Resort Report: Surprise Powderhorn purchase, Stone out at CB and more

Colorado's Powderhorn ski area got some serious industry muscle overnight, as former Vail President and CEO Andy Daly and specialty retail heavyweights Ken and Tom Gart formed a partnership to buy the lifts and land at auction. That, Ken Stone's departure from Crested Butte and much more in the Resort Report.
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There was some serious ski industry muscle behind the purchase of Southwest Colorado’s little Powderhorn Ski Area on Aug. 4, 2011. The area, which had been put up for auction, was sold to former Vail Resorts executive Andy Daly and his new partners Ken and Tom Gart for $1.4 million.

“We really believe Powderhorn is a wonderful gem that has been undercapitalized for years,” Daly told the Associated Press. “We want to bring back skiing expertise and capital.” 

Daly, who admitted he has never skied the area, created Powderhorn Partners with the Garts, the third generation Colorado sporting goods retailers who recently sold the remaining shares in the Specialty Sports chain to Vail, to purchase the area. They put in the winning bid for the 1,600-acre, 1,650-vertical-drop ski area at $577,500, and the 700-acre development tract below the mountain at $825,000.

That tract could be developed into a golf course and or homesites, according to the AP. A hotel and restaurant, as well as a condominium complex that were also up for auction went to separate bidders. Daly was the president and CEO of Vail Associates, Inc. before it became Vail Resorts. He referred to the Gart’s role in the purchase as “real estate partners.” 

Ken Stone no longer with Crested Butte

Crested Butte Mountain Resort announced that chief operating officer Ken Stone stepped down from his position effective Friday, July 29, 2011. Referring to the move as a “planned transition,” Ethan Mueller has been named vice president/general manager of CBMR. Tim and Diane Mueller, operators of CBMR and also Ethan’s parents, will take a more active role in the operation of the resort according to a statement.

“Ken has made a significant contribution to improvements across the resort and with his guidance we’ve completed a successful resort re-branding and repositioning, creating a more consistent, cohesive marketing message,” said Tim Mueller. 

Mount Snow dubs new bubble chair the Bluebird Express

Mount Snow has announced Bluebird Express will be the name of the new high-speed detachable six passenger bubble chair lift which is currently being installed at the Southern Vermont resort. The area announced the new name at the Mount Snow Valley Blueberry Festival Parade in which Mount Snow entered a float complete with a bubble chair and banners brandishing the name.

The Bluebird Express is a high-speed detachable six passenger bubble chair, manufactured by Leitner-Poma, and will be the only one of its kind in America. It will follow the same path up the mountain as the former Summit Local, a fixed grip triple chair lift, but will cut the ride time in half to just seven minutes while increasing Mount Snow’s uphill capacity by up to 800 people per hour. 

Shames purchase held up at city council meeting

Shames Mountain, the greatest little ski area you never heard of, is still in ownership limbo as a request for city funds to aid a buyout was recently denied. My Mountain Co-op, which is trying to acquire Shames Mountain Ski Corp., had asked the town of Terrace, B.C., to chip in $200,000 toward the purchase, but the motion failed in a city council meeting vote. The co-op has only raised $400,000 of the $2 million needed to buy the area. The nearby town of Prince Rupert denied a similar request for funds. Shames has a vertical drop of 1,600 feet, legendary backcountry access, and averages 40 feet of annual snowfall.

In other news...

What fire officials are calling a “suspicious blaze” destroyed a ski lodge at the defunct Snow Valley ski area in Vermont. Though firefighters doused the fire, the structure, valued at $300,000, is considered a total loss…The Burke Mountain ski resort in northern Vermont has installed a wind turbine it hopes will generate 15 to 20 percent of the mountain's energy needs. The 121-foot turbine should be online by the end of August, and is expected to produce a little less than 300,000 kilowatt hours...Snowbasin's luxurious restrooms, which feature Italian Carrera marble, Barovier, Tosso & Moscatelli chandeliers crafted from bronze and crystal, floor to ceiling commodes and hand-painted walls have made the Utah ski area a finalist in America's Best Restroom contest, an annual rating of restrooms across the country sponsored by business supplier Cintas Corporation. Some of the other finalists include: Castello di Amorosa Winery in Calistoga, Calif., and Don's Johns Presidential Luxury Restroom Trailer in Chantilly, Va.…An article in U.K.'s Daily Mail has turned SKI into a new acronym, for Spending the Kids Inheritance. In the article, the Mail talks about how the new SKI set is actively purchasing sports cars and luxury holidays even as their kids struggle to make ends meet. “The emphasis used to be on home, garden and watching the pennies so a healthy legacy could be left for the children. But times are changing,” the article states.

--Peter Kray

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