The owners of Alyeska Resort have announced that they have sold all the assets of the resort, including 300-room Hotel Alyeska at the base of Alaska’s largest mountain.
SnoCountry, Inc. is proud to announce Snapshot television host Halley O’Brien, is in contention for an Emmy® Award in the Boston/New England NATAS Chapter.
Aspen Skiing Company and KSL Partners are purchasing four California resorts, including Mammoth Mountain.
Moving quickly after purchasing Intrawest resorts, a new Aspen-based ownership group announced it has bought Mammoth Mountain and three other resorts in the Southern California mountains.
The heretofore unnamed entity, formed by Aspen Skiing Corp. and KSL Capital Partners, said it will close this fall on a sale of a quartet of areas including Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain, Snow Summit and Bear Mountain.
The announcement comes on the heels of the group’s industry-rocking purchase of Colorado’s Steamboat and Winter Park, Quebec’s Mont Tremblant, Vermont’s Stratton, Ontario’s Blue Mountain and West Virginia’s Snowshoe. The four Aspen mountains and Squaw Valley-Alpine, a KSL property, will come under the umbrella of the new group but will continue to operate independently.
Because both purchases aren’t expected to be finalized until next fall, resort-specific season tickets will be honored for next season. So will the M.A.X. Pass, Rocky Mountain Super Pass and Mountain Collective that overlap into the partnership’s new portfolio in various ways.
“We had greater plans for Mammoth but the Great Recession and then some less favorable weather, interfered with our strategic aspirations in a finite life investment vehicle,” said Barry Sternlicht of Starwood Capital Group that owned Mammoth and the other resorts “We know Aspen and KSL have the experience, commitment, and balance sheet to help make our vision a reality.”
No upgrading plans have been announced yet, but indications are that the new entity has the capital to put into improvements at these resorts – for both winter and summer. However, official statements have noted that coordinating e-commerce technology among all the resorts will a high priority in order to expand the marketing capabilities of all the mountains.
The move by Aspen Skiing Corp. to acquire and consolidate some 15 resorts under the Aspen-KSL roof is seen by industry officials as a response to Vail Resort’s two-decade effort to acquire 14 resorts across the U.S. and Canada.
Managing Steamboat under ASC wasn’t fun, but reviving it under Intrawest worked out. (Steamboat/Facebook)
So what’s it like to have chased the dream of a job in the ski industry?
Having worked for North America’s first-three major ski conglomerates, Chris Diamond was in a unique position to share his experiences and insights. So after retiring in 2015, he penned his 44-year ski-industry memoir, he told SnoCountry.com.
SKI INC. is a fast and fascinating read which describes not only players who shaped modern ski history but also the challenges resorts face, mistakes made, and keys to success and profitability. Add observations as to the future of skiing and how Vail Resorts came to have a dominant role as the world’s largest ski company and the insights are as instructive as they are surprisingly optimistic for skiing’s future.
From ski bum to career
A part-time bartender in Killington during college, Diamond had a short but effective stint in Killington’s marketing department working under the legendary Foster T. Chandler before service in Vietnam. In 1972, he continued his ski career as assistant to Killington Resort founder Pres Smith, which enabled him to be part of the tremendous growth of the ski area and its parent company’s acquisitions.
At the helm of Mount Snow from 1977 to 1994, Diamond then became vice president for Business Development and president of the Vermont resorts for S-K-I Ltd. He was part of the team that saw S-K-I become the first successful ski industry giant after going public in 1985.
Diamond shows how companies become successful but also notes missteps, writing: “Looking back at these early experiences at Killington and Mount Snow, there is one clear regret I have relative to their status today as regional resorts versus ‘what might have been.’ While the outside perception of the ski business insists that the core financial driver is real estate, nothing could be further from the truth. Well-run resorts make money on operations. That said, real estate is very important for destination ski resorts in that it can support or enable the strategic vision.”
His explication of being at a competitive disadvantage without a modern bed base is intriguing and his observation that “in Vermont, government is the enemy” is only part of his answer as what happened.
In 1999, Diamond became president of Steamboat under the American Skiing Company, which had purchased S-K-I to become the new largest ski company. Diamond praises founder Les Otten for his many contributions to skiing while denouncing the spending spree that cost him his company.
Steamboat’s revival under new owner Intrawest provides a look at what was then North America’s largest ski conglomerate until the bottom fell out of real estate.
The most intriguing chapter explores Vail Resorts’ amazing success. While he never worked for Vail, Diamond knew the players and offers an astute analysis that includes the ramifications of the Epic Pass and his opinion that “it’s just a matter of time” before Vail enters the Northeastern market.
SKI INC. is must reading for anyone interested in snow sports and is now available from skidiamondconsulting.com and from Amazon in January.
BEWI President Bernie Weichsel, Okemo's Tim and Diane Mueller, and Brian Halligan congratulate award winner Betsy McKeever. (Martha Wilson)
The 2016 BEWI Award was presented to two top sales executives from New England mountain resorts, Betsy McKeever, Group Sales Manager at Vermont’s Okemo Mountain, and Andrew Noyes, newly appointed VP of Operations and formerly Director of Sales & Revenue at New Hampshire’s Loon Mountain.
Future just got brighter for Whistler Blackcomb with purchase by Vail. (Whistler Blackcomb)
Holders of Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass will have to wait a season before adding another 8,000 acres to their winter portfolio, after Vail Resorts announced the purchase of Whistler Blackcomb for more than $1 billion.
Okemo's snowmaking covers 98 percent of its trails. (Okemo)
The Vermont Ski Areas Association, along with alpine and Nordic members, associate members and marketing partners gathered at Sugarbush Resort for the 47th Annual Meeting. The group paid tribute to Vermont’s statewide snowmaking firepower that made all the difference for terrain coverage in the face of a challenging winter season, bringing the final skier visit tally to 3,221,187.
Rowe grew up in Connecticut and traveling to the Ludlow area often as a child he fell in love with Vermont. He is a 2014 graduate of Champlain College in Burlington where he earned his BS in Marketing Management. Throughout college Rowe worked at Stowe Mountain Resort.
“I am thrilled to be able to call Vermont home once again. I have a passion for everything that Vermont stands for and I am lucky to have found a career that allows me to promote the official sports of such a great state,” said Rowe of his new role. Adam will be responsible for snow reporting, website management, associate and Nordic memberships, trade show planning and social media support to name a few of his responsibilities.
Rowe fills the position left open by the departure of Hilary DelRoss. After three years with VSAA, DelRoss accepted a position as the Heritage and Recreation Specialist at the Vermont Department of Tourism & Marketing. Rowe will be working under the supervision of Kyle Opuszynski, VSAA’s Marketing Director.
“We are excited to welcome Adam to our Ski Vermont family and we know that he will prove to be an asset for the ski industry and the state. His enthusiasm and passion for Vermont and marketing will bring us a wealth of new ideas and energy when it comes to member relations, trade shows, marketing materials and website management,” said Opuszynski.
Photo: Adam Rowe is new marketing manager for Ski Vermont (VSAA)
Longtime Midwest Ski Areas Association (MSAA) Executive Director Chris Stoddard has stepped down after 25 years, and Amy Augustine Reents, who has been active in the Midwest ski industry for the past 25 years, has been named the new President/Executive Director.