Vail buys Okemo Mountain, Mount Sunapee and Crested Butte Mountain

edited June 4 in NELSAP Forum
To Our Mountain Family,
It is with a great deal of mixed emotions, yet, with tremendous hope for the future that we announce we are selling Triple Peaks LLC, which includes Okemo Mountain, Mount Sunapee and Crested Butte Mountain. First and foremost, we want you to know that this was the hardest decision we have ever made, especially as we begin to transition through this deal and say goodbye to each of you.
Recently, Vail Resorts approached us to buy out our leases and the operating companies for all three mountains. They recognized the distinct locations of our mountains, the incredible knowledge and passion each of you have, and the remarkable service you all have provided to millions of guests. Vail Resorts saw excellence and inquired about a possible purchase. We took a long time to think about how we wanted to proceed. But as mentioned before, this was far from easy. We kept asking ourselves the questions: What does this mean for us? For our teams? What does this mean for our communities and the mountains that we have poured decades worth of passion into? We were not naïve in realizing this would mean changes as the future unfolds. We spent a lot of time contemplating all of this, and decided that moving forward with the sale was in the best interest for the future of the mountains, our employees, communities and our loyal guests. As we look 10, 20, 30 years down the road, we ultimately decided that now would be the right time.
Over the last 36 years, we have come to know many of you like family. We have laughed, cried, raised children together, learned from each other, celebrated successes, skied some awesome runs together, all while growing Triple Peaks into a successful company. For this we feel so fortunate, forever grateful to you for your support through it all, and yet so sad to say goodbye.
We realize that you will have many questions around the sale. What does this mean for you and your families? Each of us are here to help answer those questions as best we can. While we cannot perfectly predict the future, we have spoken with the Vail Resorts team at length about company culture, structure, and employees’ futures. We are truly confident that Vail Resorts is the best company to lead our resorts moving forward. We feel that there will be great opportunities for many of you, both vertically and horizontally across their organization. We know that they invest heavily in their team’s professional development, so we know that you will be in a good position to continue to grow in your careers. Vail Resorts will also be able to invest in each mountain, continuing the remarkable growth and bolstering the legacies of our resorts and people.
We have always been very proud to be family owned and operated, and while this is changing, it is changing in a very positive direction.
With all of this, we feel very optimistic about the future of the resorts. We look forward to witnessing the success continue and watching each of you grow. Thank you for all of the unwavering dedication, the years of hard work, your smiles, and your friendships.
With all sincerity,
Tim, Diane, Ethan & Erica (The Mueller Family)

https://www.streetinsider.com/Corporate+News/Vail+Resorts+(MTN)+to+Acquire+Okemo+Mountain+Resort,+Mount+Sunapee+Resort,+Crested+Butte+Mountain+Resort,+and+Stevens+Pass+Resort/14266792.html
ISNE-I Skied New England | NESAP-the New England Ski Area Project | SOSA-Saving Our Ski Areas - Location SW of Boston MA
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Comments

  • Holy crap! Now all three are part of that pass system? What do people think will happen to "independent" areas like Jay and Sugarbush? I'm not too worried about MRG or Killington as they have a big draw no matter what-- but how much of a game changer is this for Southern Vermont?
    "Making ski films is being irresponsible with other people's money, in a responsible sort of way..." 
    Greg Stump
  • They were already added to the Epic pass in March.
    http://www.5280.com/2018/03/crested-butte-joins-the-epic-pass/
    ISNE-I Skied New England | NESAP-the New England Ski Area Project | SOSA-Saving Our Ski Areas - Location SW of Boston MA
  • Yikes, this is never ending. Hopefully being in a state park will prevent too much change at Sunapee.
    - Sam
  • Vail's Press Release: news.vailresorts.com/corporate/vailresorts/tpsp.htm. It says they plan on spending $35 million over the 4 resorts over the next 2 years. I'll believe it when I see it, but still this is a bit of a shocker!
  • What has been the trend for prices (Day tickets, Passes, etc) at the resorts that Vail has purchased?
  • Let's take a guess at what may go in with the investment.

    Okemo - one of the South Quads gets replaced by a HSQ or HS6. Sachem and/or Glades Peak gets an upgrade too. Northeast Chair gets replaced and lengthened with a faster lift.

    Sunapee's approved improvements are already well documented.
  • My guesses for Jeremy's post:

    Okemo: South Face Quads as stated, and maybe the proposed original Gondola that was planned for Jackson Gore to the summit.

    Sunapee: The North Peak move - North Peak Triple moved to Cataract and the old Sun Bowl Quad in storage will be put back in as the North Peak Quad. This project is just about turn-key. Though I don't know what Vail's desire to reuse a lift that's already been moved 3 times.
  • Here's the Ski Area Management article:

    VAIL RESORTS TO ACQUIRE OKEMO, CRESTED BUTTE, STEVENS, SUNAPEE

    SAM Magazine—Broomfield, Colo., June 4, 2018—It’s been about 15 months since Vail Resorts added a new ski area to its portfolio, and today the company said it plans to add four more, with the acquisition of Triple Peaks, LLC, which is the parent company of Okemo, Vt., Mount Sunapee Resort, N.H., and Crested Butte, Colo., plus Stevens Pass, Wash., in a separate transaction. All four properties are currently operated under lease agreements with Ski Resort Holdings, LLC, an affiliate of Oz Real Estate.
    The purchase price for Triple Peaks, which also includes its Okemo Valley and Tater Hill golf courses, is $82 million. At closing, Triple Peaks will pay $155 million to pay off the leases that all three winter resorts have with Ski Resort Holdings, with funds provided by Vail Resorts. Stevens Pass is being acquired for $67 million. Both transactions are subject to certain adjustments and certain closing conditions, including regulatory approvals. The transactions are expected to close this summer.
    “Together, the acquisitions of Okemo, Mount Sunapee, Crested Butte, and Stevens Pass will significantly enhance the Vail Resorts’ network of resort experiences, adding even more variety and choice for all of our pass holders and guests,” said Rob Katz, chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts.
    After closing of the two transactions, VR plans to invest $35 million over the next two years across the four resorts. The company said annual ongoing capital expenditures are expected to increase by $7 million to support the addition of these four resorts. Together, these acquisitions are expected to generate incremental annual EBITDA in excess of $35 million in Vail Resorts’ fiscal year ending July 31, 2019.
    “Triple Peaks, LLC and the Mueller family, and Karl Kapuscinski, the tenant and operator of Stevens Pass Resort, have been outstanding operators of these resorts and we have valued our association with them,” said Steven Orbuch, founder and president of Oz Real Estate. “We are excited for the opportunities that these transactions create for Vail Resorts and its guests while providing a beneficial outcome for our investors.”
    “We know our guests and employees will benefit from Vail Resorts’ outstanding track record of resort and community investment, environmental stewardship, and employee development,” said Tim Mueller, president of Triple Peaks, LLC. “We care deeply about the legacy of these resorts, and have absolute confidence in Vail Resorts to celebrate what makes them so special, while also providing long-term stability for the communities.”
    Operations at the four resorts for the remainder of the 2018 summer season will continue as usual, as will future winter seasonal hiring. Upon closing, Vail Resorts said it plans to retain the vast majority of each resort’s employees and will be working with the local leadership teams in the coming months to determine the right long-term management structure for the resorts.
    All four resorts will be included, with no restrictions, on the various Epic Pass products.
    Vail Resorts will, subject to approval, assume the state land leases for Okemo Mountain Resort and Mount Sunapee Resort and will obtain new Special Use Permits from the U.S. Forest Service for Crested Butte Mountain Resort and Stevens Pass Resort. The state land lease transfers in Vermont and New Hampshire are subject to administrative review and consent from their respective states.
  • newpylong said:

    What has been the trend for prices (Day tickets, Passes, etc) at the resorts that Vail has purchased?

    Speaking as a Vermonter, and looking at what had happened and Stowe for an example, the prices will go up and deals and discounts for locals will decease or disappear. Vail produces a good product. But expensive. They really are becoming quite predatory.
  • edited June 4
    I predict Vail is already looking at ways to jettison Sunapee. Hard to be Epic® without condos, parking garages and Potemkin villages. Then again, maybe New Hampshire will be suckered in by their rodomontade.

    Personally I think this is bad news.

    My experience with Vail Resorts properties is that parking sucks and prices are exorbitant. After you finally find your way through the village, there's no place to boot up, no place to store your bag without paying, and the lines for everything are Epic®.

    I predict lift tickets will increase dramatically, but some of us will be suckered into going because an Epic® passholder will tell us they can save us 20% with their pass. I predict we'll be dumbfounded by how long the line takes because the people at the ticket window ask you questions that have nothing to do with skiing but everything to do with Epic® e-mail target marketing and it will delay getting to the slopes by about 30-40 minutes and it will suck.

    I predict that while you're waiting on line, a good looking associate will give you a cookie, while the Epic® passholders smile brightly and rave about how wonderful it all is.

    I predict it will suck epically. Including the cookie.

  • Just a reminder, in the world of consolidation, don't forget your local area. I certainly enjoy the larger resort experience, but we need the smaller-mid sized independents to keep the sport going.
  • Aldee said:


    newpylong said:

    What has been the trend for prices (Day tickets, Passes, etc) at the resorts that Vail has purchased?

    Speaking as a Vermonter, and looking at what had happened and Stowe for an example, the prices will go up and deals and discounts for locals will decease or disappear. Vail produces a good product. But expensive. They really are becoming quite predatory.
    I also heard that they are going to drop the early openings at Stowe of 7:30 and 8:00 a.m. and bring everything to a 9:00 a.m. daily opening. So not only are prices going up but hours of operation may be declining as well. How's that for bang for your (Epic) buck?
  • Rick, tell us what you really think! ;)
    ISNE-I Skied New England | NESAP-the New England Ski Area Project | SOSA-Saving Our Ski Areas - Location SW of Boston MA
  • > @NELSAP said:
    > Just a reminder, in the world of consolidation, don't forget your local area. I certainly enjoy the larger resort experience, but we need the smaller-mid sized independents to keep the sport going.

    This is bad news for Bromley. All other vt resorts from Stowe south have a multi resort tie in , except Magic which has a unique growing culture. But costs count, I grabbed a peak pass this year to keep it economical for me.
  • That epic 4-Day Pass is starting to resemble the Max Pass. Enticing. Just wish there were more East Coast resorts.
    You ski because even if you don't do it well, it's still a blast....
  • I will continue to limit my visits to independent NE ski areas.

    Suggest you all consider doing the same before they cease to exist.

    My .02
  • JMaul said:

    That epic 4-Day Pass is starting to resemble the Max Pass. Enticing. Just wish there were more East Coast resorts.

    The Epic 4 day is 4 days total, not 4 days at each resort. It is no bargain at all!
  • Here's the Liftblog.com article.

    Coast to Coast: Vail Resorts Buys Okemo, Crested Butte, Mt. Sunapee & Stevens
    June 4, 2018 Peter Landsman



    Crested Butte Mountain Resort operates a dozen lifts in central Colorado, mostly built by Poma.

    The largest publicly-traded ski resort company in the world today simultaneously unveiled two major transactions to buy ski resorts in four different states for more than $300 million. Vail Resorts will acquire Triple Peaks, LLC for $82 million and Stevens Pass, Washington for $67 million, subject to regulatory approval. The former, founded and owned by Tim and Dianne Mueller, operates Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont, Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado and Mt. Sunapee in New Hampshire, hence the name Triple Peaks. Broomfield, Colorado-based Vail will buy out the three resorts’ long term leases from Oz Real Estate upon closing for an additional $155 million. Okemo, Mt. Sunapee and Crested Butte signed onto the industry-pioneering Epic Pass back in March and will now offer unlimited, unrestricted access for Epic passholders.
    Another Oz-owned resort, Stevens Pass, will be sold to Vail for $67 million in a separate deal subject to regulatory approval. Stevens Pass is currently operated by Karl Kapuscinski along with Mountain High, California. The SoCal resort is not included in Vail’s purchase. Stevens Pass will join the Epic Pass for the first time, making it an even more compelling product for Pacific Northwest skiers who frequent Whistler Blackcomb. Stevens will also be included in the Edge Card, a product that predated Vail and is offered exclusively to residents of British Columbia and Washington. Notably, Stevens Pass has major lift expansions on both flanks of the current trail system in its approved master plan.

    Okemo is a nearly 100 percent Poma mountain in southern Vermont that competes with the powerhouses of Stratton, Mt. Snow and Killington.

    With today’s news and other deals including the sale of six resorts to Boyne Resorts, the Oz Real Estate Ski Resort Holdings portfolio now includes just Jiminy Peak and Sierra at Tahoe, down from 15 resorts at its peak under CNL Lifestyle Properties. Northstar California, Mountain High and Bretton Woods were also sold off over the last few years.

    Stevens Pass is one of three major day use ski resorts near Seattle that operates Riblet, CTEC and Doppelmayr lifts.

    Vail Resorts now stands to own 301 lifts at 18 resorts in ten U.S. states and two additional countries. “Together, the acquisitions of Okemo, Mount Sunapee, Crested Butte, and Stevens Pass will significantly enhance the Vail Resorts’ network of resort experiences, adding even more variety and choice for all of our pass holders and guests,” said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts. “Okemo and Mount Sunapee are terrific complements to Stowe in the Northeast, as is Crested Butte to our four Colorado resorts, and Stevens Pass for our Whistler Blackcomb and Seattle guests. Each of these resorts will individually offer guests from around the world entirely new and distinctive experiences in extraordinary locations from coast to coast.”
    The new resorts are expected to add more than $35 million in incremental annual EBITDA to Vail’s bottom line upon closing. Vail plans to invest $35 million in capital improvements at the four mountains resorts over the first two years, which is almost certain to include some new lifts.
  • Chuckstah said:

    JMaul said:

    That epic 4-Day Pass is starting to resemble the Max Pass. Enticing. Just wish there were more East Coast resorts.

    The Epic 4 day is 4 days total, not 4 days at each resort. It is no bargain at all!
    Wow! Totally read that wrong. Yeah, that sucks. I'm an idiot.
    You ski because even if you don't do it well, it's still a blast....
  • hrstrat57 said:

    I will continue to limit my visits to independent NE ski areas.



    Suggest you all consider doing the same before they cease to exist.



    My .02

    I get the impression that this group overwhelmingly supports and skis at the smaller areas. But we're a minority. Teeny tiny percentage. The majority of the population prefers the big crowded resorts, mainly because they're big and crowded.

    I've skied with people in powder at a small area, and they're unimpressed. Next day we hit a big overblown crowded monster, 3X more expensive, skied on ice, lines everywhere, and they couldn't get enough. Bright lights, big city, "free" cookies.

  • Do we have a Stowe regular on SJ who can comment from personal experience how the Vail takeover has affected Stowe crowds and ops?
  • JMaul said:

    Chuckstah said:

    JMaul said:

    That epic 4-Day Pass is starting to resemble the Max Pass. Enticing. Just wish there were more East Coast resorts.

    The Epic 4 day is 4 days total, not 4 days at each resort. It is no bargain at all!
    Wow! Totally read that wrong. Yeah, that sucks. I'm an idiot.
    You're not the first. A couple times on here or AZ folks thought it was 4 at each place.
    There are so many great deals out there I think people assume that the Epic 4 is one of them.
  • Do we have a Stowe regular on SJ who can comment from personal experience how the Vail takeover has affected Stowe crowds and ops?

    Good question. I was wondering this myself
  • jaytrem said:

    JMaul said:

    Chuckstah said:

    JMaul said:

    That epic 4-Day Pass is starting to resemble the Max Pass. Enticing. Just wish there were more East Coast resorts.

    The Epic 4 day is 4 days total, not 4 days at each resort. It is no bargain at all!
    Wow! Totally read that wrong. Yeah, that sucks. I'm an idiot.
    You're not the first. A couple times on here or AZ folks thought it was 4 at each place.
    There are so many great deals out there I think people assume that the Epic 4 is one of them.
    Chuckstah said:

    JMaul said:

    That epic 4-Day Pass is starting to resemble the Max Pass. Enticing. Just wish there were more East Coast resorts.

    The Epic 4 day is 4 days total, not 4 days at each resort. It is no bargain at all!
    I actually did buy this last year. It was for a 4 day trip to Breckenridge. I was heading out west four only 4 days and didn't see me getting to Stowe 2 additional times to make upgrading to the Epic Local worth it. I think only under these circumstances the Epic 4 is worth it because it save me a lot versus the walk-up 4 day rate.

    I am still up in the air about if I am going out west this year but if I do I probably still with go with the Epic 4. I rarely get to Okemo or Sunapee and if I make it to Stowe it is only for a day.
  • shpride said:

    Do we have a Stowe regular on SJ who can comment from personal experience how the Vail takeover has affected Stowe crowds and ops?

    Good question. I was wondering this myself
    I am not a Stowe local, but live in Burlington. I had an Epic pass for this past ski season. Crowds were the same size I saw in previous years. I think the lack of snow in January and February kept some people away. I wasn't there during Christmas/New Years, but with the cold I assume crowds were down.

    Two seasons ago was when there was a lot of issues associated with traffic. Instead of a 1 hour drive, it turned into 1 hour 45 minutes with traffic starting in downtown Stowe. The later start to spining the Fourrunner quad was a bummer for many of my coworkers, as they go early and then go into work.
  • The Mueller's are probably skiing's "golden child" if you think about it. They started by buying Okemo in what? The early 80's for probably a steal. They expanded both the skiing and, of course, the real estate foot print. They expanded and purchased other resorts and took over management at still another and then some 30 years later sold their resorts for 82 million. Pretty impressive, despite my disdain for large McResorts, who they finally "sold out" to.
  • edited June 5
    In the absence of a lot of responses from SJers, I contacted a good friend with whom I ski early and late season at Killington, but who spends most of his season at Stowe. He reports the following:

    "There wasn’t a lot of change at Stowe this year, but rumors about next year are abundant. From changing starting hours from 7:30 weekends and holidays, 8:00 weekdays to 9:00, to charging for parking, and shortening the season. Even closing from 12:00 to 1:00 to regroom. All rumors so far. They definitely have more rules. Zero tolerance for skiing closed trails, yellow jacket patrols who can deactivate your pass for skiing too fast. No big savings in price for seniors, but everyone else can ski for $899 at any Vail resort."

    So, I'm glad Vail didn't buy my mountains!
  • edited June 5
    Thank you all. I am wondering what if anything this means for us at the neighboring Whale. While it will be unfortunate if more are priced out of Sunapee, I would hope as WB becomes more consistent more may give it a shot as a more affordable local option.
  • edited June 5
    > @ski_it said:
    > They were already added to the Epic pass in March.
    > http://www.5280.com/2018/03/crested-butte-joins-the-epic-pass/

    You were right BMWskier, I believe the prior deal was 7 days now it is unrestricted. Kinda wished they’d had announced earlier.

    *NEW FOR 2018/2019* Now to include unlimited, unrestricted access to Okemo, Mount Sunapee, Crested Butte, and Stevens Pass!*

    *Disclaimer: Resort access and benefits at Okemo, Crested Butte, and Mount Sunapee are pending closure of the transaction to acquire Triple Peaks. Resort access and benefits at Stevens Pass are pending closure of the transaction to acquire Stevens Pass Resort. Both transactions are expected to close in Summer 2018.
    ISNE-I Skied New England | NESAP-the New England Ski Area Project | SOSA-Saving Our Ski Areas - Location SW of Boston MA
  • Does the state of NH have any say in this because Sunapee is leased from the state?
    - Sam
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