News Roundup: Coast to Coast

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CWA and Doppelmayr Introduce Omega V

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On the heels of building its 50,000th Omega gondola cabin, CWA Constructions introduced the fifth generation of an icon yesterday.  Omega V features updated design language and is highly customizable for monocable gondola installations going forward.  Omega first debuted back in 1983 and the the rest is history.  The Omega IV joined the dynasty in 2007 and in just a dozen years became the chosen carrier for 29 gondolas in the United States and Canada.  “The new cabin features the unmistakable Omega shape which merges seamlessly with any of its surroundings. The cabin has been completely redeveloped while retaining the core values of a true Omega,” Doppelmayr says.

 

Designed with 10 passenger D-Line systems in mind, The V will become the global standard for snow, tourism and urban installations by the Doppelmayr Garaventa Group, of which CWA is a member.  The changes I noticed first were the suspension going below the roof line and the bench seats being swapped for individual places (each seat is 18.1 inches or 460 mm wide, more than you’ll find in a typical economy airline seat.)  The V has new ergonomic ski rack choices, two bumper options and wider doors that open to 35 inches (900 mm.)  A single door can hold up to six pairs of powder skis or five with a snowboard lot.  An interior bike rack is also available.

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News Roundup: Next Generation

  • The above $52 million masterpiece and highest-ever 3S opens for business in the shadow of the Matterhorn.
  • The Leitner-Poma Group’s sixth tricable gondola is set to carry commuters between three stations in Toulouse, France from 2020 and will cost $94.5 million to build.
  • Alterra closes on its purchase of Crystal Mountain.
  • A lift operator and his employer, Killingon/Pico, are sued following a loading mishap.
  • An eighth urban gondola line opens in La Paz and carries 72,740 riders on its first day.
  • CWA teases Omega V, the next evolution of the world’s best selling gondola cabin.  While we wait to see what it looks like, check out hundreds of CWA designs from the past 75 years.
  • The Palm Springs Tram gets a new 13,500′ x 45 mm upper haul rope from Fatzer.  Thanks Kirk D. for the photos.
  • Horseshoe Resort’s retired 1989 Doppelmayr detachable quad hits the used market.
  • Whistler Blackcomb’s 2018-19 trail map shows what $52 million worth of new lifts looks like.
  • Read up on Sun Peaks’ new Orient quad here.
  • Lone Mountain Land Company eyes two more lifts on the Spanish Peaks side of Big Sky Resort and nine in Moonlight Basin.
  • Revelstoke’s newspaper looks into rumors of a gondola project on Mt. Begbie.
  • The City of Los Angeles will study two Hollywood gondola ideas.
  • Another Disney Skyliner station is nearly finished with tons of windows.
  • Windham names its new lift Westside Six.  I stopped by last week to check out the progress.

News Roundup: Down to the Wire

  • Beaver Creek renames the Buckaroo Express gondola Haymeadow Express, the name of the double chair which ran in the same alignment from 1980 to 2007.
  • Whether the Hermitage Club closes a $30 million loan to catch up on lift maintenance and operate this winter is still an open question.
  • Arapahoe Basin and Leitner-Poma fly steel for the Beavers project.
  • As of yesterday, Vail Resorts officially operates Okemo, Mt. Sunapee and Crested Butte.
  • Vail reports fiscal 2018 resort EBITDA was $616.6 million, an increase of 3.9 percent over the prior year.  2018-19 season pass sales are up 25 percent in units and 15 percent in dollars as of Sunday.
  • West Mountain adds a million dollar chairlift and looks to build another.
  • A New York-based developer receives one of many approvals for Mayflower Village at Deer Valley, which could eventually mean a slate of new lifts.

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  • Doppelmayr is named in connection with an urban gondola eyed for Long Beach, California.
  • Watch a remarkable 3S gondola launch live from Zermatt at 9:15 Eastern tomorrow morning, 6:15 Pacific.
  • The CFO and COO of Peak Resorts open up about their decision to buy Snow Time and note the three new mountains don’t immediately need much capital investment.
  • The longtime owners of Great Divide, Montana plan to sell to another couple next year.
  • Legendary ski resort builder Les Otten remains committed to The Balsams but laments, “time is killing this project.”
  • Mountain Capital Partners releases more details on the Spider Mountain Bike Park project.
  • The damaged Zugspitze cabin is successfully lowered to the valley for disassembly.  The cable car’s operator says damage exceeds $1.2 million and the lift could reopen by year end.
  • Boreal names its new quad California Cruiser.
  • The latest Leitner-Poma six-pack at Hunter Mountain, seen below, will be called Northern Express.

Peak Resorts to Buy Three Pennsylvania Mountains

Liberty Mountain, Roundtop Mountain and Whitetail Resort will join Peak Resorts before the end of the year, the companies announced this morning.  Privately-held Snow Time Inc. operates the three southern Pennsylvania properties, which generated approximately $11 million in EBITDA last year with more than 600,000 skier visits.  Peak Resorts (SKIS) is traded on the Nasdaq and currently runs 14 mountain resorts in Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Vermont.  The $76 million cash and stock deal represents a multiple of approximately 6.8 times earnings and is expected to close prior to the beginning of the 2018-19 ski season.  Liberty, Roundtop and Whitetail operate a combined 18 lifts, almost all of them built by Doppelmayr and CTEC.

“The transformative acquisition of Snow Time offers a rare opportunity for Peak Resorts to dramatically grow our company by expanding the number of destinations for our Peak Pass holders in the Northeast while growing our presence in the very attractive and densely populated markets of Baltimore and Washington, D.C.,” said Timothy Boyd, President and Chief Executive Officer of Peak Resorts. “Over the course of more than 50 years, Irvin Naylor and his team have established three exceptionally well cared for mountain resorts across the southern tier of Pennsylvania and we are delighted to welcome these wonderful facilities and the Snow Time team to the Peak Resorts family. Furthermore, we expect the addition of these turn-key resorts to our portfolio ahead of the 2018/2019 ski season will result in immediate financial benefits for Peak Resorts.”  The new, larger Peak will total 17 mountains with 109 aerial lifts upon closing.

News Roundup: Not Cheap

  • Above: lots more Ramcharger 8 parts arrive in Big Sky.
  • Schweitzer weighs alignment options and manufacturers for two new backside lifts scheduled for construction in 2019.
  • The only aerial tramway in Texas closes after nearly six decades.  “Replacement of the Wyler Aerial Tramway is estimated to cost millions of dollars.  Texas Parks and Wildlife Department does not have the financial resources to execute a capital construction project of this size at this time.”
  • Disney gives an Orlando TV station a rare official peak into Skyliner construction.
  • Following last week’s mishap, the operator of the Zugspitze Cable Car orders a new 120 passenger cabin, hanger and carriage.
  • Beaver Creek’s big McCoy Park expansion should be official in November and is planned to open in late 2020.
  • The Lewis & Clark bubble high-speed quad at Big Sky will finally see some action in 2021 when a $400 million Montage hotel opens at its base.
  • Ascutney Outdoors is on track to install a T-Bar this fall, anchoring a scaled down version of what was once a five chairlift area.
  • LST builds a T-Bar atop a waste-to-energy plant in Copenhagen for residents to ski on year round.
  • Vail looks to Asia for growth.
  • Michael Doppelmayr is profiled for his 60th birthday.  Some interesting facts: his company’s gross margin was 12.1 percent last year and his father Artur vehemently opposed Doppelmayr’s merger with Garaventa.
  • New York’s high court clears the way for Belleayre to expand into the former Highmount Ski Center.
  • Bretton Woods and Doppelmayr make great progress on New Hampshire’s first 8 passenger gondola.
  • The leaders of North and South Korea ride a pulse gondola during their three day summit.
  • The State of New Hampshire will hold a public meeting about transferring the Mt. Sunapee lease to Vail Resorts on September 26th.
  • As it tries to secure a $30 million loan to open this winter, the Hermitage Club lawsuits keep coming.
  • Two major lifts are getting closer to reality at Copper Mountain.

News Roundup: Working Together

  • It’s not looking good for Mt. Timothy, BC.
  • Two Aspen developers amend their plans to accommodate the new Lift 1 alignment.
  • Horseshoe Resort commits to replacing Chair 6 with a quad in 2019.
  • The Hermitage Club is still trying to ink a reopening deal with members and Oz Real Estate.
  • Powdr breaks ground on Woodward Park City, set to debut with a fixed-grip quad in November 2019.  No word yet on the manufacturer.
  • The Forest Service green lights Aspen Highlands’ Goldenhorn platter project.
  • Peak Resorts posts quarterly results: an $11.8 million net loss on $7 million in revenue as the company worked to build Hunter North and the Carinthia Lodge at Mt. Snow.  SKIS had $10.1 million in cash on hand as of July 31st with $180.6 million in debt.  CEO Tim Boyd says he’s still open to acquiring more mountains.
  • Disney will build and maintain a boat and dock specifically for Skyliner gondola evacuation purposes.
  • Hall double area Navarino Hills, Wisconsin closes for good.
  • With rumors swirling about its future, Black Mountain, NH clarifies it will open this winter.
  • Snow King’s gondola/expansion scoping is extended for the third time to October 4th.
  • A cabin is spotted in one of the Disney World gondola stations.
  • $51 million in new lifts are on track to spin for American Thanksgiving at Whistler Blackcomb.  Thanks Jordan N. for these photos.

Instagram Tuesday: Pouring

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

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News Roundup: Not Cool

Alterra to Acquire Crystal Mountain

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Washington State’s largest ski resort will soon join the Alterra Mountain Company family of resorts.  The big news comes just a year and a half after John Kircher bought out the mountain from his family’s company, Boyne Resorts, which has owned Crystal since 1997.  The resort operates one of the most modern lift fleets in the country in the shadow of Mt. Rainier, less than two hours from Seattle.  Upon closing, Crystal Mountain Resort will join the Ikon Pass, giving Evergreen State passholders access to the two largest ski resorts in the region.  Boyne’s Summit at Snoqualmie signed on just last week offering 5-7 days and access at Crystal will be unlimited with no blackout dates on both the full Ikon and Ikon Base passes.  Alterra’s passes now include 39 mountains with a combined 468 lifts across the US and Canada plus partner resorts in Australia and Japan.  The third major player in the Washington Cascades, Stevens Pass, sold to Vail Resorts for $67 million earlier this year and joined the competing Epic Pass, which also includes nearby Whistler Blackcomb.

“With the addition of Crystal Mountain Resort in Washington, we are able to expand our reach into the Pacific Northwest and offer our guests incredible experiences in the Cascade Mountains, while also giving Crystal Mountain Resort skiers and riders the opportunity to explore all the other premier destinations on the Ikon Pass,” said Rusty Gregory, Chief Executive Officer at Alterra. “Crystal Mountain is Washington’s premier resort and has been a favorite year-round destination for those in the greater Seattle-Tacoma area for years, and we are excited to include it in the Alterra Mountain Company family.”  Crystal’s sale price was not disclosed and the deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Like others before him, Mr. Kircher was probably made an offer he couldn’t refuse.  “It has always been my goal to ensure Crystal Mountain Resort be taken the farthest in the shortest amount of time in order to keep Crystal at the top of Northwest skiing,” he said in a statement. “Alterra Mountain Company is able to offer a depth of experience and resources, as well as inclusion on the Ikon Pass with its outstanding destinations throughout the world. The mountain sports business has changed more in the last year than I have seen it change in my entire 40-year career, and I am excited to see what lays ahead.”

Despite seven out of ten lifts being added or replaced in the last twenty years, Crystal’s master plan envisions more.  The proposed Kelly’s Gap Express would give direct access to the upper mountain from the lower parking lots and open up new runs below Green Valley.  A second new lift on the other side of the access road would open up terrain in Bullion Basin.  A second gondola could also link the base plaza with Campbell Basin.  Crystal’s three oldest lifts – Discovery, Gold Hills and Rainier Express (Washington’s first detachable chairlift) – could also be replaced by Alterra, which has committed to spending more than $550 million at its resorts over the next five years.