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Vail Resorts to Acquire Kirkwood - Page 2

post #31 of 71

Here is something I think is humorous, if not downright funny....

 

Do any of those people who want to compare Vail Resorts with KSL even have an idea who KSL is?

 

Let's start with the names- Henry Kravis, Mike Shannon, and Larry Lichliter.

 

Hmmm... could these people be the same Mike Shannon, former President of Vail Associates under George Gillette, or Larry Lichliter, former VP of Vail Mtn Operations, also under George Gillette? And of course, Henry Kravis was a partner in Bear Stearns, who was a major funding source for George Gillette to purchase Vail back in 1985.

 

So, any chance there may still be a connection? I'll let you draw your own conclusions on that...

 

But then there is Booth Creek, previous owners of Northstar. How about these names... George Gillette (yes, the same former owner of Vail), Chris Ryman (yes, the same former VP of Operations for Vail), and several others, formerly of Vail Associates/Vail Resorts.

 

Does anyone not understand the background connections that exist within the ski industry?

 

So, I guess I find it amusing that most people do not understand that a great number of major resorts in North America have all been under the control of but a few individuals for quite some time!

 

BTW- be on the lookout for another announcement from Vail Resorts in the not-to-distant future.....  VR is currently looking to expand internationally!

post #32 of 71

Interesting VSP.  What surprised me in this transaction, is MTN left much of the developable land in Kirkwood Development Corp and got only a few acres for themselves.  I agree with your previous guess that property values are relatively cheap right now at KW and have a lot of upside potential with this transition.  I suspect that the very low price tag of $18MM was made possible because longer-term gains on the property stake is seen as the most valuable aspect of this transaction.

post #33 of 71

Soooo excited that my old home mountain is now going to be free to go visit with my Epic Pass.  Not as jazzed that my friends' season passes are about to jump up, though.  I hope they can still forge their college registrations to get the $200 snow bomb passes, but I'm doubting it.

post #34 of 71

Anyone know whether Kirkwood has announced an expected closing date for 2012?   I can't find a closing date forecast on their web site, though Kirkwood does list mountain events on their calendar through April 25.

 

I have an Epic Local Pass this year, bought primarily for the summit county mountains.   The addition of Kirkwood to the Tahoe locations already included on the Epic pass suddenly has me considering a late-season trip out west this year.  Most days, my favorite Epic Pass mountain is A-Basin---Kirkwood sounds to me like the California counterpart to Arapahoe Basin...

 

Bob 

 

 

post #35 of 71

I hadn't even considered that before - now with Kirkwood on the epic pass, the season will last that much longer since typically KWood closes a few weeks after N*/Heavenly.

post #36 of 71

I hope they still offer the 6wood or something similar for next year, i'm starting to see the upside and i'll be road tripping to summit county in the distant future.  We are planning for another baby next year so i think travel will be limited for a while.

post #37 of 71

Author Jeremy Evans, who wrote In Search of Powder: A Story of America's Disappearing Ski Bum wrote a guest post sharing his thoughts on the recent acquisition.

 

 

Ski Area Reality: Corporatocracy Strikes Again

 

MRA Blog, February 23, 2012

 

post #38 of 71

Now that Vail Resorts has Kirkwood's future, of major interest is what they might do for the resort.  I've already mentioned above a backside express lift but there is more with the following a start.

 

This is old 2007 news but I noticed some environmentalists have been active again trying to stop any Tahoe ski resort expansions.  I've been a long time environmentally active person but the fact is Northern California has had groups of alpine ski resort haters, often supported by the Sierra Club I was a member of for years, ever since the early days.  They basicly hate any development and use every legal and media monkeywrench at their disposal without concern for being reasonable.  All mountain communities and infrastructure needs to continue to improve environmental impacts but such needs to be a balance. Snippet from:

 

http://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/article_d1351a83-dc9d-588b-ae3a-2acb2f835550.html#ixzz1nGiw88El

 

And more from that group's own site:

 

http://www.foothillconservancy.org/pages/focus1.cgi?magicatid=&magi_detail=17&magid=1

 

Environmentalists are upset that the resort has proposed a restaurant on Caples Crest in Eldorado National Forest, which they say will be visible from the neighboring Mokelumne Wilderness. To help win Forest Service approval, the resort said it agreed to strictly limit the height, hours and lighting.  But Katherine Evatt, board president of the Foothill Conservancy, remains opposed. "National forests were not created to provide a fine dining experience."
--------------------------

 

Usual weak grabbing at whatever arguments. I hike and backpack into Mokelumne Wilderness almost every year.  The noise and visibility of highway traffic over Carson Pass on SR88 is much closer to areas 98% of visitors use  that is from the pass to Winnemucca Lake than the ski resort that is also behind a low ridge, while lift towers for all 3 of KW's highest lifts are even higher than the top of Caples Crest and even more visible.    A day lodge up there is a reasonable idea consistent with what is already the situation.

 

As for parking issues, that could be mitigated by expanding the resort as plans long ago were proposed with fascilities and lifts from Martin Point towards Martin Meadow 1600 feet below.  Martin Meadow is not the same type of grassland meadow as the much larger and sensitive Kirkwood Meadows, but rather a low gradient volcanic geology plain.  Quite capable on both sides of highway 88 for supporting parking and fascilities.  The reason this was floated years ago was because Carson Spur also on that map link just 1/2 mile up the road is the most avalanche prone winter highway section in the state that often closes during and after storms blocking customer access from the west.   And that side of the ridge would provide some excellent mid intermediate gradient terrain that the resort is below average with besides lots more powder areas for we advanced skiers.  Additionally would be a boon to skiing Kirkwood later in the afternoon mid winter as the present resort ridge orientation tends to make afternoon skiing dimly shady.

 

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=38.69110,-120.10202&z=15&t=T

 

Some old news about KW's environmental initiatives:

 

http://www.yubanet.com/artman/publish/article_68896.shtml


Edited by dave_SSS - 2/23/12 at 9:03pm
post #39 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by vail snopro View Post

 

 

BTW- be on the lookout for another announcement from Vail Resorts in the not-to-distant future.....  VR is currently looking to expand internationally!



Please tell me it's not Las Leñas.

post #40 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by vail snopro View Post

Here is something I think is humorous, if not downright funny....

 

Do any of those people who want to compare Vail Resorts with KSL even have an idea who KSL is?

 

Let's start with the names- Henry Kravis, Mike Shannon, and Larry Lichliter.

 

Hmmm... could these people be the same Mike Shannon, former President of Vail Associates under George Gillette, or Larry Lichliter, former VP of Vail Mtn Operations, also under George Gillette? And of course, Henry Kravis was a partner in Bear Stearns, who was a major funding source for George Gillette to purchase Vail back in 1985.

 

So, any chance there may still be a connection? I'll let you draw your own conclusions on that...

 

But then there is Booth Creek, previous owners of Northstar. How about these names... George Gillette (yes, the same former owner of Vail), Chris Ryman (yes, the same former VP of Operations for Vail), and several others, formerly of Vail Associates/Vail Resorts.

 

Does anyone not understand the background connections that exist within the ski industry?

 

So, I guess I find it amusing that most people do not understand that a great number of major resorts in North America have all been under the control of but a few individuals for quite some time!

 

BTW- be on the lookout for another announcement from Vail Resorts in the not-to-distant future.....  VR is currently looking to expand internationally!


Henry Kravis left Bear Stearns in 1976 and is a founding partner of KKR.  I don't know if he was a funding source for George Gillette or not (if Bear Stears was the funding source in the 80s, then Kravis was not).  

 

post #41 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by soulskier View Post



Please tell me it's not Las Leñas.


I have not skied in the U.S. since the mid 1990s so I have no feel for the impact of these mega mergers on resorts.  I'm no fan of the Vail approach to resort development (Vail itself is ugly and tacky) but what is their track record when they take over other resorts?  Do they improve the infrastructure and leave the rest of the resort unchanged or do they try to re-shape the resort in the image and likeness of Vail?

post #42 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by chraya View Post


I have not skied in the U.S. since the mid 1990s so I have no feel for the impact of these mega mergers on resorts.  I'm no fan of the Vail approach to resort development (Vail itself is ugly and tacky) but what is their track record when they take over other resorts?  Do they improve the infrastructure and leave the rest of the resort unchanged or do they try to re-shape the resort in the image and likeness of Vail?



Both Heavenly and Northstar have been developed and most would say improved under Vail Resorts management. 

post #43 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by vail snopro View Post

Here is something I think is humorous, if not downright funny....

 

Do any of those people who want to compare Vail Resorts with KSL even have an idea who KSL is?

 

Let's start with the names- Henry Kravis, Mike Shannon, and Larry Lichliter.

 

Hmmm... could these people be the same Mike Shannon, former President of Vail Associates under George Gillette, or Larry Lichliter, former VP of Vail Mtn Operations, also under George Gillette? And of course, Henry Kravis was a partner in Bear Stearns, who was a major funding source for George Gillette to purchase Vail back in 1985.

 

So, any chance there may still be a connection? I'll let you draw your own conclusions on that...

 

But then there is Booth Creek, previous owners of Northstar. How about these names... George Gillette (yes, the same former owner of Vail), Chris Ryman (yes, the same former VP of Operations for Vail), and several others, formerly of Vail Associates/Vail Resorts.

 

Does anyone not understand the background connections that exist within the ski industry?

 

So, I guess I find it amusing that most people do not understand that a great number of major resorts in North America have all been under the control of but a few individuals for quite some time!

 

BTW- be on the lookout for another announcement from Vail Resorts in the not-to-distant future.....  VR is currently looking to expand internationally!

the "Barbarians at the Gate" Henry Kravis?  Surprised he would be interested in something as small time as a ski area.  Good book though; even though it took place at the height of the previous buy-out bubble, back when junk bonds were financing everything, it is still pretty relevant today. 
 

 

Full selection of 2014 skis available right now from Dawgcatching.com.  PM for current deals and discount codes: save up to 25% on mid-season deals. 

Reply
post #44 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by chraya View Post


I have not skied in the U.S. since the mid 1990s so I have no feel for the impact of these mega mergers on resorts.  I'm no fan of the Vail approach to resort development (Vail itself is ugly and tacky) but what is their track record when they take over other resorts?  Do they improve the infrastructure and leave the rest of the resort unchanged or do they try to re-shape the resort in the image and likeness of Vail?



I think it just follows the natural plan of what the resort had in mind already.  They have a big checkbook and are willing to spend ($30M spent on northstar 1st summer), but the "reshaping" I don't think happens, it's more like the existing and remaining management gets to brings their christmas list to their rich uncle.

 

That being said, higher prices for everything is expected and no budging on that pricing, so you now have to plan ahead to stay frugal.  They do have full time crew of people hired to take surveys from guests day-in and day-out, so ultimately they want customer satisfaction, then once you have the customers, the profits will follow.

post #45 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post

the "Barbarians at the Gate" Henry Kravis?  Surprised he would be interested in something as small time as a ski area.  Good book though; even though it took place at the height of the previous buy-out bubble, back when junk bonds were financing everything, it is still pretty relevant today. 
 

 


(re:my bold text above) probably more a personal passion or interest rather than a true investment?  Similar to owning sports teams I would think (more ego-stoke than $ returns).

 

post #46 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by GettingThere View Post


(re:my bold text above) probably more a personal passion or interest rather than a true investment?  Similar to owning sports teams I would think (more ego-stoke than $ returns).

 



It is more than just ego.  Ego makes you the big US Ski Team donor so you can meet the racers and hobnob with those that run the show.  Altruism?  Not by purchasing a ski area.  Leaving a legacy, using capital to improve an asset and having fun while doing so?  Absolutely!   That is why great land is being bought up and improved.  Part of the motivation is profit, but there is a lot more to it than that.  If profit were the only concern why would anyone own a business dependent upon mother nature? 

post #47 of 71

Agree with the Kirkwood parking analysis, but not so much with North Star.  If you get to NS by 8:00 AM you can park right next to the village and skip the whole bus deal.  I know getting there by 8:00 AM can be tough (i live in South Bay), but is worth it.  Also more often then not the lift right behind the gondola is open with no line, even when the line for gondola is half way up the hill.  Here you also save good 1/2 hour (not to mention that by now it's 8:20 ish and there probably isn't a line for the gondola either), which then saves you from doing the "rowing" from the gondola to one of the lifts.  The catwalk/Tbar to the steep stuff can't really be avoided, unless you are part of that club (whatever it's called) and you park at Martis :).

 

A lot of this depends on getting there early, perhaps why I end up going solo so much (either buddies don't want to get up that early, or I am frustrated w/ waiting around for them so I just go).  8:50 pm... still deciding whether to hit up Kirk tomorrow :), at least I won't have to leave at 4:30am to get a good parking spot.

post #48 of 71

Days like today when the wind is up on the Sierra Crest summit, having three resorts to pick from will be great. I've been at Rose excusivly for the last 10 years but, with their new wind policy, (no high speed lifts with winds over 35 mph) they have been shut down a ton this year. Next year I will buy an unlimited pass for N/H/K and a value pass (or whatever name for Rose). Life's to short to miss days skiing on your days off.

post #49 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by CaliSki 
Agree with the Kirkwood parking analysis, but not so much with North Star.  If you get to NS by 8:00 AM you can park right next to the village and skip the whole bus deal.  I know getting there by 8:00 AM can be tough (i live in South Bay), but is worth it.  Also more often then not the lift right behind the gondola is open with no line, even when the line for gondola is half way up the hill.  Here you also save good 1/2 hour (not to mention that by now it's 8:20 ish and there probably isn't a line for the gondola either), which then saves you from doing the "rowing" from the gondola to one of the lifts.

We always go super early and have never ever needed the bus. Best place to park at N* is second row of parking right next to home run, you can then ski down to the highlands gondola and skip the village walk all together. If you need to purchase a pass you can do that at the ritz when you get off the gondola, they will let you up the gondola regardless.


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post #50 of 71

VR is currently looking to expand internationally!Vail resorts 001.jpg

post #51 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by soulskier View Post



Both Heavenly and Northstar have been developed and most would say improved under Vail Resorts management. 


Snowmaking was handy this year, and the Promised Land Lift and new day lodge were, imo, steps in the right direction. 

 

 

 

post #52 of 71

VR, Kwood and the planning authority will be meeting soon: one issue is keeping Kwood's soul. That needs a Devil's Advocate, and I know one

post #53 of 71

The Kirkwood vibe, and it has some inherent incompatibilities with the Vail Resorts business model.  Season passes and ticket discounts have made Kirkwood one of the least expensive resorts to enjoy, while being one of the most expensive to operate.  Access over winter pass closures cut the resort off in the best weather, and self-generated power was unreliable and expensive.  Out of all of this, the resort center is a small enclave of shops and restaurants that appeal to mostly a day crowd, while at the same time, a huge percentage of patrons are brown-bagging it or eating in time-shares and condos.  Kirkwood development has been fought by environmental groups at every turn as they are surrounded by National Forests and the Mokolumne Wilderness.  Most Vail Resorts look like a city to me in comparison.

 

The skiing in and around Kirkwood is amazing.  What is the nature of a Devil's Advocate?

post #54 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post

 What is the nature of a Devil's Advocate?

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devil's_advocate

post #55 of 71

In the Spanish Inquisition, witches and heretics were represented legally by a Jesuit dubbed The Devil's Advocate. They got witches off the hook. By anology in the battle for Kirkwood's soul,  it needs a Devil's Advocate

post #56 of 71

From Wikipedia:

 

 

During the canonization process of the Roman Catholic Church, the Promoter of the Faith (Latinpromotor fidei), popularly known as the Devil's advocate (Latin: advocatus diaboli), was a canon lawyer appointed by Church authorities to argue against the canonization of a candidate.[1] It was this person’s job to take a skeptical view of the candidate's character, to look for holes in the evidence, to argue that any miracles attributed to the candidate were fraudulent, and so on. The Devil's advocate opposed God's advocate (Latin: advocatus Dei; also known as the Promoter of the Cause), whose task was to make the argument in favor of canonization. This task is now performed by the Promoter of Justice(promotor iustitiae), who is in charge of examining how accurate is the inquiry on the saintliness of the candidate.

The office was established in 1587 during the reign of Pope Sixtus V and abolished by Pope John Paul II in 1983.[2] This reform changed the canonization process considerably, helping John Paul II to usher in an unprecedented number of elevations: nearly 500 individuals were canonized and over 1,300 were beatified during his tenure as Pope as compared to only 98 canonizations by all his 20th-century predecessors. In cases of controversy the Vatican may still seek to informally solicit the testimony of critics of a candidate for canonization. The British-American columnist Christopher Hitchens was famously asked to testify against the beatification of Mother Teresa in 2002, a role he would later describe as being akin to "representing the Evil One, as it were, pro bono".[3]


Quote:
Originally Posted by veteran View Post

In the Spanish Inquisition, witches and heretics were represented legally by a Jesuit dubbed The Devil's Advocate. They got witches off the hook. By anology in the battle for Kirkwood's soul,  it needs a Devil's Advocate



 

post #57 of 71

Yes, but what do people mean by stating that Kirkwood needs one of these? 

 

A Kirkwood loyal who will fight tooth and nail to keep it funky but woefully underfunded?  Cheap lift tickets but also cheap facilities? As Cirque mentioned, it is expensive to operate.  At the very least it needs modern infrastructure to put in place more energy efficienct facilities.   In my opinion it needs a day lodge that isn't so far away from the Village, where most of the lifts are. 

 

The "soul" of the place is more likely about the skiers who go there.  That, to some extent, may be influenced by how Vail Resorts prices tickets, treats their staff (and by extension treats the skiers) and by the physicial environment.   That said, how much that changes the soul of a place remains to be seen.  The hard-core funky vibe people will probably still go to Kirkwood, they might just complain about how everything's changed. But I bet it stays funky, relative to other areas.

post #58 of 71

What is the likelyhood of the fine print impacting the availability of Kirkwood (not sure if everyone reads the fine print on when purchasing the pass).  What regulators actually look at this?

 

"Access to Kirkwood is subject to regulatory approval of the acquisition."

 

 

post #59 of 71

My 2 cents is everyone says kirkwood is going to lose their "soul", but without actually being able to really describe in  actionable terms what it is they are unhappy about or scared of losing.  That's why it reverts to these philosophical or religious terms.

 

The same happens when small companies get bought out; or even in general job disgruntlement.  If your boss says asks "What you are unhappy about?" and you say "your soul", what is it you want him to do?  If you can quantify and actually describe what exactly what is troubling you and what you want, that's the first step in holding on to it.

Same as the occupy movement.  It's been so long time, but nobody has presented reasonable changes they want to do, just idealistic terms.

 

Is the kirkwood "soul" just having overcrowded bathrooms that don't work? and lifts that shut down? Then that's just comradarie from being a funky podunk shared crisis/experience, and reveals some selfishness in not wanting to share with others.  

 

On another note; 

From the facebook page, I read a pretty heated post from a Kirkwood passholder complaining about Vail/Heavenly gapers coming in and treating the poor kirkwood locals poorly with their snobby Heavenly/Vail attitude.  

Response from another facebook user (who was longtime passholder to both resorts) was pretty apt in responding that what that that post really reveals is that this particular Kirkwood poster is the mean-spirited and snobby one.  Just because they paid for passes for a few years, does he feel they are entitled to the whole mountain or to be treated better than a Heavenly/Vail skier.  If they have a trailmap out on the lift, and asking how to get back to the bathroom, or what's a good run, is he going to answer them or ignore them because they're a noob from Heavenly/Vail?  No one really is the douchebag European villain from 80s ski movies, so this is just a mythical bogeyman.

 

 

(posts were deleted, but i hope i captured the gist of the argument).  

 

The same happens in every college rivalry.  They think they hate the other school, but actually most rivalries come from very geographically close schools, where the people in reality turn out to be much more similar than different.

 

That got me thinking, that yea that's right.  Seriously, it's not like kirkwood is a co-op where passholders shed tears, sweat,and blood where they have to put in some hours of manual labor during the offseason in exchange for access.  They're just patrons pretty much the same as other patrons, all they did was paid money for passes over a few years.  


Edited by raytseng - 4/4/12 at 12:20pm
post #60 of 71

I guess I understand them in a way.  Kirk was the resort they went to year over year and they liked it they way it was (affordable, probably shortest drive and decent terrain, and they did not mind the occasional power outage, long restroom lines or taking an extra lift and a short run to get to the day lodge).  Regardless of what it was they were used the way things were and they liked it.  Now there will be changes, and let's face it, no one likes those.  I've had the Vail pass the past few seasons and have always gone to Kirkwood a couple of times/year.  I've never felt mistreated or disrespected.

 

There are rumors that the patrols guys do not like giving "courtesy rides" to those who end up on a wrong run.  I guess they hadn't done it in the past, and now Vail is asking them to do it.  This is obviously a big change for them, and I again understand them.  If you go up a lift that clearly has crossed skulls and signs that say the lift services steep terrain you may not want to go on it if you are unsure.    You mentioned a small company getting bought out by a big one, this is a perfect example, all of a sudden the employees are being asked to clean up someone else's mess...

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