What you need to know:
Canyons will be included in the Epic Season Pass for the 2013-2014 winter season.
Original Press Release:
BROOMFIELD, Colo.—May 29, 2013—Vail Resorts today announced that the Company has entered into a long-term lease with affiliate companies of Talisker Corporation for Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah. Under the lease, Vail Resorts has assumed all of the resort operations of Canyons while Talisker has retained its development rights for four million square feet of real estate at the resort.
“With 4,000 skiable acres, easy access to the town of Park City and $75 million in recent resort improvements, Canyons is a perfect complement to our collection of world-class mountain resorts,” said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts. “I commend the Talisker and Canyons team for the outstanding work they have done to redevelop the resort, which is reflected in a top 10 ranking by SKI Magazine and #4 ranking by Outside Magazine. We look forward to building on that momentum and including Canyons in our industry-leading season pass products, which next season will offer guests access to Colorado, Tahoe and Utah on one season pass, a first in ski industry history. We will also leverage our guest database and domestic and international sales and marketing efforts to continue to drive Canyons’ growth. Talisker has an outstanding track record of high-end resort development and we look forward to working together to create something truly extraordinary with Talisker’s four million square feet of remaining approved residential and commercial density at Canyons.”
The transaction also incorporates the potential for the lease, without additional consideration, to include the land under the ski terrain of Park City Mountain Resort that is adjacent to Canyons and is currently owned by Talisker and is subject to pending litigation. “We look forward to the litigation being resolved and hope that Vail Resorts can play a constructive role in helping to arrive at a solution that offers the best outcome for guests of both resorts,” Katz added.
“We are thrilled to be able to bring in Vail Resorts to partner with us on our vision for Canyons,” said Jack Bistricer, chief executive officer of Talisker. “Vail Resorts is the clear leader in the mountain resort industry and I am confident that they can replicate at Canyons the success they have delivered at resorts such as Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Northstar. I am incredibly proud of all that our team has accomplished at Canyons over the past five years and am confident that together with Vail Resorts, we can create one of the greatest mountain resorts in the world.”
The Company also announced that purchasers of the Epic Pass for the 2013-2014 winter season will receive unlimited and unrestricted access to Canyons, as well as to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Northstar, Heavenly and Kirkwood. The 2013-2014 Epic Pass is on sale now at $689 for adults, compared to the season pass price of $849 at Canyons this past year.
The lease has an initial term of 50 years with six 50-year renewal options. The lease provides for $25 million in annual fixed payments, which increase each year by an inflation linked index of CPI less one percent, with a floor of two percent per annum. In addition, the lease includes participating contingent payments to Talisker of 42 percent of the amount by which EBITDA for the resort operations, as calculated under the lease, exceeds approximately $35 million, with such threshold amount increased by an inflation linked index and a 10-percent adjustment for any capital improvements or investments made under the lease by Vail Resorts. The Company will be finalizing the accounting for the lease in the coming months but expects to record an obligation on the balance sheet of approximately $305 million in long-term debt (including capital lease obligations). The Company expects incremental annual Resort EBITDA from Canyons of approximately $15 million in fiscal year 2014 (excluding transition and integration costs) increasing to approximately $25 million in fiscal year 2017, not including any potential benefit the Company may receive from the Park City Mountain Resort land which is subject to ongoing litigation.
Here is the original link.
Note: These are a few tips Denver-based David Bakke, who is a writer for MoneyCrashers.com, where he explores various methods to save money on all of life's expenses. Some of these tips ring true to me as I've saved a ton of money buying equipment on CraigsList and securing lift tickets through Liftopia. - JOEL
What's more popular, surfing the web or skiing the slopes? You might be surprised. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, Americans now spend almost as much money on winter sports as they do accessing the Internet. The one downside to the rising popularity of winter and snow sports is that the prices of gear are unfortunately rising too. It's more important than ever to save as much as you can when stocking up on your equipment, so whether you've never skied before or you're a black diamond expert, check out the following tips to help save money on your snow sport experience.
1. Don't Buy New Equipment
Buying new equipment means paying full-freight for gear at the height of its popularity. Instead, check out eBay or Amazon for deals, making sure to perform thorough research before you pull the trigger. If you happen to live near a popular snow sports area, try Craigslist for local deals. Alternatively, if your activity of choice requires traveling long distances with lots of gear, consider renting your equipment when you arrive to avoid paying excess baggage fees.
2. Reduce Travel Expenses
There are plenty of ways to save on travel expenses when jaunting off to that wintry haven. For the best airline ticket deals, make your reservations early in the week since that's when the sales usually occur. Consider setting out on a Tuesday or Wednesday, when demand for flights isn't as high. And, if you're driving to your destination, see if you can carpool by posting an ad on Craigslist or listing your trip on a website like eRideShare. You never know when you might get lucky.
3. Save on Lift Tickets
You can usually score the best deals on lift tickets by checking the resort's website where you might be able to purchase them in tandem with your lodging. You're also likely to find bargains on third-party websites such as Lifttopia. And regardless of where you buy your tickets, you can save a ton of cash by doing your skiing in the middle of the week and either early or late in the day.
4. Find Lodging with Kitchen Amenities
Save significant money on your trip by finding lodging with kitchen amenities included. Eating out three times a day for a week-long trip can get very expensive, very quickly. Book yourself a room with a minimum of a microwave and fridge, pick up some eats from a local grocery store, and cook-in a few times throughout your stay.
5. Stop Keeping up With the Joneses
Despite the image that's projected in movies and magazines, there's simply no need to dress in the most fashionable sporting gear on the market when you're exercising – especially when you're skiing and snowboarding. Whether you participate in snow sports several times a year or you're a total rookie, this is a waste of money plain and simple. Save cash by buying middle-of-the-road, quality apparel, and skip the unneeded extras.
When you realize the savings you've wrangled, be sure to put them where they can do the most good. If you've got credit card balances, pay them off. If you don't have an emergency fund, establish one in case you hit with a rainy day. If you're covered in those areas, try bulking up your retirement account or starting a 529 savings plan for your child's college education. Conserving money and cutting corners on your leisure activities is essential to a healthy financial existence, just be sure the savings go to a good cause. What ways can you think of to save on snow sports?
With the unusual reversal of seasons this past month, resorts like Vail, Copper and Breckenridge were persuaded by the feet of April snow to reopen. For the last article of the season, I spoke with Liz Biebl and Sarah Lococo of Vail Resorts as well as Dwight Eppinger of Copper Mountain to discuss the reopening process.
What are the deciding factors in order to reopen the resort?
Biebl and Lococo: The most important factors in deciding to reopen Vail for another weekend of skiing and snowboarding this season was the significant amount of snow the resort received near the end of the season, particularly on closing day and the following Monday. We also felt confident about more snowfall in the forecast as well as the feasibility of staffing operations to reopen. Vail received about five feet of snow between Sunday, April 14 – Vail’s originally scheduled closing day – and Sunday, April 21 – Vail’s extended closing day
The main reason Vail decided to reopen. Photo Courtesy Vail Resorts.
Once the decision is made, how do you decide for how long and what terrain you will reopen, and what goes into this decision?
Eppinger: The decision on how much and what terrain we were going to open was first partly forced because we had already started doing maintenance work on some lifts so those areas were not available. Next we looked at an area where we would be able to open all types of terrain for the public and do it in a safe manner.
Biebl and Lococo: Vail decided to extend the 50th anniversary season for one weekend only, thanks to fantastic snow conditions. The amount of terrain and on-mountain facilities we were able to open was largely dependent upon the number of employees that were still around after the official close of the season on April 14 and were available for re-hire.
How many employees are needed to reopen?
Eppinger: This is from the top of my head so it could be a little off. We opened 450 acres, 15 ski patrollers, six to eight lift attendants, two ticket checkers, six lift maintenance, eight groomers, four shuttle drivers, two snow removal, five parking, four to five ticket sellers, four rental/retail, eight to ten food and beverage. This doesn't include accounting, marketing or any other behind the scenes departments (who were also helping fill in the front line positions).
What are the steps in getting ready to reopen?
Biebl and Lococo: After making the decision to reopen for an additional weekend of skiing and snowboarding at Vail, the first step was to re-hire employees, from lift operators and food and beverage positions, to product sales personnel and ticket scanners, to ski patrollers and groomers. With a better idea of staffing capabilities, we could then determine what terrain could reopen, what lifts would run, and what on-mountain dining services would be available for guests. All of this was then communicated to the public as soon as possible. Prior to reopening on Friday, April 19, ski patrol was on the mountain evaluating terrain and conducting the necessary prep work to ensure that all areas of the mountain that were slated to open were ready for skiers and snowboarders.
Vail Patrollers. Photo Courtesy of Vail Resorts.
What’s the most difficult thing about reopening?
Eppinger: I'd say staffing. Most of the hourly employees had already moved on and a lot of the year round staff was already on vacation.
Biebl and Lococo: Ensuring Vail would have enough employees to run the necessary operations to reopen the resort is certainly a challenge. Extending the season an extra weekend was truly a resort-wide team effort that all came together on Tuesday, April 16, prior to reopening on Friday, April 19.
Do the prices of lift tickets remain the same?
Biebl and Lococo: Tickets for Vail’s extended weekend of skiing and snowboarding cost $50. A special $25 ticket was offered to guests holding a season pass to any ski resorts outside of Vail Resorts. Guests were able to apply either of these ticket purchases towards the purchase of a 2013-2014 Vail Resorts Epic Pass or other season pass product.
Eppinger: Ticket pricing was done as normal. We based the price on open terrain and competitive pricing. We did not allow you to apply your ticket price towards next year's season pass. We wanted to keep the products offered as simple as possible to keep the ticket lines as short as possible. Reopening wasn't about making money; we did it because we felt it was the right thing to do for our season pass holders.
Another gopro shot showing the goods. Photo courtesy Vail Resorts.
Every week, skiers and snowboarders en route to one of the many Summit County resorts pass Loveland Ski Area. From I-70, Loveland appears small relative to other nearby mountains. What the majority of these people do not realize is that Loveland has twice the acreage as Arapahoe Basin, a variety of terrain from high alpine bowls and steeps to glades, and now offers free cat skiing. Friday, I was invited to ski the Loveland experience and take a ride on the new Ridge Cat.
After the past storm that deposited close to three feet of snow, conditions were reminiscent of winter. The cat climbs to a neighboring 13,000-foot peak revealing 360-degree views of the Gore Range, the I-70 Corridor, as well as the many inbound, skiable bowls and steeps that typically remain untouched for days at a time. Due to avalanche danger only a couple of runs were open; however, cruising boot-deep, creamy powder in the sun for 1,000-vertical feet was more than satisfactory. If at Loveland on a day where all of the Cat-accessed terrain is open, farther down the ridge are steeper bowls and the Rock Chutes, which are similar to Breckenridge’s Lake Chutes.
Loveland season pass holders enjoying the view and freshies on an empty Friday.
Marketing and communications director for Loveland Ski Area, John Sellers, said they decided to do it for free as an added bonus in order to allow customers to experience new terrain they would not normally take the time to hike to.
“It’s such a unique experience because not a lot of people ever get the chance to ride in a snowcat,” Sellers said. “But then, I think it opens a lot of people’s eyes to what terrain we have, because they can see it from other chairs but never think that they can get out there. Now it gives out customers more of an opportunity to explore the mountain.”
We found some good turns like this one the whole day.
Best of all, we were almost the only people taking advantage of the untracked snow. Colorado native and Loveland frequenter, Richie Londer, said this is characteristic of the ski resort. With few lift lines, even when the parking lot is full, Loveland Ski Area remains a hidden gem.
“I have ridden all the inbounds cats and Loveland’s and Copper's are the best,” Londer said. “But, for me, Loveland’s is the most special because there’s no one here, even on busy days, so a lot of the time I am skiing freshies alone on the cat-accessed terrain.”
Smiles all around. Photo courtesy Dustin Schaefer.
With the rapid progression of skiing and snowboarding, resorts have been working hard to maintain terrain parks that continue challenging and satisfying guests and pros alike. For the last article covering resort operations, I caught up with the supervisor for terrain park and cat operations at Keystone Ski Resort, Tony Wertin, 32.
Wertin was contracted to build the slopestyle course for the 2012 X Games and has setup terrain parks around Colorado and in California. When I showed up he was preparing for the Nike photo shoot and showed me what it takes to design and construct a world-class terrain park.
How many people are on staff and is previous training required?
We have 20 people total that work for the terrain park. There are nine of us that operate cats and on each day there are four to five people working.
No previous training it’s all on-the-job.
Preparing a new step-over feature for the Nike photo shoot.
If you want to build a quality halfpipe then you will need a cat with a knarly saw attached.
What’s a typical day on the job, and what goes into getting ready for the season and continuing forward?
We work from 3:30 p.m. until 1:30 a.m. During this shift we maintain the features that we have. We resurface and groom everything. If we want to change something we assign a project to one or two people to get done during the shift.
During the preseason we initially build a terrain park at the summit. This involves about 30 features and acts as our opening park. Then as soon as that is up and running, and there’s enough snow, we begin to move further down the mountain and build the A51 Terrain Park. This can take a solid two weeks of snowmaking and work to get this done. Then, as the season progresses, overnight we take everything that’s at the summit and move it down to mid mountain to open the more advanced park, which we usually open last. As we get more snow we can build bigger and bigger features. In photoshoot season (after closing in spring) we talk with the companies coming in and figure out a design for the features they would like to see. We then begin tearing down everything and rebuilding the features to what they specifically want, which is a mixture of rider design and our creativity.
How do you design features?
We get our designs through everyone that works in the terrain park. The creativity comes from a coworker’s idea or a spinoff of that idea to make it more unique. We don’t do specific blueprints for the regular park we typically gauge it. So, if it’s a 45-foot jump then we need a certain amount of landing that’s at least 30 degrees. Meanwhile, during the post season we work with the companies and use three-dimensional sketches for specific features and tweak them as needed before construction. Overall, in the small park jumps are as large as 15 feet, medium jumps range from 10 to 45 feet, and the large jumps go from 50 to 75 feet.
During the season we keep a book of ideas and during the summertime we build the more important features. We do the rail building and welding ourselves.
The planning three-dimensional sketch and then the final product. Photos courtesty Tony Wertin.
How long does it take to construct an average jump or rail? Can you explain the process?
An average jump, from scratch, and with all the snowmaking already finished, it would take about three days. If you want to construct a rail line, four or five can be done in a 10-hour shift per person.
In terms of the process, first, I would build the landing and then use ropes to make measurements and use a chainsaw to ensure crisp and clean lines. Then I would remove the excess snow from chain-sawing to create the perfect shape. Once I push up the take off, I rope it and chainsaw it to make it clean.
How do you keep progressing and staying ahead of other resorts?
Usually our staff does everything, but sometimes we take input from pro skiers and snowboarders. Our staff is constantly thinking of ways to push the envelope. We have different levels of skiers and snowboarders on staff, and everyone likes to ride different things. This makes it a lot easier because everyone likes riding different features allowing for specialization.
A skier in the A51 Terrain Park. Photo Courtesy Chad Schmidt.
How do you mitigate danger, especially with new features?
For every feature that we build it’s mandatory to have it tested. We make sure it’s safe before it’s open to the general public. Usually, people on the terrain park staff are the testers. I do a lot of them but not all of the big ones. Also, myself and two other leads visually inspect the work to ensure safety and if there is a problem the feature is removed. Lastly, we build a lot of the features (rails, etc.) during the summer and make sure they are safe before used on the mountain.
In what direction do you see terrain parks moving?
People want things that look scarier than in actuality. I think things are becoming more street and skateboard influenced as skating becomes more popular - being able to build a skate park on the mountain.
A snowboarder in the A51 Terrain Park. Photo Courtesty Chad Schmidt.
Riding the A51 Terrain Park. Photo courtesty Aaron Dodds.
What’s the most difficult part of the job that guests don’t necessarily see?
The most difficult part of the job is dealing with snowstorms. When it snows a lot, because most of the features are hard to maintain anyway, we have to, by hand, dig out a lot of the features so they do not get closer to the ground and push snow off the jumps so the landings do not flatten – we cannot use machines because they will not fit in certain areas.
MS Super Park finished product, looking crisp and clean. Photo courtesty Tony Wertin.