Thursday, November 02, 2006

Steamboat Ski Area Sale announcement soon ???

UPDATED: Things have gotten very quiet in regards to the sale of the Steamboat Ski Area recently except for the helicopters flying slowly over the mountain slowly inspecting the current terrain and the possible expansion in the Pioneer Ridge area. There have also been frequent tours of Ski Co and properties that are part of the Sheraton Resort Sale with Thunderhead Lodge and Ski Time Square getting a lot of attention. Most people that normally know something say they haven't heard anything in the last week or so. I have been asked for price and market opinions on various properties by people tied into various bids for Sheraton properties.

The Sheraton schedule is just getting started while we are well into, if not past, the second round of bids for the Steamboat Ski Area. It will be interesting to see if they both go to the same buyer. A second buyer may be able to pay more for the Sheraton and still benefit from that change without having to swallow the ski area too so that adds a bit of extra fun for the ski area buyers that would like to get both. A few very well connected people say that it is under contract for a close by the end of 2006 and an announcement will come soon.

Here's a stab at the big players still in the game:
- a partnership of 4 significant players, if you know the secret handshake, some say it is Vail (I think that translates to George Gillette, Andy Daly, Bill Butler, and their money guy in Denver who sold Founders Funds). They have been in town a lot lately so they are still in the game.
- Vail, still a possibility even with what I said above but insiders say that their next purchase will be outside of Colorado.
- it could be the Mueller's with either Disney or some of their local partners who made their money at Dell (Jim Larsen et all) from their bid for Steamboat in 2001. Disney could either be the company or family members since at least one has a home in the valley.
- Starwood Capital may be out more due to internal issues than anything but they are still actively poking around and gathering data.
- Fortress Group still seems to be in the hunt based on reports from properties they have visited. They are in the process of buying Intrawest for $1.8B which includes Copper Mtn and the management contract for Winter Park
- Maybe a group of 4 from the southeast and Steamboat, I'll refrain from giving more details right now as this is more of an idea.
- it could still be the unknown bidder that has been careful to keep their name out of view, I know there is at least one and it may be the group behind the Bretton Woods ski area in New Hampshire where Bode Miller hangs his hat. One interesting twist is that the Celebration Group which owns Bretton Woods is comprised of former Disney real estate executives. They may be looking at The Mueller's who own Okemo and now Crested Butte as a model for westward expansion or even be working with them.
- I think I am forgetting one but can't think of it at the moment and I need to run.

Whatever happens I'm sure there are a few surprises and possibly a different combination of the above players. It will undoubtedly be interesting to see how it unfolds. You can scan through the rest of my blog below for more history. Let's hope it is someone with a heart that understands the soul of Steamboat, what makes it special here and will preserve that as they make needed improvements.

Back to the Steamboat Springs blog main page for more.

No comments: