April Fool’s: VR announces purchase of Western Hemisphere | VailDaily.com

April Fool’s: VR announces purchase of Western Hemisphere

BROOMSTICKS — On Monday, Vail Resorts, the Colorado-based ski industry giant, announced its recent purchase of the Western Hemisphere. Even though the company has been on an acquisition spree in the last five years, most recently adding Disney World and Park City Resort to its "EpicWorld" pass, Vail Resorts officials said a complete purchase of the hemisphere was just more efficient. "There were some tubing hills and ice skating ponds we hadn't yet reached, so this was a comprehensive way to sweep them all into the Vail Resorts family," said Vail Resorts Supreme Potentate Bobwood Gas. First orders of business include instituting a (half) worldwide 3 p.m. cookie time, renaming all capital cities to fit the Vail Resort brand (London will be "Riperoo-ville" and Paris will be "Gnar City") Also, as punishment for being pompous buttheads, Aspen Highlands and Snowmass will be made into a big tubing hill and ropes course. The move is a major step toward the ski company's plan for world domination, and while some critics are crying foul, others are thrilled at the improvements that new management might bring to the world. "Vail Resorts is behind some of the most successful resorts in the world, and it is succeeding where many other resorts are failing at stealing, I mean, gaining skier visits," said industry analyst Kona McPupperton. "They really know how to turn a struggling business around, and that could be a good thing for our world economy." Sources also confirm that Vail Resorts is in talks with Bernie Madoff for the rest of the world. From his jail cell, Madoff said that he'd only sign off on the dead on conditions that he'd get first tracks every day, a lifetime EpicWorld pass and "one of those cool 'Mikaela Shiffrin' beanies." Gas did go on record as saying that the company has purchased the moon. Yes, that moon. "We're working on getting a tubing hill up there as a prototype before we build any lifts," said Gas. "The gravity situation is a little tough, but our engineers are working on it. You could catch some epic air up there — I mean, there's no air, but you know what I mean."

Vail Resorts purchases Australia’s Perisher

BROOMFIELD — Vail Resorts announced Monday that it has agreed to acquire Perisher Ski Resort in New South Wales, Australia, for total cash consideration of AU$176.6 million (approximately US$136 million), subject to certain adjustments. Perisher is the largest and most visited ski resort in Australia and is well-positioned with access to the country's largest cities, including Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra and Brisbane. Perisher is also the largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere. The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015 following the satisfaction of certain conditions, including approval by the New South Wales Government. The acquisition includes the resort areas known as Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Blue Cow and Guthega, along with the ski school, lodging, food and beverage, retail, rental and transportation operations, which together comprise Perisher. "The acquisition of our first international mountain resort is a significant milestone for our company. We're thrilled to welcome the guests and employees of Perisher, Australia's largest and most iconic resort, into the Vail Resorts family and deepen ties with one of our most important international markets," said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts. "This acquisition is part of Vail Resorts' continued strategy to drive season pass sales and build loyalty with guests from around the world. Australia is one of the most important international markets for ski resorts across the Northern Hemisphere, generating an estimated more than 1 million skier visits annually to resorts in North America, Japan and Europe." Vail Resorts also announced that as of Monday, Perisher has re-opened season pass sales for its upcoming ski season, which is set to open on June 6. Perisher's popular Freedom Pass is on sale for AU$749 and will include benefits substantially similar to Vail Resorts' Epic Local Pass, with unlimited skiing and riding at Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Park City and Canyons in Utah; and Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada. It also will include 10 days of skiing and riding at Vail and Beaver Creek. All Epic Pass purchasers will receive unlimited and unrestricted skiing at Perisher.

Chasing winter from Vail to Australia

VAIL, Colorado ” Nigel Mills’ last summer was 1983. It was perhaps a bit too summery, he remembers. “I like to surf, but 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) is hot,” he said. Since then it’s been nothing but winter for Mills. The native Australian spends November through April at Vail, where he is a ski instructor. When spring comes around here, he, his wife and his three kids head to Australia, where Mills runs a ski school. Though Mills spends the majority of the year on skis ” about 230 days ” he said he doesn’t tire of skiing. “Not really,” he said. “I can honesty say I don’t because I enjoy the work I do.” You might think the summers in Eagle County are short, but some globe-hopping locals don’t see a bit of summer. They follow winter each year from hemisphere to hemisphere. Some do it because they love to teach skiing. Others just like the atmosphere of a ski resort. Others like the travel. Michele Fuller, a ski instructor at Beaver Creek, last saw summer in 1986. She spends Colorado’s offseason in New Zealand, where she teaches skiing at a resort called Coronet Peak. Even though she doesn’t see true summer, the milder winters in New Zealand are a welcomed change of pace, she said. “I really like what I do,” she said. “I enjoy the atmosphere and the outdoors. The nice thing about winter in New Zealand is it’s not like the winter in Colorado. You can get on your mountain bike or go golfing or get in the garden. … It’s not like you’re surrounded by snow.” She hops the globe because she just loves to teach skiing, she said. “If I stop this, I might realize what I’m missing,” said Fuller, who has permanent residency status in New Zealand in addition to her American citizenship. “I pinch myself everyday.” Marian Little, a bus driver for the town of Vail, splits her time between Vail and her native New Zealand. But for Little, following winter isn’t about the skiing. “The weird thing is I don’t ski or snowboard,” Little said. “I just really enjoy it here.” This is her seventh season in Vail. Perhaps the upside of double winters is you get double springs, too. “You get to have a little bit of spring, depending on where you are,” she said. Dennis Hammond, another town of Vail bus driver, spends winters in Vail and winters at Mount Buller, a ski resort in Australia. But it’s not like Hammond hates summer. “I absolutely love summer,” he said. What he likes about shuttling from hemisphere to hemisphere is being in ski resorts, he said. “It’s taken me a long time to figure out, but what I really like is working with tourists,” he said. “Working in a holiday atmosphere.” Hammond skis about 14-15 days at Vail, but doesn’t really ski in Australia, he said. “I’m not a snow junkie,” he said. Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.

Red Sky key in landing Ritz-Carlton

Despite far exceeding its projected $100 million pricetag and well before its first members ever teed off, Vail Resorts CEO Adam Aron declared the new Red Sky Golf Club south of Wolcott a hole-in-one.”In once sense, it’s already been a success,” Aron said Saturday, June 29, during opening ceremonies. “The beautiful new Ritz-Carlton (hotel and club), Bachelor Gulch, that opens in November would not have been able to come to the Vail Valley had there not been fabulous golf for Ritz-Carlton guests.”The new Tom Fazio-designed 18-hole course and a Greg Norman 18-hole course opening next summer will have guaranteed tee times for the 237-room Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, a key factor in landing the upscale, ski-in, ski-out resort property between Beaver Creek and Arrowhead.The 7,113-yard, par-72 Fazio course began construction in 1998, although negotiations between Vail Resorts and local rancher George Jouflas first started in 1994.Also open to members is a sprawling new lodge-style clubhouse, which will convert to the guest clubhouse when the Norman course and its members clubhouse opens next summer.The Fazio course has an 800-foot elevation change as it winds its way through Red Sky’s nearly 800 acres of sage, junipers, aspens and pines. There will ultimately be only 87 residences along the two courses. A total of 425 memberships will be sold for $175,000 apiece plus annual dues.Aron named four honorary members at the ceremony: course architect Fazio, Jouflas, Jim Thompson, president and CEO of Vail Resorts Development Company, and former President Gerald Ford, who was on hand for the opening.”When (my wife Betty and I) first came here, there was one 9-hole golf course the Vail Municipal Golf Course,” Ford told the gathered members. “They added another nine, then we went to Eagle-Vail, then Singletree, Country Club of the Rockies, and I think now, with this club, we have 13 golf courses in the Vail Valley, and we are the golf course champion of the whole western Rocky Mountain area.”

A most amazing time in Australia for Vail Valley student

VAIL, Colorado –This past summer I, Kristi Waring, had the privilege of representing Vail in the annual Vail Valley Exchange Program to Vail’s sister city, Mansfield, Victoria, Australia. The Vail Town Council selects a high school junior as an ambassador from the area each year. This meant that I traveled to Australia for the Southern Hemisphere winter for four weeks, and Australian Zoe Brinkley came and stayed with my family for the Northern Hemisphere winter for six weeks. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I had the most amazing time in Australia. It was truly life changing and a trip to remember. From hand-feeding kangaroos, skiing at Vail’s sister resort, Mt. Buller, and even professional Australian Football League games, it was all a great time. Zoe and I became best friends. We have kept in contact via Facebook and e-mail almost everyday since I returned. I know that we will be lifelong friends, even from across the world. Zoe was not the only lifelong friend I made during my stay though. She happily introduced me to all of her friends from school and skiing. Every single one of them made me feel so welcome. The Australian community as a whole is inviting, warm, and friendly. Temporarily moving in with the Brinkleys was the easiest part of my trip. They made me feel right at home from day one. Zoe’s mother, Kathy, and father, Ray, felt like my second parents, and her two brothers, Liam and Hamish, feel as much like brothers to me as my own brother. They included me in family outings, fun family traditions and family movie nights. We had some good laughs and lively discussions over different names and pronunciations for things. Ray had a really hard time believing that I would ever eat a raw bell pepper or as the Aussies call, them capsicums. I also willingly tried and enjoyed vegemite. During my stay in Mansfield, I was able to shred the slopes of Mt. Buller while Zoe was at school. Being a competitive mogul skier for the freestyle team here in the valley, I met right up with the freestyle team at Buller. I got to meet even more people, train a little bit, and rip the mountain with other kids my age. Skiing kept me very busy during the week and on the weekends was my down time to hang out with Zoe and friends. Every Saturday morning we would hop in the car with some Killer Python gummies, a meat pie, Honey Soy Chicken chips, Cordial to drink and head to the local Mansfield “footy” game. I’m not sure how to explain footy other than a mix between rugby and American football. It took me a few Saturdays to get all the rules down. The Aussies are passionate about their footy. Traveling to “Aus” was easily the best trip of my life. I am hoping to go back next summer, their winter, to visit Zoe and company again. The exchange was such a life changing opportunity. It is offered to local juniors in high school around the valley. If you are a junior this year, don’t miss the opportunity to apply for this program, and have a chance to travel across the world and make friends for life. It was the time of my life, I made a considerable amount of new friends, I learned a lot, and I was 100 percent honored to represent the Vail Valley. Want to see your byline on this page? Write about something you think is newsworthy and send it to Community Editor Lauren Glendenning at lglendenning@vaildaily.com, or call her at 748-2983 for details.

Companies increase earnings by decreasing energy consumption

================================ This is the fifth part of a five-part series from discussions at this year's Vail Global Energy Forum. The series Stories about topics discussed at this year's Vail Global Energy Forum. Tuesday: Facts, not Furor. Discussions about our energy future should shed light, not shrieking. Wednesday: Fracking is safe, scientists say. Science, not inflamed rhetoric, should be the basis for discussions, geophysicist says. Thursday: Billions in business. Telling energy companies to ignore trillions of dollars is a "false choice," former DOE official says. Friday: China's carbon increase offsets U.S. cuts. The U.S. is slashing emissions, but it may not be enough with China's pollution levels. Today: Energy efficiency pays. Cutting energy costs increases earnings for companies. Previous days' stories can be seen at http://www.vaildaily.com. ================================ The average American's energy consumption hasn't increased in years, said a Stanford University energy efficiency expert. "In principle, we have the technological potential to keep total energy use in the United States from growing over the next several decades," said Jim Sweeney with Stanford University's Precourt Energy Efficiency Center. Do well, do good Energy is a $6 trillion annual industry said Cathy Zoi, Chief Strategy Officer with C3 Energy, a Silicon Valley firm. You can profit in all sorts of ways, including efficiency, she said. Take the local company in our company town, Vail Resorts. Mark Gasta is Chief People Officer for Vail Resorts. "We intend for Vail Resorts to do well and to do good," Gasta said. Businesses are a system and none of the elements in the system are mutually exclusive, he said. If they're considering the environmental system, but not paying attention to its human aspects, the system becomes imbalanced. "The outdoors is our product and we have a deep passion for protecting it," Gasta said. On the human end of the equation, Vail Resorts has cut 10 percent from its energy consumption, and aims to cut another 10 percent by 2020. So far this year, Vail Resorts has saved 2.2 million kilowatt hours and $200,000, Gasta said, adding that the company will save another $160,000 in electricity consumption this year. Some of that money is passed along to investors, some is reinvested in employees, and some in more energy efficiency measures, Gasta said. And government plays a role, said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. Hickenlooper praised Dr. Bryan Wilson, who runs Colorado State University's Engines and Energy Laboratory. They're working on things like energy efficiency and capturing fugitive methane from natural gas wells to use for fuel. Colorado State University is working with Halliburton to protect water in every well they drill, Hickenlooper said. Electric lemmings? Energy consumption in the United States and Europe haven't significantly increased in almost a decade, Sweeney said. The developing world, especially China and India, are quite another matter. China's insatiable hunger for more energy has the country opening a new coal-fired power plant almost every two weeks. The Chinese have enormous natural gas reserves and switching from coal would go a long way toward reversing their growing pollution problem, Sweeney said. Other countries are watching how U.S. energy companies harvest shale gas and oil reserves, and will likely either buy the technology or hire U.S. based industries. "Social norms matter. Lemmings aren't always the only creatures following each other over a cliff," Sweeney said. Natural gas is the world's present, but renewable energy is the long-term future, said Jim Brown is president of Hallilburton's Western Hemisphere division. Brown likes renewable energy and said Halliburton is investing in it. "We need to continue to invest in that ultimate energy pill. This world will be around for a long, long time and natural gas is a finite resource," Brown said. "We don't look at ourselves at oil and gas people, we're energy providers. Some of the money goes back into those other sources." Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

Bush faces protests, works to smooth relations in Latin America

MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina – President Bush faced ruffled relations in the Western Hemisphere here Thursday with protesters prepared for the U.S. leader in Argentina and Venezuela’s leftist leader waiting to bait him.Bush, who arrived Thursday evening for a two-day summit, is trying to reverse the image that many Latin Americans have of the United States: a powerhouse preoccupied with Iraq and terrorism and little interested in the social and political troubles in the region.Trade and creating jobs to combat poverty and strengthening democratic governments in Latin America are at the center of the fourth Summit of the Americas. It was getting under way Friday in this coastal resort, attended by Bush and leaders and top officials from 33 other democratically elected leaders in the Western Hemisphere.For Bush, who has later stops in Brazil and Panama, discussions with Latin American leaders might ease tensions. The president might also be able to push modest initiatives as evidence of American goodwill.”This is going to be a tough crowd, a skeptical crowd,” said Michael Shifter, a Latin American expert at the Inter-American Dialogue research group in Washington. “With a few exceptions, he’s not going to get a lot of warm abrazos (hugs) from the leaders.”Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, an outspoken critic of Bush and friend of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, has said he would use the meeting as a stage to denounce the U.S. as a “capitalist, imperialist model” of democracy that exploits the economies of developing nations.Chavez, top Cuban officials and demonstrators at a separate “People’s Summit” here, claim Bush wants to open up Latin America to more corporations that will end up enslaving already poor workers.Bush and Chavez were likely to meet on Friday, shortly after Chavez’s speech to a demonstration of mostly anti-Bush protesters. Chavez has joked about whether Bush is afraid of him and said he might sneak up and scare Bush at the summit.Bush’s trip comes as he faces the lowest job approval ratings of his presidency back home:-U.S. military deaths in the war in Iraq, an unpopular conflict in Latin America, have surpassed 2,000.-Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff was charged with perjury and obstruction charges.-Bush had to replace a Supreme Court nominee who withdrew after mounting criticism from members of the president’s own party.”This is an important opportunity to reaffirm U.S. commitment to the Americas, especially in the face of the widespread impression that the Bush administration’s interest in and attention to the region has been on the foreign affairs back burner since 9-11,” said Peter DeShazo, former deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemispheric affairs.Bush wants to revive talks over the creation of a Free Trade Area of the Americas – stretching from Alaska to Argentina – that would overtake the European Union as the world’s largest trade zone.Bush acknowledged that the U.S.-led idea for a free-trade area reaching into every country in the Western Hemisphere, except Cuba, had stalled. A high-ranking Brazilian official, who said he was not authorized to give his name, told The Associated Press on Thursday that 28 of the 34 countries participating in the summit had agreed talks should begin as early as April.European and U.S. farm subsidies and tariffs, and the extent to which countries will cut them, have become the focus of talks aimed at forging a deal before December’s meeting of the World Trade Organization’s 148 countries in Hong Kong.Thomas Shannon, assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Argentina that Bush believes the best way to get the regional talks moving is to have a successful meeting in Hong Kong.”That will kind of remove the larger obstacle in the world trading system that Brazil and Argentina and others have been kind of using as a reason not to move forward more quickly” on the Americas pact, he said.At the summit site, thousands of demonstrators began assembling to criticize Bush’s trade push in the region where an estimated 220 million people are living in poverty.As hundreds of protesters began pouring into the resort for Friday’s protests, police with riot shields redoubled security. Navy ships patrolled offshore as helicopters clattered over the luxury hotel where leaders will meet.Vail, Colorado

Aspen’s historic Hotel Jerome is set for auction

ASPEN, Colorado – An unpaid loan balance of $36.3 million has put the historic Hotel Jerome on the auction block. The 92-bedroom Main Street hotel, built in 1889, is scheduled go to a foreclosure auction sale on Jan. 27, Deputy Treasurer Desiree Wagner said Monday. The Pitkin County Treasurer’s Office opened up foreclosure proceedings for the 92-bedroom Main Street property Thursday, when it filed a “notice of election and demand for sale.” The notice says that LCP-Elysian Aspen Owner LLC has an unpaid balance of $36,292,781 to Jerome Property LLC, which holds the deed of trust on the property. Jerome Property LLC was formed Aug. 25 in Delaware, according to public records. “The covenants of said deed of trust have been violated due to the failure to make the final payment due at the maturity date,” the notice said. Records at the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s Office show that Jerome Properties LLC bought the deed of trust from Aurora Bank, an affiliate of Lehman Brothers Holding Inc., on Aug. 31. The original note holder was Morgan Stanley Mortgage Capital Inc., data shows. The original deed of trust, dated May 24, 2007, was for $48 million, the notice says. That same day Elysian Worldwide LLC and Lodging Capital Partners LLC, both of Chicago, bought the 113,282-square-foot hotel for $52.2 million from Oklahoma Publishing, which paid $33.7 million for the property in June 2005. Currently, the Hotel Jerome is run by RockResorts, a luxury hotel company headquartered in Broomfield and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vail Resorts. Inc. “Hotel Jerome has achieved truly legendary status, both in Aspen and around the world,” said David Pisor, founding principal of Elysian Worldwide, said in a statement at the time. “We look forward to working with RockResorts and the city of Aspen as we revive the hotel’s historic grandeur.” Pisor did not return a telephone message left at his Chicago office yesterday. Hotel Jerome General Manager Brendan Carlin also did not return a phone call. Deputy Treasurer Desiree Wagner said the hotel owners can take steps to stave off foreclosure by filing an intent to cure. No such notice had been filed as of Monday, she said.

How does Vail Resorts stock look?

VAIL – How does Vail Resorts’ stock stack up to other stocks you can invest in?One investment advisor, Richard Loth of Mentor Investing in Minturn, said the stock is fetching a premium price by investment standards. It falls closer to a speculative growth stock than a steady, reliable stock that pays dividends.Growth stocks present investors with greater potential gains and correspondingly greater risk.Priced at $28.15 a share the stock has a price/earnings ratio – the price people pay for the stock compared to what it is earning – of 37.18. “It’s overvalued,” he said. “The average P/E ratio for the Standard and Poor’s 500 is 20. The lower the better.”One of the hottest stocks in the market – Google – is selling for $290 a share and carries a price/earnings ration of 113.By reversing the price/earnings ratio for Vail Resorts, Loth calculated it returns 2.08 percent. An investor could earn a greater return investing money in a no-risk certificate of deposit, he said.Staff Writer Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 450, or cthompson@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado

Resort company to focus on mountains

VAIL — Doing one thing very well is hard. Doing multiple things very well is even harder. That's why Vail Resorts' approach to real estate development is changing. Real estate was a big part of the business plan even when Vail Resorts was Vail Associates and the company ran just one big ski resort. Over the years, the company has developed luxury projects across its growing corporate map, from Tahoe to Breckenridge and every place in between. But at a meeting on Monday of the Vail Homeowners Association, company president Rob Katz told the audience that Vail Resorts is trying a new approach as its resort holdings grow. "We now own 11 ski resorts, and we hope to own more," Katz said. "The challenge has been real estate development. It would be hard for us to be the primary developer in all those markets." Katz noted that real estate development is a very expensive business. "We'd rather spend our money on the mountains," he said. "That's where our money, focus and attention should go." COLLABORATIVE EFFORT With that renewed focus on the mountains, Katz said Vail Resorts in the future will seek out third-party developers for projects. "We're going to work with communities to find the best developers and put together what works best for all of us," Katz said, adding that in the past, perhaps "90 percent" of all the company's conflicts with communities stems from disputes over development projects. "Now we can sit on the same side as communities," Katz said, adding that if communities need better parking, or transit, or other improvements, then the resort company can work with a developer to create good solutions. Kristin Kenney Williams, who has worked for Vail Resorts in Vail on the Ever Vail project, said the idea is to create a "collaboration" between communities, the company and developers. "We're getting creative in how they do that." Harry Frampton is one of the partners in East West Partners, a development company that does a lot of work in resort areas. He's also one of the partners in Slifer Smith & Frampton, the valley's biggest real estate company. Frampton said the idea Katz talked about in Vail isn't exactly new. But, he added, the idea is welcome, for both shareholders — Frampton is one — and communities. 'COMPLEX BUSINESSES' "When you look at the real estate business and the skiing and hospitality business, they're both hard, complex businesses," Frampton said. "It's hard to be great at two businesses." Since Vail Resorts' core business is skiing and resorts, that's where the company should focus its efforts. "That's good for communities, that the company will re-invest in meaningful ways," Frampton said. "And they'll get a better return on their money has a resort/hospitality operator. This will take what they do and improve on it." And, while Katz said Vail Resorts will continue to be intimately involved in any future projects, Frampton said not having the company's name on a development could make projects slightly less expensive. "Vail Resorts is so visible," he said. "When they try to do real estate, communities may impose more (requirements) than they would on a smaller company." Sometimes, Frampton said, those requirements can make a project unfeasible to build. While Katz touted the company's new direction on development, Frampton said he doesn't expect any large projects to start any time soon. "The economics have to make sense," Frampton said. "In Vail, (building Ever Vail) will require prices to go up a lot before building anything." Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com and @scottnmiller.