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Are ski areas white elephants? - Page 2

post #31 of 34
In some cases, a big insurance bill may have been the final straw, but what fundamentally drove most of the "mom 'n' pop" areas out of business is competition from snazzier areas. This doesn't just include areas nearby, but the really big destination resort area. For a huge piece of the skiing population, "skiing" means getting on a plane and flying off to Aspen or some such place, not driving to the local area.

That said, there are still small areas left in some parts of the country. I've mentioned some of them in previous posts: Loup Loup (1 chair, 1 poma, 1 rope tow), Hurricane Ridge (1 poma, 2 ropes), 49 Degrees North, Mt. Spokane, Mt. Ashland. They survive, though I doubt any of them rakes in big money. The reason they survive is that they're far enough away from the population centers that can support a snazzier local ski area, and have a local following interested in outdoor fun but lacking the means to afford frequent trips to big resorts.
post #32 of 34
Originally Posted by ant
I reckon I could turn a profit. The trick would be to own it outright, or as part of a group of owner/users/staff, and NO shareholders. No hungry shareholders with their mouths open peeping for more money.
Yes! The MRG co-op idea - user owned - is one way, but employee owned is another way. The paycheck is the profit.

Other than that, what Weems said.
post #33 of 34
The concept is great. We certaily need more ski resorts of guality.

However, to do such a resort would most likely reguire it being build in the western state regions and most likely in areas of US forest land. There lies the problem. Starting with the Forest permits and once you start the paper work and hearings, every tree hugger orginization around is going to do everything in there power to stop the development.

I can name a dozen resorts right now that a big chunk of there operating budget goes to dealing with these issues.

Maybe Wyoming would be a good place, but then accessibility falls into the equation.
post #34 of 34
A brand new resort in a new location is close to un-doable in the US. The sunk cost of the environmental engineering etc. needed just to produce a final EIS runs into the millions, and you still may not get a permit ... and at that point, you still haven't actually built anything.

Some ski areas have, or did have, a variant of co-operative ownership. It generally doesn't work very well, because it's too difficult to raise capital ... unless you can get a few thousand people to sign up to a deal that obligates them to capital calls that may run into the thousands of dollars.

Interestingly, co-operative ownership of exactly the sort contemplated (ownership by users, without profit) is common in a somewhat similar type of enterprise: golf and country clubs. A ski area could work that way, but I don't think what you'd wind up with would look a lot like what some of those here are thinking of.

I'm not sure how employee-owned could work. Relatively speaking, ski areas require lots of capital and not that many employees, the bulk of which are unskilled, seasonal, short-term and young. The typical ski area employee doesn't have hundreds, or even tens of thousands of dollars to invest, whether out of his pocket or out of his retirement plan. The only way to capitalize an employee-owned area would be with huge leverage ... at which point the holders of the debt would be mouths both hungrier and more insistent than any shareholder you could imagine, and the first even slightly bad snow year would put you out of business.
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