POCAHONTAS COUNTY, W.Va. — “Overwhelmingly positive” is how the president and chief operating officer at Snowshoe Mountain Resort in Pocahontas County describes his response to the site’s sale which is part of a $1.5 billion acquisition of Intrawest Resorts.
The new owners are Aspen Skiing Company and KSL Capital Partners out of Denver, Colorado, according to a Monday announcement.
“We’re excited to have some pretty strong new partners to be teamed up with, partners who we think are going to help us be able to support our growth and guest service improvements,” Frank DeBerry, Snowshoe’s president, told MetroNews. “It’s terrific.”
The sale is the latest in a series for Intrawest which, in addition to Snowshoe Mountain, includes Blue Mountain in Ontario, Mont Tremblant in Quebec, Steamboat and Winter Park, both in Colorado, Vermont’s Stratton and Canadian Mountain Holidays, a large heli-skiing operation.
In February, Softbank Group Corporation, a Japanese telecommunications company, acquired Intrawest from the previous owner, Fortress Investment Group, for $3.3 billion.
DeBerry said Fortress had continued to invest in capital improvements at Snowshoe even after beginning to explore a potential sale last fall.
With the sale, “This is just something that I would classify (as) from secure to exciting,” DeBerry said.
“It is really too early to speculate on any of that,” he said when asked about how the transition process to new ownership would play out at Snowshoe.
“Intrawest is going to remain Intrawest. Intrawest is going to have new ownership and we’re just, at this time, excited that they’re very strong players in the ski industry. Everyone involved is passionate about skiing and riding and they have both the interest and resources to help us grow.”
Of Snowshoe’s place within Intrawest, “I think new ownership will recognize that every one of our resorts has unique properties,” DeBerry said.
“Intrawest is a collection of remarkable properties in exceptional locations. Each has its own unique story and its own unique sense of place,” said Eric Resnick, KSL chief executive officer, in a statement.
“We are committed to honoring the deep traditions of each resort while working with Intrawest’s talented management team and employees to continue to serve both their guests and local communities.”
In all, KSL has controlling interests in hotel and resort properties totaling $7.5 billion.
Aspen Skiing Company operates four Colorado sites: Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk, home to ESPN’s Winter X Games.
The acquisition of Intrawest, also based in Denver, lets Aspen expand to better compete with Vail Resorts, an industry behemoth.
“If someone was going to make me pick another job tomorrow it would be to work with Aspen Ski Company,” DeBerry said. “I think that says a lot about how excited I am that they are now part of what we do.”
After a “rather difficult winter,” in DeBerry’s words, the summer season begins at Snowshoe on May 1 with the opening of The Raven Golf Club. Summer events begin in earnest on Memorial Day Weekend.