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Vail buys Okemo, Sunapee, Crested Butte & Stevens Pass

MilkyWookiee

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#61
I'd like to see them do something about the lift situation at Jackson Gore. The quantum 4 is always the worst lift line on the mountain, and an extra lift over there would be nice. Also the fact that the bubbles can't run in the wind bothers me. Obviously these are huge investments but I think they'd go a long way
 

Tvan

Angel Diva
#62
Jackson Gore Inn needs some work, too. I stayed there last year for the Women’s Alpine Adventure week, and my room was surprisingly shabby, considering the price I was paying.
 

MilkyWookiee

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#63
Jackson Gore Inn needs some work, too. I stayed there last year for the Women’s Alpine Adventure week, and my room was surprisingly shabby, considering the price I was paying.
I do get jealous of you ladies who are able to do the 5 day! My boss would not appreciate it. But i have stayed at the inn a couple of times and I felt like the main building especially was catering to families with young kids. For example, the bar in the lobby area would be so nice if not for kids leaving smores droppings everywhere. The family friendly atmosphere is one of my favorite aspects of okemo, but there has to be a better balance, especially at that price point. I also found the rooms very small for 4 people and their gear, and the beds were not comfortable. I recall being in a room with a Murphy bed and a pullout couch I think. I would choose the pointe or timber inn over staying at Gore any day
 

Tvan

Angel Diva
#64
@MilkyWookiee - I completely agree with you about the bar area at Jackson Gore. I wanted a quiet place to sit with a glass of wine and a book, and ended up in a cacophony of noisy kids at 10 pm. My room was no refuge from it, either. There was a large family next door, who made a huge amount of noise at all hours of the day and left ski equipment leaning against my door. I let them know that my room was in fact occupied, which put an end to the ski pole fiasco, but not the noise. I’ll look at another accommodation for my next trip there.
 

MilkyWookiee

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#65
@MilkyWookiee - I completely agree with you about the bar area at Jackson Gore. I wanted a quiet place to sit with a glass of wine and a book
Definitely look into the pointe. They are a hotel and a spa so it's a much quieter atmosphere, and their lobby is a great place to curl up with a good book. I usually just pick up a bottle of wine and a box of cheezits from Shaw's and I'm all set!
 

SallyCat

Moderator
Staff member
#66
I skied at Sunapee when I had a MAX pass and enjoyed it; it has a more low-key vibe than Okemo, though it can get pretty crowded on weekends. As opposed to Ludlow there's not much around Sunapee if you're visiting from out of town.

If you are visiting and want to check out both mountains, there are nice B&Bs in Windsor, VT as well as resort-style lodging in Brownsville. That would put you an easy 30 minutes from Okemo and about 45 from Sunapee.

I'm willing to bet there are quite a few AirBnB rentals available at the condos around Mt. Ascutney as well. The Holiday Inn Vacations Resort in Brownsville is right at the base of Mt. Ascutney, which has a very cool rope tow and this year will have a T-bar (all free and open to the public) and tubing lanes (not sure if those will be free). They have a groomer but not snowmaking, so it's weather-dependent. But if you have kids just learning to ski, it could be a fun, unique option.

You can also hike or skin up to the top of Mt. Ascutney and access all of the old resort's trails. The resort's fitness center rents snowshoes, and there's also a huge MTB trail system that's open for fat-biking in the winter. I think that bike rentals are in the works via Paradise Sports in Windsor, which I believe will have an outpost at the new Ascutney base lodge (yes, someone donated a building frame, which volunteers are now turning into a gorgeous lodge with stone floors and bead-board ceilings!).

(Can you tell I love my new home, which is right on the mountain? :becky:)

Information on all of the activities can be found here at the Ascutney Outdoors web site. Of course, feel free to PM me any time about conditions and details; I work with the volunteer organization and am an enthusiastic ambassador.
 
#68
Learned some stuff from an article in 2013 in the Vail Daily about Rob Katz views about the future of Vail Resorts at the time. The last topic is "Remaining out front." Note that the Epic Pass debuted in 2008, EpicMix started up in 2010, and the purchase of W-B happened in 2016. But W-B was not added to Epic until 2017-18 because of the efforts needed to integrate computer systems.

Remaining out front

When the whole world was going crazy for Facebook and Twitter, Vail Resorts figured out a way to tailor social media to the mountain experience.

Vail Resorts’ move to include radio frequency identification technology in its passes set the company on the path toward its wildly popular Epic Mix program. The company realized that technology could open doors into information sharing like never seen before at a ski resort – a realization that came mostly after company executives, including Katz, began using Twitter and Facebook. That’s what spawned the idea to merge social media and RF technology together, Katz said.

“We want to be number 1. Well, to be number 1, you’ve got to be out front and you have to do things other people aren’t doing,” Katz said. “But that means, that comes along with change and I think what I have felt certainly in my tenure, is a willingness to push. Push for new things , push in new directions. And, you know, everyone doesn’t always agree with them when I first talk about them, when the company first talks about them, and not everything we do will always work, but if you’re not trying anything, you’re not going to lead.”

Katz has no plans to stop leading Vail Resorts into the future. He said he’d like to see the company double in size in the next 10 years. He wants the pass program to also grow, as well as add more technology upgrades such as energy efficiency in snowmaking.

“We’re not that far away from some technological improvements where it’ll cost a fraction of the energy – cost both in terms of using the resource and also in terms of the dollars – where snowmaking can actually be a much more constant benefit,” he said.

And while growth in on his mind, Katz reiterates that it will always be logical and deliberate.

“We want to grow into things where we feel we can add value, not just monetary value, but guest value – and I think, so far, I think we’re doing that,” Katz said. “And the areas where we don’t (add value), I think you’ll see us back off. If we don’t think we can create a new paradigm of some sort, then we won’t do it.”
 
#69
Clearly mixed feelings in the town of Crested Butte about the upcoming transition to being part of Vail Resorts. My impression is that there were similar rumblings when the Muellers took over. The difference back then was that everyone knew the owner who was selling CB was in deep financial trouble and had been for a few years.

Vail Resorts Arrives in Crested Butte - 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.
. . .
 
#70
There is no question that Rob Katz, CEO of Vail Resorts since 2006, has changed the ski industry in a significant way. Most articles talk about the creation of the Epic pass and acquisitions of ski resorts outside Colorado. But it's interesting to learn how he functions as a CEO and his emphasis the importance of everyone thinking about more than their own area or resort. Katz spent several years exploring himself while not working full-time after moving to Boulder with his young family in 2002. The fact that many of the COOs currently running individual Vail resorts moved up within the company is not a fluke. The two women on the Vail Resorts Executive Committee are quoted in the Feb 2018 article.

I wonder if Ethan and/or Erica Mueller will be asked to work for Vail Resorts.

Katz leads Vail into the future - Jan 2013 in Vail Daily

Daniels College of Business, Univ. of Denver - April 2013
Robert Katz, CEO and Chairman of Vail Resorts, Inc., Shares Leadership Lessons

Candor Moves Mountains at Vail Resorts - Feb 2018
" . . .
To enhance the skier experience, Vail invested in lots of shiny, new toys—faster chairlifts, fancier restaurants, interactive apps so skiers could track their routes, and more luxurious hotels. When asked which investment had the greatest impact on the company’s health, Katz didn’t hesitate. “The single biggest driver is the investment we made in culture, team dynamics, and leadership development.”"
 

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
#71
Interesting update from Unofficial Networks regarding Vail's purchase of Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire.:

According to the Seattle Times, Attorney General Gordon MacDonald wrote to Republican Gov. Chris Sununu on Friday informing the governor that Vail Resort’s purchase of Mount Sunapee ski area can not proceed without the approval of the state Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

On June 4th, Vail Resorts announced that it would be acquiring the operating rights to three ski areas owned by the Mueller family: Sunapee, Okemo in Vermont and Crested Butte in Colorado. However, it is now clear that the deal to operate Sunapee must first be approved by the state Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

A public information session is set for Tuesday on a proposed takeover of the Mount Sunapee ski area by Vail Resorts
 
#72
Interesting update from Unofficial Networks regarding Vail's purchase of Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire.:

According to the Seattle Times, Attorney General Gordon MacDonald wrote to Republican Gov. Chris Sununu on Friday informing the governor that Vail Resort’s purchase of Mount Sunapee ski area can not proceed without the approval of the state Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

On June 4th, Vail Resorts announced that it would be acquiring the operating rights to three ski areas owned by the Mueller family: Sunapee, Okemo in Vermont and Crested Butte in Colorado. However, it is now clear that the deal to operate Sunapee must first be approved by the state Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

A public information session is set for Tuesday on a proposed takeover of the Mount Sunapee ski area by Vail Resorts
I read a clip somewhere that says that Mt. Sunapee is on land leased from the State of New Hampshire. So that makes sense to me! It is interesting that they are holding a public information session. That seems like more of a Vermont-style thing, but I don't recall anything like that happening when Vail bought Stowe (which is operated on land leased from the state). I heard that they had to get an Act 250 permit to pave the new parking lots, but I'm guessing those were pretty uncontroversial and welcome additions.
 
#73
As I understand it, when CNL sold a bunch of ski resorts to OZ (ERP), which included Sunapee, some NH government officials weren't too happy that they didn't seem to have any say in the sale. But since the operator was still Triple Peaks, nothing was really changing. The sale of Triple Peaks to Vail Resorts also includes money so that Triple Peaks can buy the three ski resorts from OZ. So the actual ownership of whatever isn't owned by the state at Sunapee is changing. Presumably that includes the lifts and the base buildings.

That sort of complication was not part of the acquisition of Stowe.

Boyne recently bought Sunday River and a few other ski resorts that were operated under a lease arrangement with CNL.
 
#74
There are questions about the pending sale of Stevens Pass to Vail Resorts about what happens to the current operator. Karl Kapuscinski owns and operates Mountain High in CA, having bought it from Oz Real Estate in 2017. He took control of the company operating Mountain High under the CNL lease in 2010. The news about changes in Mountain High ownership don't make headlines across the U.S. like a purchase of multiple resorts by Vail Resorts or Boyne Resorts.

https://www.dailybulletin.com/2017/...resort-will-keep-its-current-management-team/

https://www.adventuresportsnetwork....ort-ceo-gains-full-control-as-majority-owner/
 

elemmac

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#75
I read a clip somewhere that says that Mt. Sunapee is on land leased from the State of New Hampshire. So that makes sense to me! It is interesting that they are holding a public information session. That seems like more of a Vermont-style thing, but I don't recall anything like that happening when Vail bought Stowe (which is operated on land leased from the state).
My guess would be it has something to do with the terms and conditions of the lease, and the requirements for it to change hands. Maybe NH put stricter terms on termination of the lease if it changes owners, or something to that extent.

EDIT:
This article actually explains the whole thing...http://www.concordmonitor.com/New-H...-Sunapee-will-require-state-approval-18216953

"The acquisition would give the ski resort conglomerate the sublease required to operate Sunapee, but not the lease to land itself. Presently, New York-based hedge fund Och-Ziff Capital Management holds the land lease with the state, which owns the mountain; in its announcement, Vail said it would spend $155 million to buy itself out of that sublease and take control of the land lease. "

It goes on to say that any transfer of the land lease must be approved by the state.
 
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#76
EDIT:
This article actually explains the whole thing...http://www.concordmonitor.com/New-H...-Sunapee-will-require-state-approval-18216953

"The acquisition would give the ski resort conglomerate the sublease required to operate Sunapee, but not the lease to land itself. Presently, New York-based hedge fund Och-Ziff Capital Management holds the land lease with the state, which owns the mountain; in its announcement, Vail said it would spend $155 million to buy itself out of that sublease and take control of the land lease. "

It goes on to say that any transfer of the land lease must be approved by the state.
The VR press release mentions the money that Triple Peaks will use to buy out the the lease that exists with OZ before VR bought Triple Peaks. Not sure the interpretation in the Concord Monitor is correct. In any case, it's pretty clear that the Governor and Attorney General of NH want to be involved as control of Sunapee operations changes hands.

BROOMFIELD, Colo. – June 4, 2018 – Vail Resorts, Inc. (NYSE: MTN) announced today that it has entered into an agreement to purchase Triple Peaks, LLC, the parent company of Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont, Mount Sunapee Resort in New Hampshire, and Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado. The Company will purchase Triple Peaks, LLC from the Mueller family for a purchase price of $82 million, subject to certain adjustments. At closing, Triple Peaks will pay $155 million to pay off the leases that all three resorts have with Ski Resort Holdings, LLC, an affiliate of Oz Real Estate, with funds provided by Vail Resorts. . . .
The press release on the Okemo website about the pending sale does not mention the lease buyout at all. I found a note about the history of the Muellers and Sunapee about another NH governor. He was against their plans for development on private land near the ski area soon after the original operations lease was signed in 1998. That was ten years before CNL came into the picture.
 

elemmac

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#79
The VR press release mentions the money that Triple Peaks will use to buy out the the lease that exists with OZ before VR bought Triple Peaks. Not sure the interpretation in the Concord Monitor is correct. In any case, it's pretty clear that the Governor and Attorney General of NH want to be involved as control of Sunapee operations changes hands.
Agreed that they want to be involved, and as a resident of NH, I'm happy they want to be involved. I think the main reason it's being so heavily scrutinized in NH is due to the last acquisition, as you mentioned on an earlier post. CNL sold the holder of Sunapee's lease to OZ. Which due to the fact they sold the company that held the lease and not the lease itself it did not require state approval. Which, understandably, did not sit well with the land owner. I mean, I'd be kind of peeved if I owned a building, leased it to a company, and they sold the company to another owner without my knowledge.

Either way, should be interesting to see how it pans out. If NH doesn't agree to it...not that I have any reason to believe they won't...I wonder what will happen to the purchase of Triple Peaks.
 
#80
Either way, should be interesting to see how it pans out. If NH doesn't agree to it...not that I have any reason to believe they won't...I wonder what will happen to the purchase of Triple Peaks.
I would guess that VR will do what it takes to make NH government reps happy with a transition in ownership of ski related stuff and day-to-day operator. Presumably NH wants the improvements already approved in the Master Plan to be implemented sooner rather than later. VR has the financial resources to make that happen. NH can review the transition process that happened at the three midwest ski resorts bought in 2012 and 2016 for insight into how VR manages relatively small places. Besides money for capital upgrades, the big question is who is likely to be appointed as COO and/or GM for the initial transition period.

One of the GMs in the midwest--Afton Alps--is the same man who was running day-to-day operations before VR took over. VR put a relatively young man who was working at VR Colorado ski resorts for a while in charge of the transition years at Mt. Brighton in 2013 and then moved him to Wilmot when it was bought in 2016. $13 million was spent at Wilmot in the first year or so. Even though he was promoted in 2017 to VP responsible for the "Urban Division" while remaining GM of Wilmot, he left VR in early 2018. The Urban Division consists of the three midwest locations. He is still in the ski industry but back in Colorado at Purgatory. Given that he grew up in Chicago, be interesting to know the backstory to the move since the move was not a step up.

From an interview related to Crested Butte, Erica Mueller implied that she and her brother were not planning to work for VR. But pretty easy to guess that the two of them will continue to work in the ski industry since they are only around age 40. What Tim Mueller does next is much harder to guess.

As you can probably guess, I've been reading about the corporate history of Vail Resorts. In particular about the people who are or were executives (CEO, COO, VP) or senior managers (General Manager, Director) after 1992. My career after grad school was at a startup that went public successfully in 1993. I joined the company when there were 40 people. Ten years later, it was an international corporation with 17,000 employees. I worked through multiple transitions and knew more inside stories than most people because I was a senior manager who wasn't interested in the stress that goes with being a corporate VP. In the end, how things work inside a company is based on decisions made by people in charge as opposed to a faceless corporate entity.
 
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