Resort Report: Squaw sold, smoke-free Pico, Snowbird hits 100 & more

The flurry of ski area sales continues as Denver-based KSL Capital Partners said it will acquire Squaw Valley Ski Resort. And, the flurries on the mountains are continuing at a record pace, with Bridger Bowl opening two weeks early and Snowbird hitting the 100-inch mark.
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Denver-based KSL Capital Partners said on Nov. 23 it has entered into an agreement to acquire all of the shares of The Squaw Valley Development Company, which includes the ski area, the Village at Squaw Valley and related real estate holdings.

The transaction is expected to close this year. Financial terms were not disclosed.

KSL’s current and prior investments include the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa, Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, the San Francisco Bay Club and ClubCorp. Founders Eric Resnick and Michael Shannon have extensive experience in snowsports. Shannon was president of Vail Associates, a predecessor to Vail Resorts.

The group said it is committing more than $50 million in capital improvements over the next three to five years at Squaw Valley. Projects for next year include renovating the Olympic House and Gold Coast facilities.

“Squaw Valley is the birthplace of the modern mountain resort in the United States with a heritage, history, amenities and, perhaps most of all, extraordinary terrain that can never be recreated,” said Resnick (pictured, left), KSL’s managing director.

He also said that recently appointed Squaw Valley President and CEO Andy Wirth (pictured, right) will continue in his role.

Pico Mountain goes smoke-free on the slopes and chairs

Pico Mountain has partnered with the American Cancer Society and will become Vermont’s first smoke-free resort on Jan. 1, 2011.

To reward those who quit smoking, Pico will provide a complimentary one-day lift ticket or one-day Learn to Ski and Ride package to anyone who successfully completes a smoking cessation program offered at any of the 16 hospitals in the state of Vermont.

Snowbird hits 100-inch mark three days before Thanksgiving

Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort passed 100 inches of natural snowfall to start the 2010/11 season (photo - left) the morning of Nov. 22. The Little Cottonwood Canyon Resort has received two and a half feet of snow since Saturday with an additional one to two feet forecasted before Thanksgiving.

“The conditions are truly in mid-winter form right now,” said Snowboarder Magazine Publisher Chris Engelsman. “With 100+ inches already, this is the best pre-Thanksgiving riding I can remember.”

More than 6 feet of fresh snow at Tahoe ski resorts

A powerful storm rolled into Lake Tahoe on Nov. 16, leaving six and a half feet of new snow at the ski resorts’ upper elevations by the morning of Nov. 22. An additional two feet of new snow is expected to fall by the evening of Nov. 23.

“This was the perfect storm,” said Tourism Director Andy Chapman of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. “It came in fast, dropped a ton of snow, setting us up with superior snow conditions and skiing for the holiday weekend. Skiing and boarding at Thanksgiving is what Lake Tahoe is all about.”

Many North Lake Tahoe ski resorts have opened, including Boreal Mountain Resort, Mt. Rose - Ski Tahoe, Northstar-at-Tahoe and Squaw Valley USA. Others are opening in time for the holiday weekend: Sugar Bowl Ski Resort on Nov. 24, and Alpine Meadows Ski Resort on Nov. 26.

Bridger Bowl opens more than two weeks ahead of schedule

Originally projected to open for the season on Dec. 10, the Bridger Bowl Ski Area, which is 16 miles northeast of Bozeman, will be open Friday through Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend.

Hours of operation will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, with all chair lifts except Schlasman's scheduled to operate. 

New guidebook to the world’s luxury ski properties published

A new guide to the world’s finest luxury ski accommodation has hit the slopes, featuring the most exceptional ski hotels and chalets from every corner of the skiing world.

Accommodations listed range from grand-old, five-star deluxe hotels in the European Alps that have built up their reputations over more than a century through all types of luxury lodgings to high-tech tents on a private mountainside. Check it out at www.powderretreats.com

--Peter Kray

On Oct. 6, 2010, veteran journalist Peter Kray joined the SNEWS team and is now editor of the new SNEWS WinterSports channel. We trust you are enjoying the full offering of WinterSports news. Be sure to email your friends and let them know the best WinterSports news has arrived -- just in time for the start of the winter season. Got WinterSports news? Send your WinterSports news to Kray at pkray@snewsnet.com. Subscribers can also post WinterSports news releases directly to the SNEWS website. Email us at snewsbox@snewsnet.com to learn about posting your own news releases, or for any other questions or comments. We love to hear from our readers!

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