Ski Resort Ownership in North America: Who Owns What, Part 1

22 Jul 2011

In the News

Written by Hunter Skyes, support from the Ski Area Citizens’ Coalition and additional information by MRA.

As we develop Mountain Rider’s Alliance, we have been examining the current ownership of ski resorts in the industry.

For Part 1, we will look at the Big Guns. Next week, we breakdown the Local Players.

The Big Guns:

These companies account for the majority of seasonal skier visits and gross income in North America.  The primary focus for most of the resorts owned by the Big Guns is the destination “experience” designed to derive income from amenities, lodging and real estate offered to a more affluent demographic.  Unlike the ski-centric ski area operators of the 90’s and early 2000’s, today’s ski resort owners are becoming much more diversified as they expand into all facets of the leisure market.  CNL Lifestyle Properties and KSL Resorts epitomize this trend as the Big Guns are increasingly managing their resorts as theme park attractions.

Just last week, the Senate Committee recommended the approval of the Ski Area Recreation Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2011, allowing for more year-round activities on Forest Service land.

CNL Lifestyle Properties

CNL Lifestyle Properties is a privately held real estate investment trust that invests in lifestyle-related industries such as ski areas, golf courses, retirement communities, marinas, theme parks, resort real estate and commercial retail space. CNL owns 150 properties across the United States and is by far the largest owner of ski areas and resorts in North America, with ownership of 14 ski areas and numerous lodging and retail properties located in or near ski resorts.  With ski related properties making up the majority of the company’s holdings, CNL actively seeks new opportunities for investment within the ski industry and recently purchased many of Intrawest’s “Village” developments:

CNL Ski Resort Ownership:

  • Brighton Ski Resort, Utah, managed by: Boyne USA
  • Summit-at-Snoqualmie Resort, Washington, managed by: Boyne USA
  • Cypress Mountain, British Columbia, managed by: Boyne USA
  • Loon Mountain Resort, New Hampshire, managed by: Boyne USA
  • Sugarloaf USA, Maine, managed by: Boyne USA
  • Sunday River, Maine, managed by: Boyne USA
  • Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort, California, leased by: Vail Resorts
  • Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort, California, managed by: Booth Creek Inc.
  • Mountain High Resort, California, managed by: Mountain High Resort Associates LLC
  • Crested Butte, Colorado, managed by: Triple Peaks LLC
  • Okemo, Vermont managed by: Triple Peaks LLC
  • Sunapee, New Hampshire, managed by: Triple Peaks LLC
  • Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, managed by: Celebration Associates
  • Jiminy Peak, Massachusetts, managed by: Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, LLC

CNL Owned Mixed-Use Ski “Villages”:

  • The Village at Copper, Colorado, managed by: Intrawest
  • The Village at Mammoth, California, managed by: Intrawest
  • The Village at Blue Mountain, Ontario, managed by: Intrawest
  • The Village at Stratton, Vermont, managed by: Intrawest
  • The Village at Snowshoe, West Virginia, managed by: Intrawest
  • Whistler Creekside, British Columbia, managed by: Intrawest
  • The Village at Northstar, California, managed by: Booth Creek

Vail Resorts, Inc.

Vail Resorts is a publicly held company that specializes in luxury resort outdoor “experiences”. They own ski areas, golf courses and luxury lodgings in California, Colorado, Wyoming and the Caribbean. Vail Resorts also owns many of the retail and transportation brands that serve their resorts. Vail Resorts is currently offering the Epic Pass, good at all seven of their areas for $649.

Vail Resorts Owned Ski Areas:

  • Beaver Creek, Colorado
  • Breckenridge, Colorado
  • Keystone, Colorado
  • Vail, Colorado
  • Heavenly, California/Nevada

Vail Resorts Leased Ski Areas:

  • Northstar at Tahoe (leased from CNL Lifestyle Properties)

Powdr Corp.

Powdr Corp is a privately held company that owns 8 ski areas in the United States.

Powdr Corp Owned Ski Areas:

  • Copper Mountain, Colorado
  • Park City Ski Area, Utah
  • Mount Bachelor, Oregon
  • Boreal Ski Area, California
  • Soda Springs Ski Area, California
  • Killington, Vermont
  • Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort, Nevada
  • Pico, Vermont

Aspen Skiing Company

Aspen Skiing Company is a privately held company with a predominate focus on offering recreational opportunities and less on real estate and lodging. Amongst the Big Guns, they are widely considered the leaders in the sustainable ski movement.

Aspen Skiing Company Owned Ski Areas:

  • Aspen Highlands, Colorado
  • Aspen Mountain, Colorado
  • Buttermilk, Colorado
  • Snowmass Ski Area, Colorado

Intrawest

Once the dominant player in the ski industry and responsible for developing the faux European “Villages” that sit at the base of many North American ski resorts, Intrawest is now a privately held company more involved with managing its former properties than acquiring and developing new ones.  Intrawest currently owns 5 ski areas in North America, manages a diverse array of resort properties in Canada, Hawaii, Mexico and throughout the United States, and owns and manages a vacation timeshare operation.

Intrawest Owned Ski Areas:

  • Blue Mountain, Ontario
  • Mt. Tremblant, Quebec
  • Stratton Mountain Resort, Vermont
  • Snowshoe/Silver Creek, West Virginia
  • Steamboat, Colorado

Intrawest Leased Ski Areas:

  • Winter Park, Colorado (leased from the City of Denver)

Boyne Resorts

Boyne Resorts is a privately held company that owns 4 ski areas and manages an additional 6 ski areas for CNL Lifestyle Properties.  Boyne Resorts also owns or manages 3 golf courses and has a real estate component at some of their properties. Each of their resorts operate with their own local management. Boyne has had the same continuous ownership since its founding in 1948.

Boyne Resorts Owned Ski Areas:

  • Boyne Highlands Resort, Michigan
  • Boyne Mountain Resort, Michigan
  • Big Sky Resort, Montana
  • Crystal Mountain, Washington

Boyne Resorts Leased Ski Areas:

  • Brighton, Utah (managed for CNL Lifestyle Properties)
  • Summit-at-Snoqualmie Resort, Washington (managed for CNL Lifestyle Properties)
  • Cypress Mountain, British Columbia (managed for CNL Lifestyle Properties)
  • Loon Mountain, New Hampshire (managed for CNL Lifestyle Properties)
  • Sunday River Resort, Maine (managed for CNL Lifestyle Properties)
  • Sugarloaf, Maine (managed for CNL Lifestyle Properties)

Peak Resorts, Inc.

Peak Resorts Inc. is a privately held company that owns or manages 10 ski areas in the East and Mid-West of the United States.  In April of 2011, Peak Resorts Inc. filed their registration for an initial public offering as the first step towards becoming a public company.

Peak Resorts Inc. Owned Ski Areas:

  • Wildcat Mountain Ski Area, New Hampshire
  • Boston Mills/Brandywine, Ohio
  • Hidden Valley, Missouri
  • Paoli Peaks, Indiana
  • Snow Creek Ski Area, Missouri

Peak Resorts Inc. Managed Ski Areas:

  • Attitash, New Hampshire (owned by Entertainment Properties Trust)
  • Mad River Mountain, Ohio (owned by Entertainment Properties Trust)
  • Mount Snow, Vermont (owned by Entertainment Properties Trust)
  • Crotched Mt. Ski Area, New Hampshire (owned by Entertainment Properties Trust)
  • Big Boulder/Jack Frost Ski Area, Pennsylvania (owned by Blue Ridge Real Estate)

KSL Resorts

KSL Resorts is a newcomer to the ski industry, although some of its executive team have worked within the industry previously.  KSL Resorts is a division of KSL Capital Partners, a private equity firm focused on travel and leisure businesses.  KSL Capital Partners, through KSL Resorts and KSL Management, own or are partners with more than 170 properties worldwide.  These include ski areas, golf resorts, cruise lines, spas, hotels, athletic clubs and residential and commercial real estate.  The company works with East-West Partners to develop and market resort real estate in ski resorts such as Deer Valley, Vail, Lake Tahoe and Summit County Colorado.

KSL Capital Partners recently closed a 2 billion dollar equity fund, far exceeding their original target of 1.5 billion.

There have been ongoing rumors that KSL is in negotiations to purchase neighbor, Alpine Meadows. Unofficial Networks reported on May 31, 2011 that a letter of intent was signed. KSL has pledged 50 million dollars in ski resort upgrades.

Photo courtesy of Unofficial Networks

KSL Resorts Owned Ski Areas:

  • Squaw Valley USA, California, including Village at Squaw Valley.
  • Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, California (based on rumor and not confirmed)

For Part 2, we will post about the local players. We believe this information to be accurate, as of July 22, 2011.

SEPTEMBER 7, 2011 UPDATE: Ski Area Management Magazine releases Ski Area Ownership Timeline.

Related posts:

  1. Run the Lifts-A Plea to Tahoe Ski Resort Executives by Gary Jeong
  2. Resorting to Madness, Part 2
  3. New Ski Resort Watchdog Group Formed
  4. Explaining Ski Industry Demographics
  5. Forward Thinking Copenhagen Architect Bjarke Ingles Combining Energy Plant with a Downhill Ski Resort
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