Sugarbush Joins Alterra Mountain Company FAQ
WHAT IS OCCURRING?
Summit Ventures NE LLC (“Summit”) has agreed to sell all of its Sugarbush assets to Alterra Mountain Company other than the four unsold Gadd Brook units. The sale is subject to regulatory approval, but we expect to close on or about January 7, 2020.
WHY HAVE WE DECIDED TO SELL TO ALTERRA MOUNTAIN COMPANY?
While we just completed a record year and are financially sound, three things concern us about our future sustainability.
1). The Multi-Resort Pass is a trend that is firmly in place, and we are beginning to see migration from our pass products to them. As one of few remaining Eastern ski resorts with 250,000 or more skier visits, we do not believe that we can be sustainable in the long term if we are not part of one of these programs. Our partnership with the Ikon Pass worked well last year, and we want assurance of that for the future. The recent acquisition of Peak Resorts (which owns Mount Snow in Vermont and 16 others in New Hampshire and elsewhere) by Vail Resorts was the tipping point in our decision to sell to Alterra Mountain Company
2). Climate Change and increasing competition from larger and well-capitalized competitors will require us to spend even more on capital projects in the years ahead. While we have made significant improvements to our snowmaking system in recent years, we will need to make even greater ones in the years ahead to increase both our snowmaking efficiency and capacity. Looking at our five-year capital requests, these investments will be difficult to achieve on our own.
3). Growing Cost of Doing Business in Vermont is an increasing competitive challenge. While there are many wonderful things about our state, high property taxes, growing fees, increasing utility tariffs, sales tax on equipment, and other legislative agendas place us at a competitive disadvantage with resorts in other states and mean that we need to find other ways to offset these growing expenses. Being part of Alterra Mountain Company will allow us to leverage their purchasing power on equipment and find ways to lower costs like workers’ compensation and health insurance without decreasing the benefits to our employees. Additionally, we will be part of a family of destinations where we will be able to share ideas and best practices and where our employees may have career opportunities beyond what can be achieved at Sugarbush alone.
WHO IS ALTERRA MOUNTAIN COMPANY?
Alterra Mountain Company, founded two years ago, is a family of 14 iconic year-round destinations including the world’s largest heli-ski operation. The company also owns and operates a range of recreation, hospitality, real estate development, food and beverage, retail, and service businesses. Headquartered in Denver, Colorado with destinations across the continent, Alterra Mountain Company is “rooted in the spirit of the mountains and united by a passion for outdoor adventure.”
Alterra Mountain Company’s family of diverse playgrounds spans six U.S. 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; Stratton in Vermont; 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. Also included in the portfolio is Alpine Aerotech, a worldwide helicopter support and maintenance service center in British Columbia, Canada.
WHAT IS THE CONNECTION TO THE IKON PASS?
In January 2018, Alterra Mountain Company introduced the Ikon Pass for winter 18/19, the new standard in season passes. The Ikon Pass now offers skiers and riders access to 41 mountain destinations throughout the Americas, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, including 14 Alterra Mountain Company destinations plus 27 global partner destinations. For more information, please visit www.alterramtnco.com.
At each destination, Alterra Mountain Company leaders are empowered to be decisive, creative, and bold in order to retain each mountain’s authentic character. Recognizing the innate value of the unique culture found at each of the mountain communities, Alterra Mountain Company’s goal is to preserve, sustain, and support its two most important resources: the mountains and the people who live and play in them.
Many of us at Sugarbush have gotten to know the Alterra Mountain Company leadership team well over the past couple of years, and we respect the culture they are creating and their approach to the business. The leadership at Alterra Mountain Company respects what Sugarbush’s team has accomplished, and they understand the importance of our values and culture as well as our support of the Mad River Valley community. Alterra Mountain Company also has numerous resources that our team at Sugarbush will benefit from such as IT, legal, and marketing.
Today we believe that Alterra Mountain Company is the best next custodian for Sugarbush.
WHAT IS NOT CHANGING?
Just about everything! Win will remain as President and continue to oversee daily operations at Sugarbush for the foreseeable future. All members of our Executive Team and all employees in good standing will continue in their roles. Our Mission Statement remains the same as do our seven values. Neither our plans nor our budgets for the year will change. Our employee policies will be the same. Our commitment to the environment and to the Mad River Valley community will not change.
HOW ARE SUGARBUSH PASS PRODUCTS IMPACTED, INCLUDING IKON PASS AND MOUNTAIN COLLECTIVE?
Our current pass products will stay the same for the 19/20 season, including Golf and Health & Recreation Center passes. Ikon passholders will be able to ski at Sugarbush for 7 days, and the Ikon Base passholders will be able to ski here 5 days with certain holiday blackouts just as last season. We will still be part of The Mountain Collective, and all employees and premium passholders continue to be able to ski at other Mountain Collective resorts at 50% off the day ticket price. Our partnership with Mad River Glen on the Double Major Pass and the For-20s add-on continues as well.
WILL THERE BE MORE CROWDS AT SUGARBUSH?
Last season Ikon Pass visitors represented only 6% of our skier visits. We would have expected more visits this year given the increase in Ikon Pass sales, but we do not expect a huge increase. The majority of our skier visits have always come from Sugarbush passholders. Our 16 lifts, which have a vertical hourly capacity of over 24,000 people, and our vast terrain, handle the volume of skiers we saw last year as well as any mountain.
WILL ANY WINTER OPERATING PLANS CHANGE?