In news that’s echoing throughout the Tahoe region and nationwide as well, Vail Resorts Inc., owners of Heavenly, Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone, announced its acquisition of Northstar-at-Tahoe for $63 million in cash from Booth Creek Resort Properties, LLC on Oct. 25. The NYSE listed company (MTN), which is based in Broomfield, Colo., now has a long-term agreement to lease the property from its current owner, CNL Lifestyle Properties. Three top Booth Creek executives — CEO George Gillett, COO Chris Ryman, and CFO Betsy Cole — will not hold management positions at Northstar, and Vail Resorts has already begun the search for a new general manager for the resort. Julie Maurer, VP of marketing and sales with Booth Creek, has been retained.
‘We believe guests of Heavenly and Northstar will greatly appreciate the flexibility to enjoy both the north and south shores of Lake Tahoe as we introduce pass and lift tickets products that offer access to both resorts starting with this coming 2010-2011 ski season,’ said Vail Resorts Chairman Rob Katz. In addition, Vail’s Epic Pass holders will receive unlimited access to Northstar and Sierra-at-Tahoe. Sierra-at-Tahoe, however, was not included in the acquisition, and now is the only ski property owned by Booth Creek.
Reacting to the news on Wall Street, Vail Resorts was one of the day’s most notable stocks, up 3.2 percent and trading at $41.34 per share. The company’s operations are grouped into three business segments: Mountain, Lodging and Real Estate. Its Mountain segment owns and operates five ski resort properties, as well as ancillary businesses, including ski school, dining and retail/rental operations, which provide a resort experience to the clients. The company’s Lodging segment owns and/or manages a collection of luxury hotels under its RockResorts brand, as well as other lodging properties and a number of condominiums located in proximity to the Company’s ski resorts, the Grand Teton Lodge Company (GTLC), which operates three destination resorts at Grand Teton National Park (the Park), Colorado Mountain Express (CME), a resort ground transportation company, and golf courses. The Company’s Real Estate segment owns and develops real estate in and around the Company’s resort communities. In May 2010, the Company acquired Mountain News Corporation, a company specializing in reaching mountain recreation participants year-round through the web, email and radio.
Northstar’s operations include a base area village with 35 shops and restaurants in more than 100,000 square feet of commercial retail space, a conference center, a 9,000-square-foot skating rink, and extensive on-site lodging. Mountain facilities include 19 lifts, 92 trails encompassing 3,000 acres, snowmaking that covers 50 percent of the trails, and seven terrain parks. Sports activities include alpine and telemark skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and tubing. Summer activities include mountain biking, golfing, scenic lift rides for sightseeing and hiking, fly-fishing, and more. During the 2009-2010 ski season, Northstar recorded more than 700,000 visits.