Intrawest and VR still working together
KEYSTONE – Despite a Vail Resorts executive’s statement Friday that Intrawest likely is leaving its Vail Resorts partnership in Keystone, Intrawest’s regional vice president, Paul Stashick, said his company currently isn’t taking any such steps.
“If and when there is ever a change in our partnership status, you will not hear it at a dinner party or a homeowners meeting first,” Stashick said Tuesday. “It will be disclosed to our lenders and shareholders first and the general public second.
“I’m still the vice president of Keystone Real Estate Development,” he said, referring to the the Vail/Intrawest partnership. “I’m the one that speaks on behalf of that, not Roger (McCarthy).”
McCarthy, who for three years has been Breckenridge’s chief operations officer (COO) and last month became Keystone’s COO as well, made the statement during a meeting of the Keystone Citizens League.
“I think you’ll see Intrawest leave,” he told the approximately 100 homeowners at the meeting. “One of the things we think about is, how do we move Keystone forward as Vail Resorts comes in and takes over development from Intrawest? I think that, from my standpoint, is a very exciting thing.”
Keystone Real Estate Development, which has developed River Run and is moving ahead with projects in other areas of Keystone, is a partnership between Intrawest and Vail Resorts. Canada-based Intrawest is the managing partner.
Stashick admitted the partnership may appear irrational to some. Keystone and Breckenridge, along with Vail and Beaver Creek ski resorts, are all owned by Vail Resorts. Intrawest owns Copper Mountain, putting two companies that are partners in one resort in competition with one another.
The partnership was forged in the mid-1990s, when Ralston Purina owned Keystone and well before Intrawest owned Vail Resorts’ competitor, Copper Mountain Resort.
“Obviously,” Stashick said, “we never contemplated we’d have our most major competitor as a partner. That transition happened afterward.”
Further complicating the issue, Vail Resorts filed a lawsuit in October against Intrawest on the heels of the Canadian company’s agreement with the city of Denver to redevelop the Winter Park ski area. The lawsuit accuses Intrawest of breaching a noncompete provision in the 8-year-old contract between Vail and Intrawest to develop real estate at Keystone.
“There’s no question that complicates things, but no more than when Vail Resorts acquired Breckenridge,” Stashick said. “That obviously complicated things for our lives (at Intrawest).”
Nevertheless, the two companies remain united – if strained – in their relationship at Keystone.
“It’s been described to me that we’re still a married couple, but we’re sleeping in separate rooms,” Stashick said. “Although the partnership always has ongoing talks in terms of changes of control, to date, none of them have been successful, and I’m not really changing my lifestyle today based on any of it. There’s nothing that’s imminent.”
Stashick lives in Keystone.
McCarthy said Tuesday he had no further comment on the issue.
Stashick, meanwhile, said he wants to reassure Summit County that the partnership is still working for the community. He used a hockey analogy to make his point.
“I would encourage the community to spend their time not picking which jersey they like – because clearly they’re both very top teams – but to focus more on who are their team players and who is their captain,” he said. “I think most people on a day-to-day basis are less concerned about which companies are doing what as opposed to who’s got the best chance of winning the Stanley Cup this year. Nobody’s asked Joe Sakic or Patrick Roy to go back to Canada.”
Recent management changes at Keystone Resort (on the Vail side) have made plenty of people nervous, but Stashick said the new management team is “one of the most exciting in the industry.”
He also noted that all those people are current or former Intrawest employees.
“So if somebody had to ask me who’s really running Keystone, guess what? It’s Intrawest, isn’t it?” he said. “The true challenge for the two-company team is to figure out a way for the community to participate in the team and that the community and guests have fun.
“In terms of this partnership, the big boys upstairs will continue to talk. For us at the resort level, we’ve got a job to do day-to-day, which is to stay focused on the business and what we’re delivering. I don’t work any harder on Copper Mountain than I do on Keystone.”
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