Sugarbush to be sold to Alterra

WARREN, Vt. – Sugarbush Resort has entered into an agreement to be sold to Denver-based Alterra Mountain Co., according to an announcement Wednesday, Nov. 13.

Win Smith, president of Sugarbush and CEO of Summit Ventures NE LLC, released a long statement to the skiing community announcing the pending sale. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed. More details will be released once the sale has closed, which is expected in early January subject to regulatory approvals.

Alterra Mountain Co. also owns Stratton in Vermont.

“For me, today is a bit like walking my daughter down the aisle at her wedding. I have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat knowing that I am about to give away someone I have raised and loved,” Smith wrote. “Looking down the aisle, however, I am delighted to see someone waiting who will also love, respect and care for her as I have done. While things will not be the same, I am excited about this next stage of our lives.”

Smith said Summit Ventures NE LLC, which owns the year-round resort in the Mad River Valley, agreed to sell the majority of its Sugarbush assets to Alterra Mountain Co. Alterra owns 14 ski areas in North America and partners with an additional 27 worldwide on their Ikon Pass.

Smith said he was asked to remain on as president “for as long as I wish in order to facilitate a smooth transition.”

In a statement, Rusty Gregory, Alterra CEO, said, “Sugarbush has been a partner on the Ikon Pass since its inception, and we look forward to the opportunities ahead.”

Smith said Alterra is not expecting to replace existing staff.

Smith said there would be a public forum Nov. 20 to discuss the sale. It will begin at 5 p.m. in the Gate House Lodge. He said the forum will be recorded for others to watch later.

Smith said 18 years ago, his family and investors purchased Sugarbush from the American Skiing Co. “with the intention of restoring Sugarbush to what it was when founded by the Gadd, Murphy and Estin families in 1958.”

Smith said the business climate has changed, forcing his decision.

“Over the years of our ownership, we have turned down several offers to sell Sugarbush and have prided ourselves on being independently owned and operated,” Smith wrote. “However, recent events in the ski industry and the challenge of rising costs posed both by climate change and by doing business in Vermont have convinced me that a new owner is needed to ensure a sustainable future for Sugarbush.”

Smith pointed to several challenges in the current skiing industry.

“The multi-resort season pass has changed the landscape. It will be increasingly difficult for ski areas like Sugarbush to compete alone against Vail Resorts, Alterra Mountain Co., and others like POWDR and Boyne Resorts. The recent acquisition of Peak Resorts by Vail was the tipping point in my decision,” he wrote.

Smith said for winter 2019-20, all current Sugarbush Resort products and local passes will be honored as usual, as will golf and health and recreation center passes. Ikon Pass access will not change with seven-day access on the Ikon Pass and five-day access on the Ikon Base Pass. He said Sugarbush will remain part of the Mountain Collective. Any pass product changes will be considered after the closing in January and before spring pass sales begin, he said.

“I never thought I would become an employee again, but I am excited to do so because I believe in Alterra Mountain Co. and its mission, I believe in our Sugarbush team, I love our community, and I am bullish about our future together,” Smith said.

Sugarbush is a year-round mountain destination with two distinct mountains – Mount Ellen and Lincoln Peak – that are joined by a 2-mile high-speed quad.

Since 2001, Sugarbush has invested $74 million in mountain improvements including seven new lifts, significant upgrades to its snowmaking system, and the revitalization of the Lincoln Peak Base area, complete with the Clay Brook Hotel and Residences and the Gate House Lodge, two skier services buildings, the Farmhouse and Schoolhouse, and new slopeside residences.

Alterra mountain destinations are spread throughout six states and three Canadian provinces: Steamboat and Winter Park Resort in Colorado; Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain and Big Bear Mountain Resort in California; Snowshoe in West Virginia; Tremblant in Quebec, Blue Mountain in Ontario; Crystal Mountain in Washington; Deer Valley Resort and Solitude Mountain Resort in Utah; and CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures in British Columbia.

Alterra was created when affiliates of KSL Capital Partners, owners of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, and affiliates of Henry Crown and Co. purchased Intrawest, Mammoth Resorts, Deer Valley Resort in 2017, plus Solitude Mountain Resort and Crystal Mountain in 2018.

Article courtesy of Rutland Herald

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