Vail Resorts buys second Tahoe resort — Northstar

Updated: Oct. 25, 2010, 4:50pm.

By Kathryn Reed

Vail Resorts has expanded its footprint on the greater Lake Tahoe area with the announcement Oct. 25 of its acquisition of Northstar-at-Tahoe.

The Colorado-based company acquired the stock of the companies that operate Northstar-at-Tahoe from Booth Creek Resort Properties LLC and other sellers for $63 million. The Truckee ski area is on land owned by CNL Lifestyle Properties Inc. Vail now has a long-term lease, the details of which have not be disclosed, with CNL.

Sierra-at-Tahoe is not affected by the transaction. It is still owned by Booth Creek.

Northstar-at-Tahoe is now owned by Vail Resorts. Photo/Kathryn Reed

Northstar-at-Tahoe is now owned by Vail Resorts. Photo/Kathryn Reed

“We truly see this as a positive thing,” Sierra spokeswoman Kirstin Cattell told Lake Tahoe News. No changes are being made to Sierra’s management team.

George Gillett, chief executive officer, Chris Ryman, president and chief operating officer, and Betsy Cole, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Booth Creek, will no longer have management positions at Northstar. Julie Maurer, vice president of marketing and sales at Booth Creek, is now vice president of marketing with Vail Resorts, overseeing the marketing and sales of Heavenly and Northstar.

John Wagnon will remain as vice president of marketing at Heavenly.

A general manager, who still needs to be hired, will oversee Northstar much like Pete Sonntag was brought in this summer to run Heavenly.

Kelly Ladyga, spokeswoman for Vail Resorts, told Lake Tahoe News, “We have been watching Northstar. It has been one of the fastest growing resorts in North America for the past few years. It has substantial and diverse terrain, and a new and modern base village.”

Northstar, under the ownership of Booth Creek, had a renaissance in the last several years with terrain being added, along with lifts. The mid-mountain lodge was rebuilt after arsonists caused significant damage several years ago.

East West Partners, a company that is now in bankruptcy, developed the LEED-certified village.

A Ritz-Carlton opened mid-mountain last December with mixed results during the recession.

“There are no immediate plans for capital improvements (at the resort),” Ladyga said.

She would not comment if other acquisitions are in the works or being talked about. This is normal for the publicly traded company. However, it’s possible news could be forthcoming after the Dec. 3 annual stockholders meeting in Colorado.

Vail earlier this month bought Accommodation Station to be able to offer Heavenly skiers a lodging package.

Vail is used to having its properties being associated with high-end lodging. Beaver Creek has a Ritz and its other Colorado resorts have lodging that caters to a crowd with money.

Heavenly is Vail Resorts’ only ski area to not be associated with a lodging component. Vail bought Heavenly Mountain Resort in 2000 from American Ski Company. It has pumped millions of dollars into the California-Nevada resort, with the latest infusion of cash going to a mid-mountain lodge that will open in February.

Vail was going to be the hotel owner at the now bankrupt convention center, but both sides ended that partnership before Randy Lane filed for bankruptcy a year ago. Rumors are still rampant Vail Resorts would like to run a hotel operation across from the Heavenly gondola in South Lake Tahoe.

Season passholders at Northstar, Heavenly and Sierra have a chance to ski all three areas this year. People who bought the Double Whammy pass will still be able to ski Northstar.

Ladyga said people with the $799 unlimited Double Whammy may exchange it for the $629 Epic pass, get a refund, and ski at all the Colorado resorts Vail owns in addition to retaining the right to ski at Sierra.

People who buy Heavenly’s $349 season pass will be able to ski there, Northstar and Sierra this winter, Ladyga said.

The EpicMix, which Vail is introducing this season, will be available at Northstar in 2011-12.

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Comments (16)
  1. foible says - Posted: October 25, 2010

    bummer, probably cut of Serra Tahoe share mountain program.

  2. Steve says - Posted: October 25, 2010

    Vail buying up the ski resorts at Lake Tahoe is like Barton Health buying up all the medical practices at South Shore… not beneficial for consumers and the prices they must pay.

  3. Loreen Norberg says - Posted: October 26, 2010

    Bring it on! Heavenly, Northstar and Sierra for $349! Unbelievable :D

  4. Dave H says - Posted: October 26, 2010

    Remember when we used to talk about redevelopment and not wanting Tahoe to “become another Vail”. Oops.

  5. Steven says - Posted: October 26, 2010

    Hey Steve—Prices look pretty sweet at the moment!!!

  6. Chuck Halladay says - Posted: October 26, 2010

    A Faceless Rat’s Lament #2

    All hail Vail! The South Shore’s and Heavenly’s savior
    They’ve come to our rescue for just a few backroom favors
    “No city taxes! No way will we pay! We’ll stop the gondola! What can you say!?
    Now build us a parking garage to keep us in play.
    And for its construction, why don’t you pay…”
    Our representatives – our City Council confesses “OK”
    Just giving hard fought Redevelopment #1 monies away

    Oh, what might’ve our then good Mayor and Council been scheming?
    “Who could conceive of these questions? Who keeps track of our dealings?”
    I thank you Kae and Ski Bum…for feeding our minds and keeping us seeing

    All hail Vail! And never despair
    They’ll eventually replace old North Bowl chair
    Sooner or later they’re bound to declare
    “We wanted to use wind power” but we know that’s hot air
    And that maintenance shack that we call “Cal Lodge’
    Still nothing more than a square shingled ‘60’s hodge podge

    All hail Vail! What do you guys do with all of that profit?
    Do you buy our politicians and put the rest in your pocket?
    Where is your charity? Your community spirit?
    Like “The Face” have you hocked it?
    Couldn’t care less about kids or community
    It’s all about Vail taking profit

    All hail Vail! With no skiing contests, who knows who’s best?
    Will you guys ever hold your mountain management to a comparison or test?
    Not another delayed powder day opening?
    -Not open til noon! You must jest!
    Is Squaw the valley that will always lead the rest?
    The South Shore has the Halen’s from the last contests seen
    New families are essential to our collapsing community
    Are you now drowning our future Olympian’s dreams?
    With all of your shortsighted, self-profiting screams?

    All hail Vail! You’ve been here ten years
    and what do you show us for all your marketing jeers?
    You’ve stolen our mountain, brought us to tears
    Posted huge signs that point out our stashes
    Slashed out our trees that hold powder patches
    Not a Half Pipe assembled, year after year
    Please! Stop screwing around with our mountain, you corporate profiteers
    You make this Faceless rat ponder, “Oh, why have you come here?”

    All hail Vail! It’s the crater you see!
    That place we call “Hole” is Heavenly to be
    They’ll sell us the Moon, tell us it’s free
    (This all sounds so familiar to me
    Oh, ya! We pick up the tab if it hits bankruptcy!)
    Then charge us our shirts just to have a look-see
    Will you buy our city council and become a monopoly?
    It’s coming for us: Don’t vote – just wait and you’ll see
    The South Shore will be Vail Corp’s version of a “Disney” city
    Great for the rich, see the jet set in glee
    But for the less than this fortunate, it’s outright travesty!

    All hail Vail! They’ll buy up or town for cents on the dollar
    Then tear the rest down to build Disneyland proper
    Have a look at Northstar, Vail or Whistler; I think you’ll agree
    We’ll be priced out of our world
    Our mountains our slopes and our trees
    Ask candidate Kubby, who knows it’s not free
    – “Who can afford the Olympic Valley?”
    A place where the Locals are gone,
    Forced out with the cheaper leasees,
    Paying all those Tahoe earned taxes to Carson City
    Just ask a fireman, nurse, a Contractor or
    other middle class employee
    It’s already too expensive to live here in SL of T
    They want the glorious, the rich and famous you see
    And nothing to do with ilk they call me

    All hail Vail! They’ll leave us Locals to be
    Dressing in clown suits and feigning “Happy!”
    All when every summer South Shore could be
    A world class mountain & bike racing stop and party
    Bring back winter competitions and we may see
    Shoulder to shoulder seasons with ”No Vacancy’s”
    A practice run should prove we can be
    That special host by the International Olympic Committee

    NOT WITH VAIL HERE. Hear this, that’s the way it will be:
    Shouting they’ll say “Thou shall repeat after me!
    It’s all about profit, you non-voting chimpanzees!
    We don’t care about you or anything you believe
    Now stop with the questions and get out of the trees!
    Just bow your heads down and get on your knees!
    You should be thankful we’re here offering poverty
    Wages to the young and naive”
    Then you pack them 10 to a room and wonder
    – “Why do they leave?”

    Put the same good ole’ boys back in office
    –Recall they’ve already given Redevelopment #1 away
    For and on the behalf of making Vail’s day
    Just remember that we’ll never have another word, voice or say:
    Vail will grow out of control just like the TRPA.

  7. Skibum says - Posted: October 26, 2010

    Heavenly 2010-2011 Season Passes:
    • Heavenly Pass: Ski and ride at Heavenly all season long at $379 for adults, $309 for teens and $199 for children. Some restricted dates apply. Heavenly Passes will now offer access to Northstar and Sierra with some restricted dates; not valid at Northstar on Saturdays from Dec. 18, 2010 through March 26, 2011.
    This is what the blog says but I just called a Vail rep and was told the $379 pass does NOT work with Sierra You have to upgrade to the Epic which is still a good deal

  8. admin says - Posted: October 26, 2010

    This is directly from the Oct. 25, 2010, Vail Resorts press release:
    Heavenly 2010-2011 Season Passes:
    • Heavenly Pass: Ski and ride at Heavenly all season long at $379 for adults, $309 for teens and $199 for children. Some restricted dates apply. Heavenly Passes will now offer access to Northstar and Sierra with some restricted dates; not valid at Northstar on Saturdays from Dec. 18, 2010 through March 26, 2011.

    Kathryn Reed, LTN publisher

  9. Skibum says - Posted: October 26, 2010
    Here is the site from Vail but the season pass ticket agents apparently haven’t gotten the word yet as they are still saying only the Epic pass is good a Sierra This is good for us at South Shore, if only we could Kwood to be included

  10. ME says - Posted: October 26, 2010

    I wonder when Vail will run the City Council?

  11. foible says - Posted: October 26, 2010

    Clears up them buying the hole for future players who are open to Anni up if like the Hole on Highway 50,Beautiful SOUTH LAKE TAHOE CA.-96150



  12. sc says - Posted: October 26, 2010

    “Remember when we used to talk about redevelopment and not wanting Tahoe to ‘become another Vail’. Oops.”

    Used to? Just drove from the airport to Stateline; you do not have to worry about this town becoming another Vail … at least, not in this lifetime.

  13. fpogen says - Posted: October 28, 2010

    Chuck…. that was amazing, that should be front page.

  14. dryclean says - Posted: November 2, 2010

    The bigger questions are: 1) Was the sale price of $68 million a good deal for Vail or a good deal for Booth Creek? 2) Why is Booth Creek bailing out if they see a rosy future for Northstar? 3) Is a purchase of the Ritz Carlton from East West impending? 4) How afraid of Squaw is Vail? They have been trying to purchase Squaw for at least 4 years. Now that they can’t get it they go after Northstar. 5) Does Squaw now purchase Sierra and offer a competing multi-resort pass to skiers and riders? 6) If Vail continues to push season passes at a discount rate their average revenue per ticket continues to fall, will capital investment follow suit? i.e. what happened to the epic lake view lodges and new CA base lodge they bragged were coming by 2008? 7) With Heavenly and Northstar, Vail now as two of the least challenging mountains in Tahoe. Find a groomed black diamond between the two of them. They also get the worst snow of all the Tahoe mountains. Northstar’s low elevation produces the worst snow condidtions in Tahoe as does the lower elevations at Heavenly. Long live man-made snow. How does the TRPA feel about all of this un-natural snow?

    Finally, what happens when a majority of the Northstar and Heavenly pass holders decide to descend upon one of the two mountains on the same weekend; lines and crowded trails like we have never seen? Heavenly just got less safe in its already overcrowded trails.