Faced with a significantly reduced ski tourism market and and an eroding investor base looking to buy up mountainside real estate opportunities, ski resort giant Intrawest is reported to be looking at ways to reduce its debts according to Canadian media reports in the past week.
Ski Rebel Magazine has learned the company which owns ten leading North American ski areas including next winter’s joint winter-Olympic venue, Whistler Blackcomb, could potentially consider selling one or more of its resorts, although the company itself has made no comment on this suggestion.
Intrawest is reported to have approximately $1.7-billion (US) in loans, and during the low point of the global financial collapse last autumn it managed to re-finance the debt to save needing to seek creditor protection.
The original owners sold the company at the peak of its financial success in 2006 to Fortress Investment Group LLC for $2.8-billion.
At the Canadian Ski Council’s annual conference in Whistler, Intrawest president Bill Jensen delivered a sobering speech declaring the ski industry would be mired in hard times for at least the next two years. ‘Things are not looking good,” he said while speaking about the general situation.
Intrawest was established in the 1970s and has gradually grown over three decades, acquiring Whistler Mountain in 1996 and then many other noteworthy resorts including Tremblant and Copper Mountain, Winter Park and Steamboat in Colorado.
The innovation brought on by Intrawest in the ski market may just be too hard for the company to climb out of, as it struggles with an aging demographic and declining real estate sales that were largely fueled from the US market which was also coupled with a significant decline in tourism related spending.
The company has made its name and had much of its financial success on the basis of well-designed resort base pedestrian villages, generating more income from real estate than from ski area operations. Its model was brought to Europe with ski resort developments at Les Arcs and Flaine in France, and it has been copied by many other ski area operators.
- Financial situation: Debt may force selloff of Intrawest ski resorts