With Deer Valley Resort purchase finalized, it’s KSL Capital Partners vs. Vail Resorts
The purchase of Deer Valley Resort by a newly formed resort company has been finalized, the entity announced in a news release Tuesday morning.
The entity, comprising affiliates of KSL Capital Partners, LLC and Henry Crown and Company, first announced the acquisition in August. The move reverberated throughout the ski industry and the Park City, Utah area, where Deer Valley, which was recently named by SKI Magazine as the top resort in North America, had been independently owned since its inception.
The finalized transaction places Deer Valley among a collection of 13 resorts that has a total of about 7 million skier visits and 22,000 skier acres, the news release states. The other resorts include Mammoth Mountain Ski Area and Squaw Valley Ski Resort in California and Steamboat Resort and Winter Park in Colorado. There’s also a new affiliation with Aspen Highlands, Aspen Mountain, Snowmass and Buttermilk, each of which are owned independently by Henry Crown and Company.
“Joining this impressive portfolio of resorts is a big step forward in the future of Deer Valley Resort,” said Bob Wheaton, Deer Valley’s longtime president, whose title now includes chief operating officer, in a press release. “It will enable the resort to build upon its time-honored traditions while further enhancing the overall experience. We are thrilled to be a part of the new company and are excited to begin welcoming guests to Utah this winter.”
Wheaton also said in the release that the new entity, which does not yet have a name, will focus on investing greater resources into improving operations and guest experiences and creating new opportunities for employees.
David Perry, president and chief operating officer of the resort entity, said in the release that Deer Valley is an important addition.
“We believe that this transaction not only adds tremendous value to our company but also enhances the opportunities we are able to provide to our guests, our employees, and our communities,” he said. “We are committed to maintaining the first-class experience and level of guest service for which the resort is known, and we look forward to what should be a fantastic 2017-18 ski season across our portfolio.”
Vail Resorts has 14 ski areas in its mix — ranging from gargantuan Whistler-Blackcomb to Midwest feeder Afton Alps. It snatched up ski areas at a dizzying pace earlier this decade and appeared to be an unchallenged heavyweight of the ski industry. It already had a major presence in Utah with its acquisition of Park City in September 2014. It combined the resort with the Canyons, another of its holdings.
Aspen Skiing Co. President and CEO Mike Kaplan said in a public presentation in 2015 that consolidation was a trend Skico ownership and staff was watching and prepared to act on. His comments foreshadowed the Crowns’ moves.
“The main point is, it’s more competitive than it’s ever been on all sides of our business and we need to be aware of that, focused on that and treat it with a sense of urgency,” Kaplan said.
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Winter Park, Colo.
June Mountain, Calif.
Bear Mountain, Calif.
Snow Summit, Calif.
Squaw Valley, Calif.
Alpine Meadows, Calif.
Deer Valley, Utah
Blue Mountain, Ontario
*Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk are independently owned by the Crowns.
Vail Mountain, Colo.
Beaver Creek, Colo.
Whistler Blackcomb, B.C.
Park City, Utah
Heavenly, Calif., Nev.
Afton Alps, Minn.
Mt. Brighton, Mich.
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It’s fitting that Eagle County is proceeding through its reopening phases of COVID-19 in an analogy to ski run difficulties — green to blue to black. Monday marks the transition from the green beginner phase to the blue intermediate phase.