For Andy
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johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
March 5, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,922 posts
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[Big Grin] [Big Grin] [Big Grin]

PS Jonathan Jessup gave me permission to link to this image.
andy
March 6, 2004
Member since 03/6/2004 🔗
175 posts
For me johnf? you shouldn't have..yes you should & thank you for your support!That mtn has been waiting to come alive for too long.Looks like its got some steeps on the front side like stowe & a lot of variable terrain around it.There is a north facing side to this mtn(flatrock run)& jon has a gorgeous pic of it with snow on top in may!Well fellas & fellitas This is the best WV has to offer & to let it be enjoyed by 2 farmers & a few salamanders Is just a downright shame!!!Please post a few salamander recipes people.All you hunters...the deer are bigger & tastier lower down.You hikers will be able to finally make it to the top of MT POINT CRAYON after its been cleared off!Don't forget you granola crunching nature lovers That there is 19 square miles of plateau up on that range to play on..all us skiers need is a few acres at the top.Peace in the middle east(the mid atlantic highlands)
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
March 7, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,922 posts
Andy:

If you subscribe to Business Week, I suggest you check out the article on JeanPierre Boespflug's struggle to build a new ski resort in Idaho called Tamarack. Boespflug needs $1.5 billion to create a 62 run/14 lift resort. He intends to raise this capital by selling 2,043 residential units on 2,500 acres of property leased from the state for 49 years. What happens to those properties after the 49 year land lease runs out is a big question mark. According to the article, America has not seen a similar destination resort open in 23 years. The last major destination resort to be built from scratch was Deer Valley in 1981.

The article will give you a good idea of the type of challenges that Bright faces in building Almost Heaven. Even though Almost Heaven will be smaller than Tamarac, Bright will need to spend much more money on snowmaking than Tamarac, so his up front expenses are going to be high. He'll need much more snowmaking infrastructure than Tamarac: reservoirs, pipes
pumps, snow guns, power Lines, transformers, air compressors, tower guns, etc.

I'm not saying its impossible but Bright will have to sell a lot of property to break even on this venture. Do I think there is a market? Absolutely. Do I think Bright can line up all the ducks necessary to make this happen? Who knows?
bawalker
March 7, 2004
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
Has it been confirmed where Bright is settling his sights on? I also heard that he was looking at a ghost town of a closed ski resort near Harmon as well as several other locations throughout the state that were once to have been opened but closed.

This is just a thought off the top of my head, would there be a way that someone like me down the road could get rich, and simply finance the whole development or the majority of it from out of pocket finances rather than overly 'poluting' the land with housing developments and condos?
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johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
March 7, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,922 posts
Bawalker:

The conventional wisdom is that Almost Heaven is Bright's first choice. Also, he's taken out options with several large landholders there. But options are not the same as purchasing land. They can and do expire.

Boespflug has put $28 million of his own money towards Tamarac and that's considered excessive. You would probably need to make hundreds of millions of dollars to build this resort, and even if you had that kind of money, why would you give it away to the ski community for no return on your investment? The short answer to your question is that ski resorts do not get built in this country today without property sales to pay for the huge amounts of money a developer requires to build a resort.

Tamarack has sold 104 property sites thus far and no lift has gone up (in May, 52 more lots will go up for sale).

The hope of the developer is that these sales will convince the venture capitalists and bankers to loan him enough capital to break ground on the resort this summer.

His plan is as follows:

"Two quad chairs and a surface platter lift will be installed summer of 2004. Ultimately, there will be 1,100 skiable acres with 7 high speed chair lifts and numerous surface lifts. Summit is at 7,700 feet with 2,800 feet vertical fall."

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I will watching with eager eyes to see if he pulls this off. If he does, that will bode well for Almost Heaven (wherever it may end up). If Boespflug fails, however, I don't see how Almost Heaven can succeed. It's a big litmus test for the industry as a whole. [Wink]

http://www.tamarackidaho.com/index.htm
WP_Employee
March 7, 2004
Member since 03/7/2004 🔗
83 posts
I have to strongly disagree with what it is you say is a litmus test for the rest of the industry (or even Bright himself).

The market conditions and the individuals running these resorts are about as different as they can be.

First of all, in the Mid-Atlantic the ability for a person who loves skiing to own a home is not only difficult (availability), but property choices are anything but robust. Aside from Snowshoe and Seven Springs... there are not many other "resorts" that bode well for property owners as it is (Timberline would bode well if the management was a little better, an issue discussed at length in the past here).

Bright has experience not only running a resort, but bringing one back from what was almost certain death in the late 80's/ early 90's (New Winterplace).

A resort built out west is up against competition that is unreal -- colorado resorts, washington, montana -- the amount of real estate already developed in the west allows someone to literally shop around for the resort that suits them best.

Bright is basing his decision on the fact that WV has a very fast growing market for second home sales. According to last years statistics, Snowshoe lead the state in second home sales. There is no other resort in WV, or arguably in the region, that provides the services that Snowshoe does on a daily basis, atleast right now. So what competition does Shoe have?

You must also consider Almost Heaven's potential competition: if developed correctly, nothing. Almost Heaving, if developed with a strong master plan, would be nearly untouchable south of NY (if the final site does prove to me Mt Porte Crayon).

So... even if this individual does fail, it will not change Bright's decision to build or not build this resort. If I opened up a fast food restaurant next to 10 other restaurants, I would probably fail (or atleast struggle, especially if my product was NOT #1, the Idaho individual has many top resorts to contend with). WV is a market with little development, and Almost Heaven looks to be the #1 product...

Go Bright!
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
March 8, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,922 posts
WP_Employee

There's huge competition in the region for ski homes. Wisp, 7 Springs, Whitetail, and Snowshoe all have ambitious building plans. See this article for details:

http://www.dcski.com/news/2003/05_06_2003/realestate.php3

In addition to ski homes, there are also huge 2nd home communities in the Lost River and Berkeley Springs areas of the state.

For Bright to build a resort even half the size of Tamarack on the Mount Porte Crayon site, he will need to raise money on the same scale: $750 million or more. No one has ever been able to pull off such a feat in this region.

The one thing you and I agree on is that Bright will have to sell a huge number of second home lots to pull this thing off. My question is that given competition from other resorts as well as the threat of rising interest rates, is there a market for $250,000 lots big enough for Bright to pull this off? And will people buy lots at this rate or higher BEFORE a lift is even built?

It's one thing to take over a pre-existing resort and turn it around, it's another thing altogether to build a new resort from the ground up. [Wink]
andy
March 8, 2004
Member since 03/6/2004 🔗
175 posts
Johnf ..To answer an earlier question about getting buisness week..well I was the brother who read the fishing(& skiing) mags & still had mom drive me to work .Where as my brother who read wallst journal rode to work in a limo!I'm with WP we are talking apples & oranges here.Idaho doesn't have these huge cities pressing up on them..& don't they have sun valley?PA is dev to the hilt,there is no mtn that stands out there.All of NE has had thier best mtn's dev.The west is the same story,with NC down south also maxed out,that leaves WV as bieng the last frontier.These plans that you speak of johnf will be altered or canceled if "ALMOST HEAVEN" can get a move on them.Time will play a critical role here.If because of red tape or other facters force this ski area to be compromised & cannot see even IT'S potential, then i will commit harricarri with a ski pole on top of Mt Porte Crayon!!!
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
March 8, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,922 posts
Andy:

I guess what you are saying is that "I'm living in my own private Idaho." [Wink]

The land lots at Tamarack are selling from $200,000 - $800,000 a pop. I imagine that Bright would have to sell many lots for a similar amount of money to build this resort. If there's such a market for this kind of development, why isn't a big, publicly traded company like Intrawest jumping in and doing it? Intrawest has the reputation and the access to capital to pull off a project like ALMOST HEAVEN. Why aren't they doing it? What does Bright know that the management team at Intrawest does not know?

Tamarack is different from MPC and Almost Heaven, but it's going after a similar market for second homes: rich skiers and riders. Believe it or not, places like Tamarack will be competing head to head with MPC. People who can afford to buy land starting at $250,000 for a third of an acre can certainly afford to buy out west and get there by flying. Arguably, it's easier to fly from Charlotte or Atlanta to Salt Lake City than to drive to Snowshoe or MPC.

I know several people here in DC who own ski properties out west and commute to them via the airlines. It's not that hard.
gatkinso
March 8, 2004
Member since 01/25/2002 🔗
316 posts
Too many factors make ski resorts sketchy investments. One bad winter and blammo you are out of business, they generally have are delving into the Intrawest real estate backed business model to make money.

However I read an intersting article in Hemispheres (United Airlines magazine that is in the seat back pouch) about ski resorts that are racking in the bucks by....

...you'll never guess....

...slashing the price of their lift tickects by 50%.

One mountian in NH did this (accrding to the article, I forget the name of the place) and ridership there increased 4 fold.

The masses will not come until the masses can afford it.

All that said: BRING ON ALMOST HEAVEN!
JimK - DCSki Columnist
March 8, 2004
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,714 posts
gatkinso: that topic you brought up about the success by areas that have everyday low priced lift tics is great and interesting to probably all of us. Before and during my recent ski trip to Denver it was amazing to see all the cheap ways to ski in that competitive Colorado market. I asked a Denver area local about his favorite strategy and he said "the Colorado Pass. It is hands down the best deal. For app. $320 (if you buy before the season starts) you'll get 10 days to split between Vail and Beaver Creek. That's worth the pass in itself. . . .but it doesn't stop there. It is also the unlimited skiing season pass for Breckenridge, Keystone and A-basin. That's right, five mountains for the price of one!!! AND if you don't like the snobbery of V/BC then it's called the Buddy Pass and only good at Key, Breck and Abase. But it's still $300 so it just makes sense to pay the extra 20 and get the 10 days."

That's amazing value at what used to be some of the most expensive ski areas in the US. It's a little more difficult for non-locals to get such deals, but excellent discounts on fewer number ski days are plentiful with a little research.

My only concern is that when they all live by the deep discount sword, some ski areas will start dying by the deep discount sword.
Roger Z
March 8, 2004
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Speaking of cheap passes... on the flight out to SF last week the United Airlines magazine had an article on the return to grass roots skiing prices at a number of resorts and how it is really profitable (this is valid also for Johnfmh's position on the future of Timberline). There were some startling facts in the article. Apparently the average visitor to an Intrawest ski resort skis about two hours a day on vacation (gads-- that's just enough time to get warmed up!). A ski area in Idaho or Montana-- I unfortunately forgot after vowing not to-- had a 500 dollar season pass and sold about 2500 passes a year. They were out in a rural area and they cut the pass rate to 200 bucks, and sold 25,000 passes!!! I think they also offer free rentals to any passholder who is learning how to ski for the entire season. They also mentioned a ski area outside Los Angeles that cut it's ticket to under 30 dollars and is now getting almost 500,000 visits a year.

The bottom line? These ski areas realize one of the reasons that the industry is static is that a) only die-hard addicts like us want to shelve out 50 bucks or more per trip and b) the big resorts are developing in such a way that skiing is just one diversion for a winter vacation. These smaller ski hills are cutting costs and rejuvenating the industry while helping their local communities at the same time.

As a side note: at Alpine Meadows in Lake Tahoe the ticket is permanently 39 bucks. They cut their price 20 dollars from last year and I heard at least one person complaining of how many people are showing up there now due to the low ticket price (most resorts in Tahoe also have a "parent pass" now too. If you have a kid and you switch duties watching the child/children, the ski resort will allow the parents to interchange a single lift ticket for skiing that day. Another great idea for families).

Maybe a no-frills T-line with a 20 or 25 dollar lift ticket could be extremely profitably after all. If it ramped up skier visits to 200K or 300K a year they could even afford a high speed quad at that price. Anyway it's only a matter of time if this fad catches on until some ski area around here tries it... and I bet they get a helluva lot of business because of it.
gatkinso
March 8, 2004
Member since 01/25/2002 🔗
316 posts
That must have been the same article (they also had an atricle about how Arnold Schwarteneggar is like some olympic level skiier believe it or not).

I say cut the prices to appeal to the masses the only salvation is in numbers and maybe then Corridor H will be justifiable.
Roger Z
March 8, 2004
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Sheesh you're right Gatkinso my apologies. I've been skimming the reader forum (trying to catch up after vacation) and overshot your message. I liked the article about the Gov-uh-nuh skiing too. I'm glad to know we have found the Terminator's weakness: moguls.
gatkinso
March 8, 2004
Member since 01/25/2002 🔗
316 posts
I wish I had a link to that article. I like how he skis in old wool pants and a sweater (a nice pair of Atomics however). That is some old school Alps skiing!
JimK - DCSki Columnist
March 8, 2004
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,714 posts
In February of 2003 I was skiing in the province of Salzburg, about 100 miles from Arnold's home area near the southeastern Austrian city of Graz. They are mostly very proud of his success in America, probably more so now that he's become Gov. After all, California is about 5 times larger and more populous than Austria with a much greater GNP. You could say Arnold is the most powerful Austrian on Earth. He is supposed to be a very capable recreational skier. I believe they told me he's been known to ski (after gaining movie star status) at a sizeable Austrian resort called Schladming, a little west of Graz. I heard one of his favorite places in the US is Sun Valley, the great old Idaho resort a little off the cheap airfare beaten path at this point and therefore fallen from favor with mainstream ski vacationers in recent decades. It offers a better chance of privacy for celebrity visitors. Now that he's Gov, he'll probably have to make any ski appearances at California resorts, although he's got a mind of his own.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
March 8, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,922 posts
Gat and Jimk

The issue of bargains is interesting, but it cuts both ways. Some resorts use price discrimination to keep lines small and the riff raff out. Copper's beeline pass is one example but a better example is Lech, Austria.

Lech will not issue any more permits for hotels to be built--this means that a double room at a 3 star can cost more than $300 a night (one of the highest rates for a 3 star hotel anywhere in Europe). At the same time, Lech is installing high-speed detachables as if they are going out of style. Two years ago, they installed a new high-speed, detachable six. This year, they put in a high-speed, detachable 8-pack. In total, the Lech side of the Arlberg has 5 high-speed, domed detachables-6 if you include the one at Zuers, and many, many more if you include St. Anton and Rendl. In addition to all these domed, high-speeds, they have two late model trams that can haul you 1,000 meters into the stratosphere in 4.4 minutes. New lifts and limited beds mean no lines! Two years ago after a big dump at Lech, an Austrian representative from the Doppelmayer lift company told me that I should cancel my ski trips for the next five years because he strongly believed that I would never have a ski experience that would match my stay at Lech (fortunately, he was DEAD wrong because he's never experienced a good powder day at Timberline. [Wink] )

I think we will see more polarization in the ski industry. You'll have your high-priced Lech style resorts that offer the best of everything: no lines, empty slopes, and fresh powder off piste-in other words, more space and more time. At the other end of the spectrum, you'll have resorts that appeal to the mass market with great prices.

One realtor in the Canaan Valley thinks that the only way Bright can pull of an Almost Heaven is to create a private club resort like the Yellowstone Club. This is the only way he will be able to place limits on development (which will please environmentalists) and at the same time raise the capital necessary for a big resort. This will only be a good thing for those who can afford the price of admission--sadly, that will not be me. [Frown] [Frown] [Frown]
WP_Employee
March 9, 2004
Member since 03/7/2004 🔗
83 posts
Cooper Land Management is currently developing another of Bright's holdings in WV (about 8 mins from Winterplace). Glade Springs Village (Phase 2 and 3 managed by Cooper) is about to sell out (in all, over 600 homes will be built in this golf community). I believe Bright is confident that second home sales in WV will be enough to drive development.

On a second note -- if Almost Heaven is built -- I don't see how many others could compete on real estate if everything is handled correctly. Of course, as of now this is all speculation, as someone else mentioned anything can go wrong.
andy
March 9, 2004
Member since 03/6/2004 🔗
175 posts
I know what you ment by saying Intrawest johnf,but you really ment american ski Co or another co.Intrawest owns snowshoe & "almost heaven" would be thier worst nightmare!
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