Fortress to buy Colorado ski resort for $265m

Buoyed by capital from its private equity backer, ski resort operator Intrawest has agreed to purchase Steamboat Ski & Resort for $265m.

Intrawest has agreed to acquire Steamboat Ski & Resort for $265 million (€205 million) as the Vancouver-based ski resort operator looks to expand its presence in the North American market.

The seller, American Skiing, owns six other ski resorts: Killington and Mount Snow in Vermont; Sunday River and Sugarloaf/USA in Maine; Attitash in New Hampshire; and The Canyons in Utah.

Included in the Steamboat transaction are the namesake ski resort in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and the resort’s real estate assets, which include the Steamboat Grand Hotel & Condominiums and a partial interest in a local apartment complex. According to American Skiing, Steamboat was the eighth most visited ski resort in the US in 2006 with more than one million visitors, an increase of approximately 8 percent over 2005. Despite Steamboat’s strong performance, however, the stock price of American Skiing has languished. 

Intrawest’s most well-known asset is the Canadian ski resort Whistler Blackcomb, one of the host venues for the 2010 Winter Olympics. The company also owns nine other ski resorts in North America, including Vermont’s Stratton Mountain, Colorado’s Winter Park and Quebec’s Mont-Tremblant. Other assets owned by Intrawest include the world’s largest heli-skiing outfit, Canadian Mountain Holidays, a private resort club called Club Intrawest and Florida’s Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. In August, Fortress Investment Group agreed to buy the company for $2.8 billion, a deal which provided expansion capital for Intrawest, which is reportedly looking for additional acquisitions.

Fortress is not the only private equity firm that has been active in the sector as many private equity firms look to capitalize on the vast real estate holdings held by many ski resorts. In 2005, Starwood Capital acquired a majority interest in California’s Mammoth Mountain in a deal that valued the ski resort at $365 million. Intrawest was the seller. KSL Capital Partners was rumored to be interested in Mammoth, while Fotress reportedly outbid both Starwood and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts in its acquisition of Intrawest.