Powderhorn sale will be latest of recent resort deals

When Powderhorn is auctioned Aug. 4, it will become the third Colorado ski resort to find a new owner since the economy took a nose dive in 2008.

Selling was a positive experience for Copper Mountain, according to its public relations director, David Roth. Salt Lake City-based Powdr Corp. purchased the ski resort in December 2009 from Canadian property management firm Intrawest ULC.  Powdr, a family-owned company, manages seven resorts, a ski and snowboard shop and a tubing park, and has shown more interest in “the mountain experience” than the previous owner, Roth said.

“The owner of Powdr said he always enjoyed Copper Mountain and skied here all his life and felt it would be a great mountain to bring into the Powdr family,” Roth said.

The new owner has invested $18 million in capital expenditures and improvements and plans to update one of the resort’s lifts and upgrade Copper Mountain’s radio system this summer, he said.

“We’re very happy with our new owners and everything they bring to the table. We feel like it’s a great fit,” Roth said.

Crested Butte Mountain Resort hasn’t gone through the changes Copper Mountain has, and there’s a reason for that, said Erica Reiter, Crested Butte communications manager. Even though the resort was sold in December 2008 to CNL Lifestyle Properties Inc., a real estate investment trust based in Orlando, Fla., the same family that owned the resort before the sale continues to manage it through a 40-year lease with CNL.

Reiter is part of that family, the Muellers, and said they wanted to keep operating the resort but chose to sell for financing purposes.

“Banks weren’t wanting to lend,” Reiter said. CNL is “a public company, so they have investors, so ideally they have cash on hand to lend us for any capital improvements we want to make.”

Crested Butte and Copper Mountain were sold through private deals. Powderhorn’s sale price will be more clear because it will be sold at auction. There is no minimum bid for Powderhorn, and it will be sold regardless of how low the amount of the winning bid.

Reiter said conditions aren’t ideal at this time for ski resorts, as some people have given up the expensive sport during the recession. Things are improving in the ski industry, though, she said, as evidenced by a near-record year for skier visits at U.S. resorts this winter, according to the National Ski Areas Association.


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