Top Five Fridays - August 19, 2016 // Ski Industry News
#1: Co-Op Business Model Proposed for Saddleback:
A month or so ago when we reviewed possible outcomes for the futures of Jay Peak and Burke Mountain Resorts, we proposed the possibility of a co-op buyout of one or both ski areas. At the time, we cited Mad River Glen as a successful example of this business model and gave it a likelihood rating of “7”. Now, we’re hearing rumblings that another big name resort might be joining the co-op game. As you might know, Saddleback ski resort in Maine never opened for the 2015-2016 ski season as ongoing sales negotiations never came to fruition. Now, there’s a survey being shared by a Facebook group called “A Family Skiing in Maine” which hopes to gauge interest for turning the resort into a Co-Op. Judging by the questions on the survey, it looks as though this effort is in the very early stages and should be considered mostly as a feeler. In other words, don’t quote us as saying, “Saddleback Mountain is going to become a Co-Op.” Still, the group behind effort seems quite serious about the idea and it could provide a solution for the ongoing struggles of a mountain that is crucial to the local community. To learn more, take the survey, or show your support for the cause, check out the A Family Skiing in Maine Facebook page.
#2: Climate Change Cited as a Motive for Vail’s Purchase of Whistler Blackcomb:
Here’s an interesting update to a headline from last week. As it turns out, part of the reason why Vail was willing to shell out over a billion dollars to purchase Whistler Blackcomb resort, is because they’re emphasizing geographic diversity. As this post from the Mountain Town News explains, Rob Katz, the CEO of Vail, has been chasing this goal for a while now. As you likely know, Vail’s been acquiring resorts at a tremendous rate. At present, they own resorts in Utah, Colorado, California, Wisconsin, Michigan, Australia, and now British Columbia. In other words, as described by the NSAA’s President Michael Berry, Vail owns resorts in the three different climate zones of the Western states (Rockies, Sierra Nevada, and PNW), as well as America’s Midwest and Australia.
Now, in light of all of this, here’s another tie-in to our Jay Peak / Burke article. If Vail’s goal is to land a resort in as many different climate areas as possible, and their current Eastern most resort is in Michigan… the chances of Vail purchasing Jay Peak just increased. Add in the fact that Jay gets the most snow of any ski area in Vermont, is positioned between Montreal and Burlington, and will almost certainly be available at an attractive price and the likelihood rating turns up to about an 11 on this theory. Of course, we’re still just speculating over here.
#3: ZipCar Introduces Yakima Ski, Surf, and Bike Racks on Cars:
Speaking of climate change, one of the hot topics these days in the world of skiing is the idea of carpooling to the mountain. Running parallel to that is the rise of car sharing, a style of car ownership in which members are able to use cars at their convenience without the overhead costs of car payments, insurance, registrations or repairs. Now, ZipCar has found a pretty genius way to combine these two growing movements. Earlier this week, they announced a partnership with Yakima to include ski, bike, and surf racks on a selection of their available cars. A quick glance at ZipCar locations tells us that Portland, Seattle, Denver, Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Whistler are the most likely candidates to receive the first fleet of these rack equipped cards. For city dwellers, this could be an attractive option to commute to the resort in a car outfitted for the trek without having to worry about putting wear and tear on your own car. If you’re already a ZipCar member or are interested in learning more, head over to the ZipCar website.
#4: New 4 Seasons Resort Approved in BC:
Typically news of brand new ski resorts is received with mixed reactions. It’s always a balance between conserving natural areas and developing access to new skiable terrain. This doesn’t seem to be the case in British Columbia where it was announced this week that ski resort architect and visionary Oberto Oberti received initial approval from the BC Government to move ahead with his plans for an all-seasons resort on Mount Pierre Elliot Trudeau near Valemount. It’s been a lengthy process, as is usually the case, but ultimately it was the local support that resulted in the resort’s approval. According to Oberto Oberti, “This project would not be possible without the initiative and steadfast support of the people of Valemount and the Simpew First Nation.” With this round of approval, Oberti is set to start the process of building out his dream resort. After the first round of developments are complete, which is expected sometime after December 2017, the resort will provide access to 5,775 vertical feet of terrain with a summit height of 8,530 feet. Ultimately, the master plan will be to create a resort with a 6,726 vertical foot drop, with a summit that reaches glaciers at a 9,850 foot elevation. That would give the new resort, which is expected to be completed in 2027, both the highest elevation and longest vertical drop of any ski area in North America. Considering Vail’s recent admissions that it’s trying to diversify geographically, it makes you wonder: could they already have an eye on Valemount? Only time will tell.