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ASC Sells Sunday River and Sugarloaf to Boyne USA

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Two more eastern resorts owned by ASC have been sold. This time to Boyne USA. MI and ME go together anyway right?

This doesn't affect us in CA too much. How about you? Thoughts?
http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/070605/20070605006411.html?.v=1

I had no idea that Boyne was involved in so many resorts: Big Sky Resort in Montana; Boyne Mountain, Boyne Highlands and Bay Harbor in Michigan; Brighton in Utah; Crystal Mountain in Washington and Cypress Mountain in British Columbia, Canada.
post #2 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post
Two more eastern resorts owned by ASC have been sold. This time to Boyne USA. MI and ME go together anyway right?

This doesn't affect us in CA too much. How about you? Thoughts?
http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/070605/20070605006411.html?.v=1

I had no idea that Boyne was involved in so many resorts: Big Sky Resort in Montana; Boyne Mountain, Boyne Highlands and Bay Harbor in Michigan; Brighton in Utah; Crystal Mountain in Washington and Cypress Mountain in British Columbia, Canada.
I was aware of their holdings, primarily because I was looking at the benefits of a season pass with them. They have a decent list of "other resorts" you can get discounts at when you're a season pass holder.
If you watch a good share of the Warren Miller movies you'll see blurps about Crystal mountain being a Boyne holding, and many times you'll see Boyne Mt as a feature. Again, I notice because its close to home.

I think they try to do well to improve their holdings. Hope this makes for a good season for the places they just acquired.
post #3 of 28
More on Boyne USA please.

Do they know how to take good care of a good ski mountain??

Do they have enough money to invest in all 8 or 10 of the mountains they own?? Sugarloaf needs help!!
post #4 of 28
Kneale Brownson likely has more to say about it, but I'd say the purchase is a good thing for the acquisitions.
Make no mistake, they are a developing kind of company. Although they haven't done much around the Highlands in that regard, but still fun places to ski and very consumer oriented from my point of view.
post #5 of 28
Boyne, from what I hear, are like the the Muellers, who own Okemo, a good company that has the ski industry in mind when making decisions about the future.
post #6 of 28
Boyne Mt has lift served Mt Biking too!
post #7 of 28
As a former Boyne employee, I will only say that the company often has a focus that is more driven by real estate than the ski experience.
post #8 of 28
You may need to check with Tsavo... Her father used to be a senior VP of MA with Boyne's owners... She knows the family very well!

By the way, what does this leave left in ASC's holdings? Can't be much...
post #9 of 28
I believe that it leaves The Albatr... I mean, Canyons.
post #10 of 28
Big Sky is a great mountain, though I can't understand how Boyne can turn a profit there given the size of the mountain and therefore the work and cost to run the lifts given the low numbers of skiiers there. Must be the conferences that keep things going (that's how we're there -- my husband attends a conference in February).
post #11 of 28
As a season passholder at Crystal Mountain, I am pretty happy with Boyne. They bought the place in 1997 after it went bankrupt pretty much and have since added 2 six packs, a quad, and a beautiful midmountain lodge. The thing about Crystal is the skiing is incredible and there is absolutely no real estate whatsoever. I think the Kirchers (Boyne's parent family) bought the place for the skiing because they are around a lot. The 10 free days for season passholders at each other Boyne resort is huge. I can get $700 worth of lift tickets on a vacation to Big Sky for free with my Crystal pass. So If I lived near Sugarloaf or Sunday River, I would buy a pass and come West for a week or two. The passes are really expensive, but I get a lot of skiing out of mine. As for development, that is probably how they make money to improve Crystal, since as a day only ski area I can't imagine it pays for the capitol projects.

Boyne clearly has some cash on hand, this summer alone there is a lift and terrain expansion at Crystal, a lift at Brighton, and 2 lifts at Cypress.
post #12 of 28
First glance it looks encouraging. Sugarloaf could use 2 or 3 lifts.

They paid $77 million for the 2 ski areas and assumed $2 million of debt.

Anxious to hear about any plans.
post #13 of 28
I'd expect this to be good for ailing ski areas. Boyne's ski area purchase history is that it generally buys areas that have been run down and spends the revenue to fix and upgrade.

While it's true Boyne has done a lot of "real estate" business with its Michigan and Montana holdings, there was no real estate to exploit at Brighton or Crystal, and as I understand it, not much at Cypress either.

When Boyne started buying their way into real mountains with the purchase of Big Sky in the late 1970s, one of the focal points in their decision was that they could pay for it with just a modest lift ticket price increase and a big reduction of overhead. According to founder Everett Kircher's book, their first purchase exploratory visit to Big Sky showed them why the area had lost $20 million the previous few years: "Every secretary had a secretary." It took them 15 years and $50 million of improvements to get to where Big Sky turned a profit, Kircher wrote.

When they bought Brighton in 1987, the thinking was that there was a tremendous potential to improve lift service, expand the skiing and turn the area profitable quickly with lift ticket increases. That only took two years and $17 million, according to Kircher.

They've improved infrastructure at all the areas they've purchased and tried to make operations skier-friendly, while being willing to wait for profitability to develop.
post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson View Post
They've improved infrastructure at all the areas they've purchased and tried to make operations skier-friendly, while being willing to wait for profitability to develop.
Initially I saw that as a concern with the number of "developing" projects they would now have under their belt. However, with their New Frontiers Capital partnership projects, maybe that will also extend to the new acquisitions.

The President of Sunday River once boasted to me that he had 7,000+ acres of Sunday-River-owned land ready for future development. The only thing standing in the way was lack of capital to get it started. If included with the sale (no reason to think it isn't), that land has to be of interest to the Kirchers and Forsythes.

Sugarloaf has a unique mix - much less owned land and located at the farther end of travel from NE pop centers. There is some development already there and still expanding. Sugarloaf seems like it will be a bit of a challenge because it does need new lifts. Someone reported they oversaw/overheard the "new owners" mapping out plans for trail expansion and lifts on an SL map while dining at one of Boston's top restaurants about 3-4 weeks ago.

So we'll see.
post #15 of 28
One thing to keep in mind is that when it comes to Boyne, there are actually 2 Boynes.

Steve Kircher and John Kircher.

John Kircher is and has been involved with Crystal Mtn. Steve is and has been involved with Big Sky since John moved to Washington.

Since John left, there has not been a lift added that wasn't a real estate lift. This summer that is changing.

But Big Skys newest high speed lift, Swiftcurrent, is 10 years old. The other 2 High Speeds (Ramcharger and Thunderwolf are more like 15 years old. The Sountern Comfort high speed (paid for by the Y/C) is much newer. Big Sky's infrastructure (lifts) is aging.

Brighton, while owned by Boyne is mostly operated by the Doyle family. Boyne pretty well stays out of the major decisions. There has never been much real estate potential at Brighton, or Cypress.

Oh well.
post #16 of 28
"Since John left, there has not been a lift added that wasn't a real estate lift. This summer that is changing."

Big Sky is getting a new lift this summer?

YC paid half for Southern Comfort and BS paid half. I think a new gondola is in the works.

I really think Big Sky is in great shape in terms of on mountain improvements. They have so few skiers that they won't need upgraded capacity for years.
post #17 of 28
Since John left, there has not been a lift added that wasn't a real estate lift. This summer that is changing."

Big Sky is getting a new lift this summer?

What I have been told is that Old So-Co will be rising phoenix-like from the Boneyard to run again as a lift below Dakota Territory.

YC paid half for Southern Comfort and BS paid half. I think a new gondola is in the works.

I am not privy to the details of that transaction so I will not comment further.

I really think Big Sky is in great shape in terms of on mountain improvements. They have so few skiers that they won't need upgraded capacity for years.

O.K.:




I suppose I could see a Gondola replacement but, the current G-1 lift is really a pretty good machine.
post #18 of 28
As for that 7,000 acres at Sunday River.......I hope they develop that with real estate and use the money (profit) to give Sugarloaf a nice big skiers smile with new lifts and maybe a trail or 2!!

Something that Sugarloaf never really did was promote summer activities. Does Boyne have any interest in summer festivals, concerts and such at their resorts??

Sunday River does have mountain biking. Sugarloaf does not.

I think Boyne is going to be good for Maine skiing.
post #19 of 28
Boyne's main summer focus has been golf. They started putting in golf courses long ago as both an attraction for conferences and as jobs for the winter staff. They started mountain bike activities several years ago in Michigan. Don't know about the other properties. They had a huge success using the base of Boyne Mtn. as an outdoor amphitheater for summer concerts last season and said they'll expand that kind of program in the future. I imagine that success like that here will spread elsewhere if it's appropriate. That wouldn't be a big draw for Big Sky, for example, although they do fairly well with conventions, I believe.

Maybe their experience with the waterpark at Boyne Mtn.--I think it's the only ski area with an on-property water park--may have them looking to do similar things elsewhere.

Kircher called Brighton his "second jackpot" after the cash cow he and his dad developed in Gatlinburg, TN, with a tourist chairlift up a mountain there. That thing has pumped millions into the coffers over the years. They have a local manager with occasional Boyne oversight. I imagine Brighton operates that way too. I think the Doyles lacked the wherewithall to arrange for the upgrades that turned that property profitable.

As a privately held corporation, Boyne USA only has to answer to family members, not a big public of stockholders, and their lenders, of course, and I believe they're all comfortable enough and have seen the advantages of patience regarding returning to profitability through improved services.
post #20 of 28

Infomation correction

Quote:
Originally Posted by bunion View Post
One thing to keep in mind is that when it comes to Boyne, there are actually 2 Boynes.

Steve Kircher and John Kircher.

John Kircher is and has been involved with Crystal Mtn. Steve is and has been involved with Big Sky since John moved to Washington.

Since John left, there has not been a lift added that wasn't a real estate lift. This summer that is changing.

Big Skys newest high speed lift, Swiftcurrent, is 10 years old. The other 2 High Speeds (Ramcharger and Thunderwolf are more like 15 years old. The Sountern Comfort high speed (paid for by the Y/C) is much newer. Big Sky's infrastructure (lifts) is aging.

Brighton, while owned by Boyne is mostly operated by the Doyle family. Boyne pretty well stays out of the major decisions. There has never been much real estate potential at Brighton, or Cypress.


Oh well.
Respectfully, Big Sky needed accomodations after JK left and needed to round out its offerings. With over 3,600 acres of skiing and only 300,000 skiers Big Sky has likely the lowest per acre skier counts of any public ski area in the US and thus there wasn't much to add. However, Sounthern Comfort was needed to be upgraded and paid 100% for by Boyne/Big Sky Resort and we did that in 2004/2005.


Just again clarify, the information about the Southern Comfort High Speed is not accurate. Big Sky Resort and Boyne USA paid for the entire cost of the Southern Comfort Lift. Big Sky has a development partnership with Spanish Peaks to allow access to Big Sky and there are certain reinumerations from Spanish Peaks for that access that are to be paid. Y/C had nothing to do with any aspect of the transaction.

This summer the New Dakota lift is going to be a pure skiers lift and will create much better access to the glade skiing of the Bavarian Forest and much better returns from the new Dakota Bowl and out of bounds skiing of Wyoming Bowl. This is a completely reworked triple fixed grip which came from Soc Co. The line speed will be higher as will the caliber of skier making for a much more enjoyable ride. It is also much shorter and thus a very good access lift to additional terrain. Future plans to call for a very low volume lift to access the Liberty, Marx and Lenin to back up the Tram and create the ability to stay on that side of the Mountain for extended periods. Big Sky is planning as part of this lift (hopefully in 2008) a small restuarant near the top of Shedhorn. Large deck and great views too.

It should be noted that Big Sky Resort and Boyne are also planning several new lifts for 2008 and beyond including a major update to the gondola creating direct or near direct tram access and an on mountain restaurant at the top of the bowl (which provides year round access to Lone Peak). Note also that high speeds are being evaluated for a new extended Explorer lift and the bowl. However, at 5m per high speed and 12-14m for gondolas they don't come cheaply.
post #21 of 28
Thanks for stopping in and clarifying matters at Big Sky, Stephen. EpicSki Academy will be visiting Big Sky March 29-April 2, 2008, and we're excited to see what's new since our last trip there in 2005. We'll be staying at the Huntley Lodge and using the excellent facilities at the Yellowstone Conference Center apres-ski--hope you'll stop by while we're there! We'll save you a t-shirt.
post #22 of 28
stephen Kircher. That sort of attention to Sugarloaf would be welcomed with open arms. We here in Maine have longed for investment into our fabulous ski areas.

Best of luck in your new purchases and we hope you visit often!
post #23 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by stephen Kircher View Post
Respectfully, Big Sky needed accomodations after JK left and needed to round out its offerings. With over 3,600 acres of skiing and only 300,000 skiers Big Sky has likely the lowest per acre skier counts of any public ski area in the US and thus there wasn't much to add. However, Sounthern Comfort was needed to be upgraded and paid 100% for by Boyne/Big Sky Resort and we did that in 2004/2005.


Just again clarify, the information about the Southern Comfort High Speed is not accurate. Big Sky Resort and Boyne USA paid for the entire cost of the Southern Comfort Lift. Big Sky has a development partnership with Spanish Peaks to allow access to Big Sky and there are certain reinumerations from Spanish Peaks for that access that are to be paid. Y/C had nothing to do with any aspect of the transaction.

This summer the New Dakota lift is going to be a pure skiers lift and will create much better access to the glade skiing of the Bavarian Forest and much better returns from the new Dakota Bowl and out of bounds skiing of Wyoming Bowl. This is a completely reworked triple fixed grip which came from Soc Co. The line speed will be higher as will the caliber of skier making for a much more enjoyable ride. It is also much shorter and thus a very good access lift to additional terrain. Future plans to call for a very low volume lift to access the Liberty, Marx and Lenin to back up the Tram and create the ability to stay on that side of the Mountain for extended periods. Big Sky is planning as part of this lift (hopefully in 2008) a small restuarant near the top of Shedhorn. Large deck and great views too.

It should be noted that Big Sky Resort and Boyne are also planning several new lifts for 2008 and beyond including a major update to the gondola creating direct or near direct tram access and an on mountain restaurant at the top of the bowl (which provides year round access to Lone Peak). Note also that high speeds are being evaluated for a new extended Explorer lift and the bowl. However, at 5m per high speed and 12-14m for gondolas they don't come cheaply.

Respectfully is right.

Thanks for dropping in and clarifying things here. A good friend who still is at Big Sky and has worked there since 1977 always talked about how nice a lift off the bottom back of Liberty would be. Nice to see his little dream come true.
post #24 of 28
I'm guessing Boyne's motive in their spread out holding all over the country.

Having lived in Michigan and skied in Boyne many years ago, I didn't understand then how Boyne can have such an expensive pass for such a tiny mountain. I do know though, Boyne is the "biggest of the big" ski resort in the midwest and attracts a lion share of Chicago skier. Now, for those who forgot (myself included sometimes), Chicago is a large city with a fairly significant population. It appears there's tons of money in that population for they eat up the pass like it's nothing!

By offering free or reduced rate skiing in all their holdings for Boyne pass holders (do they?), they would have a captive audience from the entire region around Chicago! Quite a few of my old Michigan skiing buddies have homes out west for skiing. Boyne would stand to profit from that crowd. They still have to pay to eat and sleep when they ski those resorts.

That's just my guess. All these newly purchased resorts are "moderate" size resort in out of way places, but they are BIG by midwest standards. It's got to be attractive to Boyne pass holders.
post #25 of 28
I just hope the new owners keep up the "perks" for locals.

i.e. Maine days (1/2 price Wednesday at the Loaf).
Maine Student Passes (and the combination SR/SL)
post #26 of 28
Kircher wrote in his book that they started looking westward when their business in Michigan started to drop off with the advent of cheaper and easier flights to the Rockies from Detroit and Chicago. He anticipated that he'd have a big influx of Boyne skiers at Big Sky. But that didn't happen. The Boyne pass holders who annually visited somewhere west kept going wherever it was they'd grown accustomed to going, despite the free or reduced lift rates they'd get with their Boyne pass.

I don't know what Boyne does for "local" perks elsewhere, but in Michigan, high school kids in the counties surrounding their resorts who get good grades also get free season tickets.

Boyne's ticket rates in Michigan this last season were a couple bucks to several bucks cheaper than either Crystal (MI) or Nub's. I think they failed to advertise their ticket price advantage.
post #27 of 28
This may be a non-story, since it looks like the same firm "owns" (but contracts to Boyne to run) a few of their other properties, but here it is anyway: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/ind...ticle&sid=2688

aaron
post #28 of 28
An official press release, confirming the above post by Stephen Kircher from June 9th:
http://www.bigskyresort.com/gen/bs_c...ls.asp?ID=1203
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