News Roundup: Companies

  • All of a sudden, the Aspen Lift One project finds itself in jeopardy.
  • The City of Branson ends its exclusive agreement with a would-be gondola developer after years of false starts.
  • Two companies bid to replace the Barrows double at Howelsen Hill in 2020 or 2021.
  • Disney Skyliner attendants will start at $12 an hour.
  • Competing resorts comment on the New Hampshire Vail acquisitions as Attitash touts major lift maintenance investments.
  • A jury decides Wachusett Mountain should pay $3.3 million to the family of a child who was injured in a 30 foot fall from the Polar Express in 2015.
  • The Placer County Board of Supervisors unanimously approves the California Express gondola project.
  • Utah Olympic Park breaks ground on the first phase of its major expansion with a second new lift to follow in two to five years.
  • A study concludes Teton Pass, Montana would need to attract 15,000 visitors annually to reopen as a viable resort.
  • Big changes are coming to the EB-5 visa program, which some ski areas have used to pay for big ticket improvements in the past.
  • Timberline’s owners hire an investment bank to sell the ski area.
  • Berkshire Bank and others slam the latest Hermitage restructuring plan.
  • TransLink gets serious about building a 3S in metro Vancouver.
Advertisements

Instagram Tuesday: Mountain Ranges

Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

Wind Blamed for Occupied Chair Falling in Australia

A lone skier was only slightly injured when the quad chair he was riding detached and fell some thirty feet near the top terminal of the Gunbarrel Express at Thredbo earlier today.  In a statement, the resort says the incident was isolated to one chair and the result of high winds.  According to the Canberra Times, the region recorded a maximum gust of nearly 70 miles per hour Monday.

Gunbarrel is a 1988 Doppelmayr detachable quad with DS grips.  The lift traverses more than 5,500 feet of intermediate and advanced terrain with a capacity of 2,800 skiers per hour.

It’s already Tuesday in Australia and Gunbarrel remains on standby while other lifts are currently open.

Vail to Acquire Peak Resorts for $264 Million

Vail Resorts has agreed to purchase Peak Resorts, the publicly-traded parent company of 17 ski resorts in the northeast and midwest.  The deal will more than double the number of mountains Vail operates and expand markets such as New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. for the Epic Pass.  Mountains to be acquired include Mt. Snow in Vermont, Hunter Mountain in New York and Attitash in New Hampshire.  Combined, Peak Resorts operates 109 aerial lifts in seven states.  Vail will be up to 37 mountains in three countries with 437 lifts upon closing.

Peak itself closed on a $76 million purchase of Snow Time, Inc. less than eight months ago, yet the merger and acquisition action continues. “We are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to add such a powerful network of ski areas to our Company,” said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts in an early morning announcement. “Peak Resorts’ ski areas in the Northeast are a perfect complement to our existing resorts and together will provide a very compelling offering to our guests in New York and Boston. With this acquisition, we are also able to make a much stronger connection to guests in critical cities in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest and build on the success we have already seen with our strategy in Chicago, Minneapolis and Detroit.”  The deal must still be approved by Peak’s shareholders, which are being offered $11.00 per share.  When the deal closes, Epic Pass holders will receive unlimited, unrestricted access to all 17 resorts.

IMG_3944
The flagship Bluebird Express at Mt. Snow will now truly be a sister lift to Sunburst Six at Okemo.

Vail plans to spend approximately $15 million for one-time capital improvements over the first two years and an ongoing $10 million per year to support the Peak properties.  Vail’s EBITDA is expected to increase by $60 million annually with the new additions.  The transaction is expected to close in the fall.

News Roundup: Norway

  • Actaris Impact Fund still wants to buy Saddleback but no deal has been reached after more than a year.
  • The Banff-Norquay gondola project faces stiff headwinds from Parks Canada.
  • The latest podcast from Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz highlights how the company takes over operations at newly-acquired resorts.
  • A judge rejects the Hermitage Club’s proposed restructuring plan as members look to reopen under new management.
  • In other Hermitage news, a Florida bank seeks to repossess 46 snow guns.
  • Here is the complete incident narrative from the February SeaWorld gondola deropement.
  • Lift construction gets underway at Skeetawk, America’s first all-new ski area since Cherry Peak in 2015.
  • Village construction resumes at Tamarack with Wildwood Express installation to follow this fall.
  • A helicopter delivers most of the new Steamboat gondola towers.
  • Last week’s gondola incident at Vail was not a result of tampering or sabotage.
  • Medellín’s sixth urban gondola, Line P, is on track to open in December.
  • After 1,231 days as Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area, the Badger Pass name returns thanks to a $12 million settlement between the National Park Service and two competing concession companies.
  • I spoke too soon on Eaglecrest possibly building Alaska’s first gondola.  Icy Strait Point on Chichagof Island is planning a gondola project to open as soon as next summer.
  • The haul rope is spliced for a rare fixed grip chondola in Illinois.
  • Mi Teleférico in La Paz broke its own daily record again on Monday with 583,841 riders, more than average weekday ridership for Boston’s three subway lines combined.

  • Municipally-owned Great Bear resorts to private fundraising in hopes of replacing its Borvig chairlift.
  • Placer County leaders will vote Tuesday on the Squaw-Alpine gondola.
  • Simon Fraser University steps up its Burnaby Mountain gondola marketing.
  • The Los Angeles Griffith Park gondola study is underway.
  • Eagle’s Rest 2.0 nears completion at Jackson Hole.

Instagram Tuesday: Fjord

Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

Disney Skyliner Launches September 29th

It’s official: the Disney Skyliner gondola network will open Sunday, September 29th.  Three lines will connect the Trinidad hub with terminals at Epcot, Pop Century/Art of Animation and Hollywood Studios.  The launch falls just one month after the highly anticipated grand opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios on August 29th.

sdgtyevgj1h1

Recent photos show finishing touches like landscaping and painting underway in advance of the opening.

Continue reading

News Roundup: High Impact

Sunlight Looks to the East

It may take a few years, but Sunlight Mountain Resort intends to add 100 acres along its eastern boundary serviced by a fourth fixed grip chairlift.  Glading work has already begun and will continue into next summer.  “This is a multi-year effort,” General Manager Tom Hays recently told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.  “We are in the very early stages of a process that includes building a capital fund, negotiating additional financing, permitting processes with the county and Forest Service, mapping, planning, and shopping for lifts.”  The project is estimated to cost $4 million and is dependent on another season or two as successful as 2018-19.

SunlightMap
Approximate alignment of the planned East Ridge chairlift, shown in orange.

New runs will be cut on private land below the Midland Traverse and will remain hike-out until the lift is installed.  The chair will load just above Four Mile Creek and unload above the Beaujolais and Rebel trails.  “We’re excited to expand skiing and riding on the already legendary East Ridge,” said Marketing and Sales Director Troy Hawks. “These new runs mean our local skiers and riders will have even more powder to explore and exploit.”  If all goes well, the new lift could spin in 2021.

Instagram Tuesday: Fabricating

Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.