Aspen resorts to remain privately held beyond Aspen Skico/KSL purchase of Steamboat Ski Resort |

Aspen resorts to remain privately held beyond Aspen Skico/KSL purchase of Steamboat Ski Resort

Tom Ross | Steamboat Today

— The Chicago family that owns the Aspen Skiing Co. will retain private ownership of its four ski resorts in Aspen after its $1.5 billion acquisition, with KSL Capital Partners, of Intrawest Resort Holdings, Inc., and the six resorts it either owns or manages, including Steamboat Ski Resort, on Monday.

The Aspen Times reported April 11, in an article by Scott Condon, that Aspen Skiing Co., owned by the Crown family, will continue to be operated separately from Intrawest and KSL’s Squaw Valley, although all of the resorts will work collaboratively where it makes sense.

Aspen Skiing Co. President and CEO Mike Kaplan told Condon that an increased ability to leverage information technology to compete against other sectors of the broad travel and leisure industry is at the top of the list of advantages to joining the ski resorts together.

 “It’s a constant battle as an independent resort to keep up with changes in technology,” Kaplan said.

Could there be a Limelight Hotel in Steamboat Springs’ future?

In an interview with the Aspen Times, Kaplan hinted that the acquisition of Intrawest and Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows resorts could represent new markets for its successful Limelight Hotel.

The article reported that Aspen had acquired the Limelight Hotel in Aspen and rebranded it to make it a “hangout” as well as an appealing lodging property. A second Limelight opened at the base of Sun Valley, Idaho, and a third is already planned for Snowmass Base Village.

“We think there’s opportunity for Limelights elsewhere,” Kaplan said.

In another era, the potential to develop real estate around the base of ski resorts was a significant factor in acquisitions. However, it’s not clear that is the case in this instance.

Intrawest has reported owning 1,100 acres of land at its ski resorts, but the status of Ski Time Square, the former Thunderhead Hotel site and the next phase of the Edgemont condominiums, all near the base of Steamboat Ski Resort, has not been confirmed.

Steamboat Today has learned that the commercial real estate firm CBRE, with offices around the world, had listed all three properties, comprising 10 acres, for sale together with no published asking price.

Prior to the Great Recession, a developer connected to Intrawest parent, Fortress Investment Group, demolished the 1960s-era Ski Time Square commercial district along with the ski-in, ski-out Thunderhead Lodge on the north side of the Steamboat Ski Resort base area. None of that property was developed.

However, there is some precedence for what the city of Steamboat Springs was willing to approve there a decade ago.

Third-party developers had acquired a development permit for a hotel on the Thunderhead site, which was intended for a Ritz Carlton. And the city was engaged in analyzing proposals for Ski Time Square.

Another potential development site at Steamboat, which is part of the ski area’s holdings, is the current Knoll Parking Lot on Mount Werner Circle.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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