News Roundup: In This Together

  • Citing the pandemic, Hermitage Club founder Jim Barnes seeks to delay today’s auction of resort assets.  A judge orders the auction to proceed at 10:00 am via telephone.
  • A group intends to sue to stop the State of Alaska from awarding a new lease of public land to Arctic Valley Ski Area.
  • For the first time since it opened, the Disney Skyliner gondola lines are completely devoid of cabins.
  • Vail Resorts reveals Coronavirus will cost at least $180 million and the company is reviewing preciously announced capital expenditures including six planned lifts.
  • The Indy Pass will include at least 47 resorts for 2020-21.
  • Though the Alaska cruise ship season is delayed until at least July 1st, Icy Strait Point still plans to welcome passengers aboard its new gondola system.
  • The website is live for Saddleback 2.0.
  • Timberline Mountain now plans to unveil its reopening lift plans early next week.
  • Construction continues on New Zealand’s first D-Line and a three station gondola at Thredbo, Australia.
  • One of Colorado’s Senators asks the Forest Service to waive remaining 2020 rent payments for 122 ski areas located on National Forest lands.
  • Skyline Investments, owner of two ski resorts and many other hospitality businesses, reports record revenue but warns Coronavirus will have significant impacts including the possible closure of resorts through summer.
  • Skytrac is the low bidder for all three quads proposed for Gore and Whiteface Mountains.


24 thoughts on “News Roundup: In This Together

  1. Mike Turley March 20, 2020 / 10:47 am

    When ski resorts resume business are they going to let the old guys go who they have to pay the most or young guys who are cheap ?
    Massive cuts in the labor force are on the horizon. Resorts will get tax breaks and free rent while full time year round employees are gonna be unemployed this time next year 😰

    Liked by 3 people

    • Rob Withey March 21, 2020 / 11:15 am

      Not happening here at WB. We need everyone, and as soon as we can all be back at work we will be. May be temporary layoffs if the COVID thing persists for a few months, but we need all the time and labour we can get just to get our regular maintenance done.


      • Mike Turley March 21, 2020 / 4:44 pm

        Lots of time and labor is needed for any maintenance program. The problem is going to be that resorts will not have the budgets they were planning on having. Without $ positions will be cut leaving less people to do lots of work in short time periods.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Daniel N. March 20, 2020 / 11:37 am

      Whats the plan for the area? Feels odd to try it again as a private resort, just after it failed.


      • skitheeast March 20, 2020 / 1:30 pm

        I have no idea what their plan is, but I personally believe they should really pursue a merger strategy with Vail at Mount Snow. They have proven that a private ski resort is not feasible, Magic already has the indie/local market covered in the region, and they will never be able to compete with a large scale operation against Alterra backed Stratton and Vail backed Mount Snow. Expanding slightly north along the ridge would make it extremely tempting for Vail to purchase and connect the resorts. Mount Snow has crowding issues, Vail has connected Canyons and Park City, and Smuggs has acknowledged (and declined) bids from Vail since the Stowe acquisition in an effort to do the same on the east coast. For the homeowners, they will enjoy a larger, better-maintained resort, and they can ask the Colony homeowners about their largely positive experiences post-merger.


        • Tom spratlin March 20, 2020 / 2:00 pm

          Just skied Smuggs, had not been their in 10 years or so, was kinda shocked how primitive their facilities are, I know people love the place, if vail has not bought Smuggs it is because Vermont has told vail no on combining the ski areas, if vail cannot combine, Smuggs is worthless to vail, based upon what I saw at Smuggs they don’t do more than 100 k a year in skier visits in my opinion, the Mtn is gorgeous, just old facilities.


        • sullivanq March 20, 2020 / 8:50 pm

          At one point it was proposed that haystack and mt snow be connected. According to nesh “as partt of a grand Mt. Snow and Haystack expansion proposal, a connection between the areas was planned in the 1980s. A 1989 proposal map displayed three new lifts and nearly two dozen new trails being constructed toward Haystack by Mount Snow, Ltd” problem is it might be national forest land, or part of some conservation. As a joke, me and my dad would always call mt snow mt blow because he grew up skiing the stack and was upset that mt snow overshadowed it


        • bobby smith March 21, 2020 / 9:03 am

          Tom, there is no feasible way they’ll be able to connect the two.

          The trail to Smuggs starts ~15 feet above the terminal of Sensation Quad. When it replaced the Big Spruce Double, the lift was shortened and on a new alignment cutting off ~100 feet of vertical. Then the trail travels along the Long Trail towards Smuggs and requires a ~20 foot climb to get up to Upper Rumrunner.

          The trail to Stowe drops down from Sterling onto and across the Sterling Pond before a long and flat journey towards the Spruce pod.

          Simply put there is no way to get to Stowe unless that pond is frozen.

          On top of that, Sterling Pond is one of — if not the (sources contradict) — highest elevation ponds in the state. It is heavily protected. It is an extremely fragile ecosystem … just the place you absolutely do not want a groomer to break down and spray hydraulic fluid or diesel all over the place, or snowmaking water from other basins bringing invasive species.

          The only “possible” way to connect the two resorts is to build a large pod towards the south off the col between Sterling and Madonna. Even then you’d only be able to access it from Madonna I, not from Sterling due to the topography.

          Of the last two major expansions in VT (Killington-Pico interconnect & Jackson Gore), both were approved decades ago. Jackson Gore opened in 2002-03 and the interconnet is still permitted awaiting funds if/when ever the base village ever proceeds.

          Simply put: it isn’t happening from an environmental perspective. That’s before you consider the anti-trust implications of Vail owning 4 of the 6 largest VT resorts.


      • bobby smith March 20, 2020 / 8:46 pm

        The land is deed-restricted … limited to 75 county residents per day only and members. It cannot be a public ski area without Vail’s blessing.


  2. Somebody March 21, 2020 / 12:24 am

    Wow, looks like Saddleback’s new ownership is trying to be a big player in the New England skiing market going as far as to say “Expect further lift upgrades in seasons to come”, something that even alterra/vail resorts can’t put on their websites. I’m not going to believe it until I see it, but I like what I’m hearing so far.


  3. Tom spratlin March 21, 2020 / 11:22 am

    Bobby, you are probably right about it being impossible to connect, Stowe with Smuggs, I was thinking of a gondola from one Side to the other. in this current environment, survival is what vail will be concentrating on, as well as Alterra, depending on how deep the shock is too the USA economy.


    • bobby smith March 21, 2020 / 12:28 pm

      Wind would be a massive problem.


  4. Stephen March 21, 2020 / 12:41 pm

    Thredbo is in Australia not New Zealand


    • Snow Boys March 21, 2020 / 1:59 pm

      It says threadbo is in Australia.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Raph March 21, 2020 / 8:13 pm

      He’s referring to two different lifts. The D-Line six-seat chairlift is being installed at The Remarkables in New Zealand. The eight-seat tri-station Gondola is being installed at Thredbo in Australia. Both are being built by Doppelmayr.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Tom spratlin March 21, 2020 / 1:01 pm

    Bobby, how long do deed restrictions last for? In Massachusetts, they are 30 years.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ralf March 21, 2020 / 2:28 pm

    I read the Vail investor release. I am sure they will face a serious loss as March is key revenue for them.
    But I think they are unrealistic about customer loyalty to their pass product, if social media is at all representative. A ton of people are upset that Epic Day passes and season pass holders are stuck holding the bag.
    Yes, those are the Terms and Conditions. But airlines, hotels, and many other travel sectors are making exceptions. If nothing else, they are likely viewing it as a necessary marketing expense so that they come out OK on the backside of this significant challenge.
    One hopes that VR saying they “may” evaluate in a few weeks is sincere. Even just a gesture (some percent discount to renew, perhaps?) would earn back decent good will.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thomas Jett March 21, 2020 / 6:25 pm

      The thing is, I don’t think that social media is representative. People who comment on ski area pages are overwhelmingly negative about everything. New detachable going in? Great, now tickets will go up and/or the mountain will be too crowded. New terrain expansion? Great, now some precious powder stash is going to be tracked out. They’re insufferable hipsters who care more about complaining than they do skiing.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Muni March 22, 2020 / 3:14 pm

    My guess is ORDA projects go through for sure. Dems have full control in Albany and Keynesian Econ 101 says government spending via shovel-ready projects is key to jump-starting a bruised economy. In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked if other more ambitious projects get moved forward, particularly if private resorts cancel projects and that frees up capacity for Poma/Doppelmayr.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Munier Salem March 22, 2020 / 3:15 pm

      One possible snag: a decimated state budget, and possible optics of allocating federal aid towards the skiing industry.

      Liked by 1 person

      • pbropetech April 5, 2020 / 12:27 pm

        Possibly, but I think people will be more willing to accept federal aid to ski areas than multinational corporations that spend their bailout money on stock buybacks and executive compensation. Just a thought.

        Liked by 1 person

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