Peak Resorts’ IPO leads ski areas into improvement season

Off-season improvements are beginning with a bang in Vermont, where two new chairs and a shiny new mid-lodge are planned at three different ski areas. And that's not all, as SNEWS takes a look at what else will be brand new next year.

It’s already shaping up to be a busy off-season in Vermont, where at least two new chairlifts and one new lodge will be installed this summer, and one resort operator has filed for an IPO to help pay for it all.

On April 19, 2011, Peak Resorts, which owns Mount Snow, filed for a $40.3 million initial public offering of its common stock. In a prospectus for the IPO, Peak said proceeds would be used to repay debt for development costs at the resort. Peak acquired Mont Snow for $73.5 million in 2007. And on March 5 the company announced plans to build a high-speed six-pack bubble chair to the summit of the area. Peak Resorts owns or leases 11 other ski areas in the U.S.

The Vermont market has been the second hottest for announced new developments so far this season, though still a far cry behind the $80 million that Vail Resorts and KSL Capital plan to sink into Northstar-at-Tahoe and Squaw Valley, their respective new holdings in California’s Tahoe region in the next five years. Just days before Peak announced its IPO strategy, Killington Resort announced plans for a new $7 million mid-mountain lodge. And just two weeks prior to that, Stowe Mountain Resort announced plans to replace the FourRunner chair with a new high-speed quad servicing its famed Mount Mansfield terrain.

At Killington (pictured right), the Peak Lodge will be replaced with a new multilevel 22,000 square-foot restaurant and meeting facility at the 4,100-foot level of Killington Peak. “Our primary goal is to replace the existing facility with a building designed to provide optimal views from nearly any point inside the building and the exterior design to blend itself to the preexisting location on the landscape,” said Chris Nyberg, president and general manager of Killington/Pico Ski Resort Partners, LLC. On the hill, Killington is buying three new Prinoth groomers, 150 new snowguns, and pruning trees and clearing new growth from its runs and glades.


In other development news, Idaho’s Bogus Basin plans to replace its Chair 3, a two-seater lift that was first installed in 1964! The new quad will not only double the seating capacity, but will also cut the ride time in half, down from nine minutes to a little more than four. Bogus will have to raise its famous $199 season pass rate to pay for the chair, however, but not until the 2012 season, when rates will jump to $229…The Aspen Skiing Co. is still seeking approvals to build a high-speed, four-passenger chair at Tiehack. According to the Aspen Times, The Maroon Creek Subdivision Homeowners Association voted Tuesday to sign an agreement with the company, granting an easement and also providing a financial contribution for construction of the new chair. Homeowner’s association president Leonard Lansburgh told the Times, “We are contributing a significant amount. It’s an improvement to the mountain. That’s how our homeowners looked at it.”…And back in Vermont, utility regulators have given the OK for a wind turbine at Burke Mountain ski resort. The Caledonian-Record says the turbine will generate about 15 percent of the electricity needed to run the resort.–Peter Kray

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