Archive for December, 2012
Vail Resorts to Acquire Two Ski Areas in Midwest, Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mount Brighton in Michigan
* Acquisitions Join Guests of Premier Urban Midwest Ski Areas with Vail
Resorts’ Seven World-Class Mountain Resorts
BROOMFIELD, Colo.—Dec. 6, 2012—Vail Resorts, Inc. (NYSE: MTN) announced today that it
has entered into agreements to purchase two premier urban ski areas in the Midwest, Afton Alps
in Minnesota and Mount Brighton in Michigan, for total cash consideration of $20 million. Both
ski areas serve major snow sports markets in the Midwest with more than 468,000 active skiers
and snowboarders in the nearby Minneapolis-St. Paul and Detroit metropolitan areas. Vail
Resorts plans to upgrade and enhance the experience at each resort and create opportunities to
connect guests from each of these ski areas to its seven world-class resorts in Colorado and Lake
Tahoe through season pass and other lift ticket products.
“We are thrilled to welcome Afton Alps and Mount Brighton to the Vail Resorts family. These
acquisitions are part of a new strategy for Vail Resorts to drive season pass sales and build
broader guest loyalty by looking at premier smaller ski areas located near major urban markets.
We plan to bring state-of-the-art racing, terrain parks, coaching and technology to the guest
experience. We also will connect these urban ski areas to our world-class resorts in Colorado,
California and Nevada with new season pass offerings, providing the chance to experience the
best skiing and riding locally and in the West,” said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive
officer of Vail Resorts.
“Afton Alps’ great terrain and strong heritage built by the Augustine family make it an ideal ski
area for our entry into the Minneapolis-St. Paul market. Similarly, Mount Brighton is a great
area for beginners and advanced skiers alike in the Detroit, Lansing and Ann Arbor markets
with a strong snow sports tradition built over decades by the Tippett and Bruhn families. We
plan to honor the important legacy of each ski area for their loyal guests while investing to
enhance the experience in the years to come.” Katz added.
Vail Resorts plans to enhance both the on-mountain and base area experience at each ski area.
These enhancements will include redesigned and updated terrain parks, best-in-class coaching
and instruction for all levels of skiers and riders, dedicated racing programs, expanded dining
and entertainment options at the base area, and integrated technology and social media
programs like EpicMix, EpicMix Photo and EpicMix Racing. The Company also will invest in
each ski area’s infrastructure to improve snowmaking, parking and access to provide a more
consistent experience throughout the season. Finally, the Company will be reviewing
opportunities to add new summer activities. The Company will be outlining its plans in the
coming months and meeting with the local communities to seek their input.
Nearing its 50th anniversary, Afton Alps is the largest ski area near a major city in the Midwest
with 48 trails on nearly 300 acres, 18 lifts, four base areas, night skiing and riding, tubing and
an 18-hole golf course. Afton Alps is located 33 miles from more than two million people and
more than 161,000 skiers and snowboarders in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area.
Open since 1960, Mount Brighton features 26 trails on 130 acres, six lifts, night skiing and
riding and an 18-hole golf course. The ski area is located 43 miles from Detroit and is within
reach of more than four million people and more than 307,000 skiers and snowboarders in the
Detroit, Lansing and Ann Arbor metropolitan areas.
Vail Resorts is planning season pass products for both Afton Alps and Mount Brighton in time
for the 2013-2014 season pass sales period, beginning in March 2013. In the meantime, to
welcome both ski areas into the Vail Resorts family, Afton Alps and Mount Brighton season pass
holders will immediately receive a 25-percent discount off of the window rate on lift tickets at
Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood this season.
For more information, visit http://www.aftonalpsisepic.com and
The Company expects to complete the purchase of both urban ski areas within the next month;
closing is subject to certain conditions.
Whistler (BC), Canada – Denver-based KSL Partners, the private equity firm that has been quietly snatching up ski resorts across the U.S. and leasing them back to their operators, has entered into an agreement to buy a substantial interest in Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. from Intrawest ULC.
Whistler Blackcomb Holdings owns and operates North America’s largest ski resort, Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada. The sale agreement accounts for Intrawest’s 9,092,500 common shares of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings, approximately 24% of the corporation’s issued and outstanding common shares, for $12.75 per common share in a transaction totaling nearly $116 million.
The Intrawest disposition is being made in conjunction with an Intrawest refinancing. The transaction is expected to be completed tomorrow.
As a result of the sale by Intrawest, Bill Jensen has tendered his resignation as a director and Chief Executive Officer of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings, and Wes Edens and Jonathan Ashley have each tendered their resignation as a director of the corporation, effective as of the time of closing. Also effective as of the time of closing, Whistler Blackcomb Holdings’ board of directors has appointed Dave Brownlie, the corporation’s current President and Chief Operating Officer, as the corporation’s President and Chief Executive Officer and a director, and appointed Eric Resnick and Peter McDermott, both of KSL, as directors to fill the vacancies created by these resignations.
Resnick is co-founder and Managing Director of KSL and has deep, long-standing ties to the ski industry. McDermott is a partner at KSL.
Concurrently with these appointments, Whistler Blackcomb Holdings’ board of directors has appointed Flora Ferraro, the corporation’s current Vice President of Finance, as Interim Chief Financial Officer. The corporation intends to announce the appointment of a permanent chief financial officer shortly.
“KSL is delighted to be acquiring a 24% interest in a world-class ski area. Whistler Blackcomb is the largest and most visited ski resort in North America and we feel that it complements our portfolio of premier travel and leisure properties,” said Resnick. “Peter and I are looking forward to working with the board to grow the business. Whistler Blackcomb has a very experienced and successful management team and we are enthusiastic to work with them as they continue to deliver a fantastic mountain experience for Whistler Blackcomb’s guests.”
“On behalf of the board of directors, I am very pleased to welcome Eric Resnick and Peter McDermott to the board. We would also like to express our appreciation to Wes Edens and Jonathan Ashley for their contributions to Whistler Blackcomb during their tenure on the board, and especially to Bill Jensen, for his valued service as Chief Executive Officer and as a director,” commented Graham Savage, Chairman of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings’ board of directors. “We are also pleased to appoint Dave Brownlie as Chief Executive Officer and as a member of the board of directors. With over 24 years in ski resort management, Dave brings insight and experience to the position and I am looking forward to continuing to work with him to grow the business.”
In a statement to shareholders, KSL indicated that the firm expects to hold the purchased shares for investment purposes. However, they added that KSL and its affiliates expect to evaluate on an ongoing basis the financial condition and prospects of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings and its interest in the corporation, and may from time to time acquire additional common shares of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings or may dispose of all or a part of their shares.