$1.5 billion deal rocks ski industry as Aspen skico, KSL buy Intrawest
Who owns what
Aspen Skiing Company/KSL/Intrawest
• Aspen Highlands, Colorado
• Aspen Mountain, Colorado
• Buttermilk, Colorado
• Snowmass Ski Area, Colorado
• Alpine Meadows, California
• Squaw Valley, California
• Steamboat Springs, Colorado
• Winter Park, Colorado (Operating lease)
• Mont Tremblant, Québec
• Stratton, Vermont
• Snowshoe, West Virginia
• Blue Mountain, Ontario
• Vail, Colorado
• Beaver Creek, Colorado
• Breckenridge, Colorado
• Keystone, Colorado
• Park City Mountain Resort, Utah (previously PCMR and Canyons)
• Heavenly, California
• Northstar, California (Long term lease from CNL Lifestyle Properties)
• Kirkwood, California
• Afton Alps, Minnesota
• Mount Brighton, Michigan
• Wilmont Mountain, Wisconsin
• Whistler Blackcomb British Columbia
• Australia’s Perisher Resort
• Copper Mountain, Colorado
• Eldora Mountain Resort, Colorado
• Killington, Vermont
• Pico, Vermont
• Boreal Ski Area, California
• Soda Springs Ski Area, California
• Mount Bachelor, Oregon
• Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort, Nevada
•Boyne Highlands Resort, Michigan
• Boyne Mountain Resort, Michigan
• Big Sky Resort, Montana
• Crystal Mountain, Washington
• Brighton, Utah*
• Summit-at-Snoqualmie Resort, Washington*
• Cypress Mountain, British Columbia*
• Loon Mountain, New Hampshire*
• Sunday River Resort, Maine*
• Sugarloaf, Maine*
*Operated for CNL Lifestyle Properties
• Hidden Valley, Missouri
• Snow Creek Ski Area, Missouri
• Paoli Peaks, Indiana
• Mad River Mountain, Ohio (leased)
• Boston Mills, Ohio
• Brandywine, Ohio
• Alpine Valley, Ohio
• Crotched Mt. Ski Area, New Hampshire
• Attitash, New Hampshire
• Wildcat Mountain Ski Area, New Hampshire
• Jack Frost Ski Area, Pennsylvania
• Big Boulder, Pennsylvania
• Mount Snow, Vermont
• Hunter Mountain, New York
CNL Lifestyle Properties manages
• Brighton Ski Resort - Boyne Resorts
• Crested Butte Mountain Resort - The Mueller family
• Cypress Mountain West - Boyne Resorts
• Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort - Brian Fairbank
• Loon Mountain Resort - Boyne Resorts
• Mount Sunapee Mountain Resort - The Mueller family
• Mountain High Resort - Mountain High Resort (Karl Kapuscinski)
• Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort - Vail Resorts
• Okemo Mountain Resort - The Mueller family
• Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort - Booth Creek
• Stevens Pass - Stevens Pass Mountain Resort (Karl Kapuscinski)
• Sugarloaf Mountain Resort - Boyne Resorts
• Summit-at-Snoqualmie Resort - Boyne Resorts
• Sunday River Resort - Boyne Resorts
VAIL — Monday’s blockbuster ski industry merger sent shockwaves through the Rockies, but how many of those ripples wash up on the Vail Valley remains to be seen.
The Aspen Skiing Co. teamed with KSL Capital Partners to buy Intrawest Resorts Holdings for about $1.5 billion, including $536.8 million in debt. The deal was announced early Monday. Intrawest owns and operates ski areas in Steamboat Springs, Stratton Mountain Vermont, Mont Tremblant in Quebec, and operates Winter Park.
Deal has Vail roots
The merger pits Aspen Ski Co. and KSL against Vail Resorts for the hearts, minds and money of North American skiers.
Long-time Vail resident Mike Shannon is the “S” in KSL – Kravis, Shannon and Lichliter. The “K” is for the finance firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. Financier Henry Kravis has Vail roots, as did Larry Lichliter, a former Vail Resorts executive. KSL Capital Partners CEO Eric Resnick is a full-time Vail resident.
Shannon came to Vail with former Vail ski company owner George Gillett in the 1980s and early 90s.
“When I left Vail Associates in 1992, I didn’t know whether I’d ever be back in the ski industry,” Shannon said. “Nearly 20 years later, as part of KSL Capital Partners, we invested in Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows and I was very excited to be involved again in the ski business, with it having been a formative part of both my career and personal life. With this investment in Intrawest with the Aspen Skiing Co., I look forward to further involvement in ski community.”
On the market for months
Intrawest was once the world’s largest ski area operator. Fortress, a New York-based hedge fund, had been shopping Denver-based Intrawest since the beginning of this year. Fortress was itself acquired in February by Softbank Group, a Japanese telecommunications company.
“We have always been attracted to the ski industry because of the incredibly passionate and loyal base of skiers that view the mountains as a core part of their life,” said KSL’s Resnick. “Each of the Intrawest resort communities and Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows have their own unique culture and vibrancy and we are excited to work with Aspen Skiing Co. and each of the individual resort communities to positively build upon what has made each one unique and successful for such a long time.”
Aspen Ski Co. and KSL teamed up last fall, along with Harry Frampton’s East-West Partners of Avon, to acquire the Snowmass Base Village property.
Vail Resorts’ plans
Vail Resorts has been making its own waves in the ski industry.
Last year Vail Resorts spent $1.1 billion for three-quarters of Canada’s Whistler Blackcomb ski area and another $50 million for Vermont’s Stowe.
Vail Resorts declined comment about Monday’s Aspen/KSL/Intrawest merger. However, Vail Resorts has plenty of its own business plans to look after this year.
The company expects to spend $103 million this year, upgrading its far-flung resorts.
That does not include the money the company plans to spend at Whistler Blackcomb.
• At Vail Mountain, Vail Resorts will replace Northwoods Express with a six-person chairlift. At Breckenridge, the Peak 10 Falcon Chair will be upgraded with a six person high speed chair.
• At Keystone, the four-person Montezuma chair will be replaced with a six-person chair.
• At Beaver Creek, the fixed-grip, two-person Drink of Water chair (No. 5) will be replaced with a four person high speed chair. When that’s done, all primary chairlifts on Beaver Creek will be high speed.
• Vail Resorts also plans to invest $6 million this year 2017 for Epic Discovery summer activities. The bulk of that will be spent in Breckenridge, with more modest spending at Vail and Heavenly to expand existing facilities
• At Whistler Blackcomb, Vail Resorts is spending $17 million this year, plus another $17 million to integrate Whistler Blackcomb’s marketing and operations systems.
Combined skier numbers for Aspen’s four mountains has remained steady around 1.5 million for a few years.
Vail Mountain welcomed 1.6 million skiers in 2015-16; Beaver Creek had 919,000 more.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.