing reciprocity with Okemo and CB for next year’s passes.

Hmm … wonder if SnowTime is on a list in a Vail office somewhere?  The missing region for the Epic pass is the mid-Atlantic.  With Snowshoe on the Ikon and owned by Alterra, perhaps the Pittsburgh, DC/Baltimore, and/or Charlotte/Raleigh/Altanta markets will get another look.  Telluride as a perk to the Epic pass covers Texas.

With the purchases in recent years, my impression is that existing pass or reciprocal discount agreements have been honored for the first season after a sale is final.  Nothing can officially change until a sale is final.

Have heard that anyone who bought an Okemo pass will be able to trade it in somehow for whatever Epic passes are offered after the sale is final.  The passholder talked to someone on the phone.  Sounds like Vail Corp. doesn’t want to wait another year to gain Epic passholders from their investment in Triple Peaks.  I read that Vail approached Triple Peaks in November 2017 but initially they weren’t interested.

 

12 days ago

marzNC wrote:

“The bottom line is we need cash,” Mitchell continued. “The ski area is falling apart. We haven’t had a new lift since 2005.”

What a travesty! 

Denis - DCSki Supporter
12 days ago

DMV?  Pretty sure it’s not dept. of motor vehicles.

12 days ago

D.C - MD - Northern VA

 

Denis wrote:

DMV?  Pretty sure it’s not dept. of motor vehicles.

 

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
11 days ago

A few comments from Crested Butte businessmen in this article in the Aspen Times about the impending Vail purchase.

https://www.aspentimes.com/news/local/vail-resorts-buys-crested-butte-sunapee-stevens-pass-in-two-transactions/

Gary Huresky is a Realtor and member of the Crested Butte/Mount Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Huresky said he’s looking forward to Vail Resorts’ presence in the area.

“There’s mixed emotions around town,” Huresky said. “But in my opinion, it’s a welcome endeavor.”

Huresky said the Crested Butte ski area has needed on-mountain improvements for some time. He added that Vail Resorts’ marketing muscle also could help bring more people to the area.

“We’ll see what happens with the transition … but we’re a ski town; let’s get folks in here with experience and capital,” he said.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
11 days ago

Based on the comments in a June 6 Powder article, sounds like the Mueller family is not going to be around after the sale to Vail is complete.  Be interesting to see what Ethan and Erica do next.  Can’t quite imagine them leaving the ski industry completely.  Ethan is around 40 and his sister Erica a few years younger.  Ethan is Pres. of CB and Erica is a VP.  Ethan was GM from 2011-14 but the current GM is Michael Kraatz, who was at one time responsible for Real Estate and Development.  

https://www.powder.com/stories/why-did-crested-butte-and-stevens-pass-sell-out-to-vail/

” …

On Monday, Erica was at her CBMR office at 5 a.m. after a restless night of sleep. She and Ethan called a meeting for all of CBMR’s managers first thing in the morning. They told them the news that quickly spread nationwide—the Muellers had sold all three of their ski areas to Vail for $82 million, with another $155 million to pay off leases owed, and they would be leaving the company… .”

 

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
11 days ago

marzNC wrote:

Be interesting to see what Ethan and Erica do next.  Can’t quite imagine them leaving the ski industry completely.  Ethan is around 40 and his sister Erica a few years younger.  Ethan is Pres. of CB and Erica is a VP.  Ethan was GM from 2011-14 but the current GM is Michael Kraatz, who was at one time responsible for Real Estate and Development.  

https://www.powder.com/stories/why-did-crested-butte-and-stevens-pass-sell-out-to-vail/

” …

On Monday, Erica was at her CBMR office at 5 a.m. after a restless night of sleep. She and Ethan called a meeting for all of CBMR’s managers first thing in the morning. They told them the news that quickly spread nationwide—the Muellers had sold all three of their ski areas to Vail for $82 million, with another $155 million to pay off leases owed, and they would be leaving the company… .”

 

Ethan Mueller decided to move his family, including three kids, to NH in 2016.  In addition to being President of Crested Butte, he was and is Sr. VP of Triple Peaks.  His mother, Diane Mueller, was Exec. VP for CB.  Ethan became part of the management team at CB in 2004 and was GM 2011-14.  His younger sister, Erica, became a VP for CB when Ethan moved east before the 2016-17 season.  Erica was a professional snowboarder before joining the family business.  She trained at Steamboat for a while.  She chased the dream of being in the winter Olympics when she was racing at World Cup level but missed the cut for 2006 and 2010.  In 2016, it was clear the family was planning to run Triple Peaks for a while.  Erica was skiing more than snowboarding at CB.  But obviously the family felt that taking advantage of the opportunity to sell to Vail made more sense in the long run, especially given the amount money needed for improvements at CB.  Ethan’s father, Tim Mueller, is President of Triple Peaks.

http://mountaintimes.info/all-in-the-family-part-ii-triple-peaks-ethan-mueller-moves-east/ - July 2016

http://gazette.com/former-pro-snowboarder-becomes-face-of-family-owned-crested-butte-mountain-resort/article/1596097 - Feb 2017

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
11 days ago

Vail Resorts included the money elements of the pending purchase of Triple Peaks and Stevens Pass in the 2018 third quarter report.  Certainly a positive report in the June 7 press release.

http://investors.vailresorts.com/news-releases/news-release-details/vail-resorts-reports-fiscal-2018-third-quarter-results-and-early

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
11 days ago

If you have an hour (kidding), here is the brand new FAQ about season passes related to the purchase of Triple Peaks and Stevens Pass.  Clearly trying to make it easier for people to move to Epic even if they already bought a season pass during early season sales.

https://www.epicpass.com/info/new-epic-resorts-faqs.aspx

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
10 days ago

marzNC wrote:

Vail Resorts included the money elements of the pending purchase of Triple Peaks and Stevens Pass in the 2018 third quarter report.  Certainly a positive report in the June 7 press release.

http://investors.vailresorts.com/news-releases/news-release-details/vail-resorts-reports-fiscal-2018-third-quarter-results-and-early

A short article about the quarterly report from the Vail Daily, which is actually published weekly.

https://www.vaildaily.com/news/vail-resorts-third-quarter-shows-positive-results-from-ski-season-pass-sales/

” …

Katz said the company’s mountain revenue increased 7.1 percent from the same period in 2017. Lift revenue grew 7.9 percent for the quarter. Total visitation grew 6.4 percent.

Much of that gain came from resorts in places other than Colorado. But, Katz said, late-season snow in Colorado brought more visitors, showing that demand for ski vacations exists among “high-end consumers.”

Acknowledging the “challenging” weather at Colorado resorts, Katz said the company’s third-quarter results show the “resilience” of the company’s business model, which includes both geographic diversity and season-pass sales. 

Information provided by the company shows that pass sales for the 2018-19 ski season are running ahead of the same period in 2017.

Through May 31, pass sales are running 12 percent ahead of 2017. Revenue is up 19 percent over the third quarter of 2017.

Responding to a question from Bank of America analyst Shaun Kelley about the prospects for further acquisitions, Katz said he believes there are still “select opportunities” in North America. But, Katz added, any future acquisitions must provide Vail Resorts with something unique for the firm. 

“We have to be even more selective,” Katz said, adding that the company is also looking for opportunities outside North America.

…”

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
10 days ago

ChmxJoe74 wrote:

Funny you say that. I reached out to Vail’s Director of Strategy & Acquistions on that exact topic last year. I even mentioned a hidden gem of a resort, they may want to keep an eye on.  After going back and forth with some small talk for a bit, he did at least let it out that Vail is keeping a keen eye on the DMV, but couldn’t say more. 

What comes to mind is Wisp and Wintergreen, both are owned by EPR at this point but operated by different companies.  Both are clearly fairly well developed 4-season resorts drawing from the DMV, plus Wisp must pull from PA during the summer.  The driving distance from the metropolitan populations seems similar to the driving needed for three Vail resorts in the midwest that draw from Chicago, Detroit, and Minn/St. Paul.

From what I know of the history for Snowtime and 7Springs/HV/Laurel, I would guess that the owners would want a lot of money to sell out to Vail Resorts.

http://www.newsadvance.com/nelson_county_times/news/a-closer-look-at-wintergreen-s-sale-to-epr-properties/article_96fc39ae-b7af-11e4-9350-8ff5494f560f.html - 2015 article about EPR and Wintergreen

10 days ago

marzNC wrote:

ChmxJoe74 wrote:

Funny you say that. I reached out to Vail’s Director of Strategy & Acquistions on that exact topic last year. I even mentioned a hidden gem of a resort, they may want to keep an eye on.  After going back and forth with some small talk for a bit, he did at least let it out that Vail is keeping a keen eye on the DMV, but couldn’t say more. 

What comes to mind is Wisp and Wintergreen, both are owned by EPR at this point but operated by different companies.  Both are clearly fairly well developed 4-season resorts drawing from the DMV, plus Wisp must pull from PA during the summer.  The driving distance from the metropolitan populations seems similar to the driving needed for three Vail resorts in the midwest that draw from Chicago, Detroit, and Minn/St. Paul.

From what I know of the history for Snowtime and 7Springs/HV/Laurel, I would guess that the owners would want a lot of money to sell out to Vail Resorts.

http://www.newsadvance.com/nelson_county_times/news/a-closer-look-at-wintergreen-s-sale-to-epr-properties/article_96fc39ae-b7af-11e4-9350-8ff5494f560f.html - 2015 article about EPR and Wintergreen

Laurel Mountain was ripe for the picking for years, as was Blue Knob.  I’m glad BK’s owners are trying to keep the original feel while improving the resort.  Still, imagine what Vail could have done with BK - so much untapped potential.  Cut some new trails, upgrade some lifts and overhaul the snowmaking, and it could be a real powerhouse.

Laurel still has a lot of potential with the same improvements, and 7S could make that happen as well.  The issue I see there is 7S doesn’t want to make it TOO competitive.  Yeah, they want it to turn a profit, but not at the expense of 7S.  While I’m glad Laurel’s back, I see 7S stifling that.  A different company like Vail would have much more interest in developing and tapping that potential.

I agree with what ChmxJoe74 said about Wisp being a potential acquisition target.  It’s still easily reachable from the Baltimore/Washington area, but also has the advantage that it could pull from Pittsburgh as well.

9 days ago

superguy wrote:

 

Laurel Mountain was ripe for the picking for years, as was Blue Knob.  I’m glad BK’s owners are trying to keep the original feel while improving the resort.  Still, imagine what Vail could have done with BK - so much untapped potential.  Cut some new trails, upgrade some lifts and overhaul the snowmaking, and it could be a real powerhouse.

Laurel still has a lot of potential with the same improvements, and 7S could make that happen as well.  The issue I see there is 7S doesn’t want to make it TOO competitive.  Yeah, they want it to turn a profit, but not at the expense of 7S.  While I’m glad Laurel’s back, I see 7S stifling that.  A different company like Vail would have much more interest in developing and tapping that potential.

I agree with what ChmxJoe74 said about Wisp being a potential acquisition target.  It’s still easily reachable from the Baltimore/Washington area, but also has the advantage that it could pull from Pittsburgh as well.

Off topic here but when you mention Laurel, a Crazie thought must follow. If I were Bob Nutting I would be lobbying PA to pony up another $6 million for infrastructure improvements to match the money PA is set to spend on Denton Hill. Remember, Laurel is a state park and the state is only awarding 10 year leases. Kinda makes little sense for private investment on land not owned with a limited time to recover capital investments. The Denton Hill rehab is now estimated to be around $18 million, $12 million is earmarked, with over $7 million in snowmaking alone, 100% coverage. PA covered the cost for only 50% snowmaking for Laurel, a fact that has trouble me since details first emerged for Laurel’s rehab.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
6 days ago

superguy wrote:

 

Laurel Mountain was ripe for the picking for years, as was Blue Knob.  I’m glad BK’s owners are trying to keep the original feel while improving the resort.  Still, imagine what Vail could have done with BK - so much untapped potential.  Cut some new trails, upgrade some lifts and overhaul the snowmaking, and it could be a real powerhouse.

Laurel still has a lot of potential with the same improvements, and 7S could make that happen as well.  The issue I see there is 7S doesn’t want to make it TOO competitive.  Yeah, they want it to turn a profit, but not at the expense of 7S.  While I’m glad Laurel’s back, I see 7S stifling that.  A different company like Vail would have much more interest in developing and tapping that potential.

I agree with what ChmxJoe74 said about Wisp being a potential acquisition target.  It’s still easily reachable from the Baltimore/Washington area, but also has the advantage that it could pull from Pittsburgh as well.

BK being in a state park adds paperwork and  complications when it comes to making improvements.  I don’t think that’s the type of effort of interest to Vail based on which ski resorts they chose to buy in the midwest.  They spent $10-13 million on each one after the purchases in 2012, with a lot happening in the first 6-12 months.

I’ll be watching what happens in New Hampshire as Vail takes over ownership of the mountains operated by Triple Peaks.  Even when CNL sold to OZ, and nothing was changing about operations, there was tension from locals.  Apparently the NH Governor and Attorney General were surprised by the announcement of the pending sale.  The Gov. got a call from Tim Mueller 15 min before the public announcement was made.  The state got out of operations at Sunapee when the lease with the Mueller’s was signed in 1998.

http://www.concordmonitor.com/New-Hampshire-residents-speak-out-about-new-ski-resort-owner-12024191 - Aug 2017

http://www.unionleader.com/business/Sunapee-sale-plan-surprised-NH-leaders-06082018 - June 2018

6 days ago

Makes sense.  It’s a shame to see some good places hobble by bureaucracy.

I wonder what it would take for the state to let go of control over those lands?  Aside from money, I’m guessing it’d probably take some legislative action to change their status from state parks.

Speaking of LM, some guy was claiming on Facebook that Nutting’s lease on Laurel is up and he may not renew it?  It was under the user Laurel Mountain Ski Resort I believe.  Anyone hear anything about that?

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
5 days ago

Wasn’t paying that much attention to Vail Resorts in the fall when this article was published in Powder.  Didn’t realize that at one point in the 1990s, the owners of Vail and Beaver Creek needed to file Chapter 11 to get finances sorted out.  Vail Resorts was created in 1996 and went public in January 1997.  The IPO price was $22.  The price was around $280 in early June 2018.

https://www.powder.com/stories/features/epic-world/

The Chapter 11 process took a while to sort out.  The job Rob Katz had at the time with a NY equity firm is how he got connected to Vail initially.  He was on the first Vail Resorts Board of Directors.  He and his wife moved the family to Colorado in 2002 when their sons were quite young.  He became CEO in 2006.

https://journaltimes.com/news/national/gillett-emerges-from-chapter/article_f6debfc4-183c-554b-bd0c-654399e25b4c.html

https://www.5280.com/2016/12/rob-katz-is-the-most-powerful-man-in-the-ski-industry/

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
5 days ago

Denis wrote:

I hope that their newly acquired operating and improvement costs will cause them to leave Kirkwood alone.

The senior management changes that impact Kirkwood in the long run is the move by Peter Sonntag to W-B.  He moved from being COO of Heavenly and the VP responsible for Tahoe in general, meaning decisions for Northstar and Kirkwood.  The new VP/COO is Mike Goar, who was VP/COO at Keystone.  Goar was GM at Canyons for a while and was there during the transition to Vail manangement.  Before that, he worked at Solitude for 27 years.

https://www.tahoedailytribune.com/news/sports/getting-goaring/

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
5 days ago

Ultimately, companies are run by people.  Found a few articles about Rob Katz that I hadn’t seen before.  I find corporate history interesting.  Perhaps because I joined a start up after grad school that went from 7 people to a publicly traded company with 17,000 people worldwide in about ten years.  I joined when there were 40 people, about six years before the first successful IPO.  Worked there for 15 years before retiring early, going through several significant transition periods.

One factor I noticed is that Katz was in the process of trying to figure out life in the first years he was associated with Vail Resorts.  Started out as a Board Director back in 1996 but didn’t become CEO until 2006.  Once he and his wife decided to move to Boulder in 2002, he had time to go skiing more.  He was consulting but didn’t have a full-time corporate job.  Their two boys were young when the family moved, not even in school yet.  Katz is a good skier.  He started skiing at Hunter at age 10.  The places he skied with school friends included Stratton, Mt. Snow, Stowe, and Sugarbush.  He was 39 when he became CEO.

https://www.vaildaily.com/news/the-soul-is-what-happens-on-the-mountain-vail-resorts-new-ceo-rob-katz/ - April 2006

https://www.vaildaily.com/news/katz-leads-vail-into-the-future/ - Jan 2013

https://chiefexecutive.net/candor-moves-mountains-vail-resorts/ - Feb 2018

A story in the 2013 article “Katz Leads Vail Into The Future” caught my eye.  George Gillett was the owner of Vail and Beaver Creek when he had to use Chapter 11 in the early 1990s to get the finances sorted out.  That’s when the company Katz was working for got involved with the ski industry.  First time he skied at Vail was during the 1990-91 season when he was in his 20s.  He stayed with the father of a colleague.  The father was one of the first Vail shareholders.

“…

Passion for the business

One of Katz’s favorite memories of his early involvement with Vail was a day in 1992 when he skied with Gillett. They were in the Back Bowls and it was a powder day, Katz remembers, and Gillett was showing Katz around.

Katz was impressed with Gillett’s skiing ability and aggressive style, and next thing he knew Gillett did a full-on face plant right in front of him.

“Here I am with the CEO at the time, and I was like, ‘Wow, do I help him? What do I do now,?” Katz said. “Meanwhile, George popped right up, smile on his face, grabbed his skis, put everything back on and went right back down.”

That memory has stayed with Katz because it reminds him that the leadership of the company has to have a real passion for the business, he said.

“It doesn’t mean that everybody has to be a great skier, I wouldn’t say that … but boy it helps when you can really get out there and experience kind of that thrill and excitement and joy that everybody has, and do it at all levels,” Katz said. “It was a great lesson to me, watching George, in terms of the enthusiasm he brought to the business. You can be official in your title and your role and you’ve got a lot of responsibility, but don’t forget to have fun.”

…”

In the 2006 article just after Rob Katz became CEO, the fact that he is a skier was noted by Bill Jensen.  Jensen was COO of Vail for a while.  He went off in 2008 to lead Intrawest.  Recently Jensen became the CEO and part-owner of Telluride, which is part of the Epic Pass for 2018-19.  Adam Aaron (mentioned below) is currently CEO of AMC Entertainment and was an an executive for a cruise line and a hotel chain before becoming CEO at Vail Resorts in 1996.  Yet it was Katz who had a vision for Vail Resorts that led him to move corporate headquarters to Denver because it was better for a public company in the long run.  That decision was announced the same day Katz became CEO and made a lot of people pretty unhappy.

“…

Jensen: “(Skiing with Katz, Vice President of Mountain Operations Brian McCartney and Ski School Director Dee Byrne) we got on Chair 5 and we were riding up 5, and Rob rode up with (Byrne). I just looked and said, for Dee as a ski school director, she got 12 minutes with Rob, not in a meeting, not in an office, not via e-mail. She got 12 minutes of face time with the CEO of the company. I enjoyed working for Adam. There was no problem there, and Adam did a lot of great things for our resorts and for us individually. But the one thing my people never got was the chance to ride a chairlift with Adam. … I know Rob loves to ski and Rob will be up, and Rob will get a perspective of those people out on the mountain in their element.”

…”

This 2018 article gives some insight into what Katz’s leadership style became after he was CEO.  In 2013, he was one of the guest speakers in Voices of Experience for a series by the Daniels College of Business, part of the Univ. of Denver.  The hour long video of his comments is available online.

https://daniels.du.edu/robert-katz-ceo-and-chairman-of-vail-resorts-inc-shares-leadership-lessons/

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
5 days ago

A little more insight into how people in Crested Butte feel about the impending sale to Vail Resorts that was announced on June 4.

http://mountaintownnews.net/2018/06/10/6081/ - June 10, 2018

” …

In Crested Butte, a community that takes its non-conformity seriously, the announcement of the sale was met with a shrug by many but, at least in a few cases, displeasure. If the community has always had to maintain a business relationship with mainstream America, it has assertively remained aloof in that relationship. Vail Resorts is the epitome of mainstream America, a public company with stock traded on Wall Street. It’s exactly what many people fled.

Others see Vail as a deep-pocketed operator with an obvious track of success. The hope in this camp of optimists is that Vail will buff a good but sometimes frayed skiing product into exactly the sort of ski area appealing to the mainstream.

…”

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 days ago

While looking around at the history of Vail Resorts, I learned where the name “KSL” came from.  The men who created KSL have strong connections to Vail.

There was a time after Apollo took control in the 1990s that there were rumors of a possible sale of everything owned by Vail Resorts in 2004, which included Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, plus Heavenly, and a few resorts that had nothing to do with snowsports.  That was two years before Adam Aron left Vail and Rob Katz took over as CEO.  The possible buyers included Mike Shannon and Henry Kravis, who were vying against a Texas company.

https://www.hotelbusiness.com/shannon-kravis-in-running-for-vail-resorts-deal/ - August 2004

KSL has become a company name known by people who only read headlines about major ski industry changes.  It was created in the early 1990s by Kravis, Shannon, and Larry Lichliter.  Shannon was Pres/CEO of Vail Associates in 1986-1992, when Gillett was the owner.  Lichliter was Exec. VP and COO at Vail Associates working with Shannon, after having been at Beaver Creek since 1976 and being promoted to Vail COO in 1984.  KSL eventually bought Squaw in 2010 and added Alpine Meadows afterwards.  KSL and the Crown family (HCC, owners of Aspen/Snowmass) combined to create Alterra in 2017.

Rob Katz has been on the Vail Board of Directors since the 1990s.  His association with Vail Resorts spans over two decades, most of his professional life.  Lichliter worked in the ski industry (Vail, KSL) for about 30 years before he retired in 2005 (died in 2011).  In contrast, Adam Aron spent 10 years as CEO of Vail before leaving in 2006 and was involved in a variety of industries before and after working at Vail Resorts.  Aron is a Harvard MBA who has held executive positions at an airline, a cruise line, a hotel company, an NBA team (still an owner), and is currently CEO of AMC Entertainment.

https://www.onthesnow.com/news/a/16481/-industry-icon-larry-lichliter-dies-led-vail-to-premier-status - Feb 2011

https://www.vaildaily.com/news/former-vail-executive-dies - Feb 2011

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 days ago

Totally off-topic, but I got a better sense of Adam Aron reading about the home opener for the 76er’s published in 2012.  He grew up in Philly.  He was only CEO for a short time, but remains an owner.  When he stepped down as Vail CEO, he sold his house at Beaver Creek and but kept a condo that cost $4.6 million that he used stock options to buy.  Not sure Aron skis, but I bet his twin sons do.  They were teenagers when Aron and his family left Colorado in 2006.

http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/sixers/20120108_For_Adam_Aron__a_dream_job_came_true.html - Jan 2012

https://www.denverpost.com/2006/01/30/vail-resorts-chief-quitting/ - Jan 2006

Aron was new as the CEO of Vail Resorts when Breckenridge and Keystone were added to Vail and Beaver Creek in 1996.  The acquisition strategy back then was a bit different than what Katz did 10-20 years later.  In addition to buying ski resorts, Vail Resorts was buying other types of properties related to leisure travel as well.

https://www.nytimes.com/1996/09/09/us/planned-merger-of-big-colorado-ski-resorts-reflects-tougher-competition.html - Sep 1996

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
3 days ago

Denis wrote:

I hope that their newly acquired operating and improvement costs will cause them to leave Kirkwood alone.

Found a few articles about who has been in charge at Kirkwood in recent years.  The current GM is Doug Pierini, who took over from Casey Bland in 2016.  Bland became VP & GM after the purchase by Vail Resorts in 2012.  He’d been at Heavenly for 10 years but not at the top.  By 2014, while some improvements had been made, the idea was to avoid changing the vibe.  Pierini has worked all over, including a stint at Plattekill.  He’s from upstate NY and his parents were part-time ski instructors.  Pierini was on the PSIA Dev Team for a while.  One of the issue he inherited was a wetlands contamination case based on actions in April 2016 related to a parking lot used for cross country skiing.  Enough cleanup was done by the fall of 2017 that the potential fines of up to $4 million were reduced to $750,000.

https://www.laketahoenews.net/2014/12/vail-has-no-desire-to-change-kirkwoods-vibe/ - Dec 2014

http://blog.breckenridge.com/2014/10/16/employee-spotlight-doug-pierini-vice-president-skier-services/ - Oct 2014

https://www.laketahoenews.net/2017/09/state-fines-kirkwood-750k-in-contamination-case/ - Sep 2017

And guess where Bland went?  He went to Alpine Meadows.  Became Sr. VP for Mountain Operations for Squaw/Alpine in 2017.  I wonder how he feels about Alterra and the departure of Andy Wirth?  But that’s another thread. ;-)

http://squawalpine.com/explore/blog/casey-blann-promoted-senior-vice-president - Oct 2017

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
3 days ago

I’ve noticed that several of the current VR COOs were instructors, a few were ski school directors at one point in their careers.  Pete Sonntag who is at W-B was a PSIA-RM Examiner.  The current President of the Mountain Division, Pat Campbell, was SSD at Grand Targhee in the 1990s.  Doug Pierini, COO at Kirkwood, was on the PSIA Dev Team for a while.  Many of the people who are promoted to COO or GM have worked as a head of skier services at some point, which generally includes the ski/board school.

Very clear that VR promotes from within whenever practical when looking for a new GM or COO.  They have an internal leadership training program.

Remember Bill Rock?  He was in charge of Snowshoe under Intrawest from 2005-10 before taking the COO job at Northstar.  He was also VP for Tahoe so had responsibilities for Heavenly and Kirkwood.  Moved to Park City in 2014, just before Canyons was joined to form the combined Park City Resort.  He was a Sr. VP and COO at that point.  Wasn’t an easy transition process.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
3 days ago

Well, one of VR’s bright stars decided to leave rather abruptly.  Taylor Ogilvie was sent to the midwest from Vail as the GM to oversee the transition at Mount Brighton in 2013.  Then he moved to Wilmot after that purchase in 2016.  He grew up in Chicago skiing Wilmot.  In 2017 he was promoted to VP of the Urban Division while staying GM of Wilmot.  The GMs of Mount Brighton and Afrton Alps reported to him.  Don’t know what happened but in March 2018, Purgatory announced that Ogilvie was the new Senior Director of Mountain Operations.

VR moved over Peter Disch from Keystone to be GM of Wilmot.  He was a senior manager and had been at Keystone for seven years.  Disch is from the midwest and grew up skiing at Afton Alps, the other Vail location in region.

 

3 days ago

marzNC wrote:

 Don’t know what happened but in March 2018, Purgatory announced that Olgilvie was the new Senior Director of Mountain Operations.

I’m from the Chicago area. I’ve skied Wilmot. If I was working in the ski industry and was based in Chicago, I might be looking to get out west as well.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
2 days ago

wgo wrote:

marzNC wrote:

 Don’t know what happened but in March 2018, Purgatory announced that Olgilvie was the new Senior Director of Mountain Operations.

I’m from the Chicago area. I’ve skied Wilmot. If I was working in the ski industry and was based in Chicago, I might be looking to get out west as well.

Yes, but Taylor Ogilvie was on his way up the corporate ladder at Vail Resorts.  To suddenly jump back to GM of a second or third tier mountain less than a year after a promotion seems a bit odd.  He joined VR right after college in Colorado.  Moved back to the midwest in 2013 when he was made GM of Mt. Brighton in 2013.  With a wife and two kids so probably not in his 20s five years ago.  I could understand more if he got the job of GM for Purgatory.  But the current GM was hired in early 2017.

As I noted earlier, Casey Bland left VR from a top job.  He went from Kirkwood to Alpine Meadows and became the VP for SquawAlpine after a few years.  That seems like a step up.  I’ll be watching both Bland and Ogilvie to see what they are doing in a few years.

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