Cushing family sells Squaw Valley
OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. and DENVER (November 23, 2010)–KSL Capital Partners, LLC announced today that it has entered into an agreement to acquire substantially all of the shares of The Squaw Valley Development Company, which includes all facets of Squaw Valley USA ski operations, the Village at Squaw Valley and related real estate holdings. The transaction is expected to close prior to year end.
Squaw Valley USA is a world-renowned mountain resort located near Lake Tahoe in Northern California, offering 4,000 acres and 2,850 vertical feet of skiing and riding spanning six peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Squaw Valley was founded in 1949 by Alexander Cushing and successfully hosted the 1960 Olympic Winter Games.
â€œSquaw Valley and the Cushing family have been synonymous for more than 60 years,â€ said Nancy W. Cushing, Squaw Valley USA Chairman of the Board. â€œAlexâ€™s dream was to create a world-class, four-season destination resort in one of the most beautiful places in the world. This transaction will result in the culmination of that dream by providing the necessary resources to ensure Squaw Valleyâ€™s continued improvement and success for generations to come.â€
KSL is a private equity firm based in Denver dedicated to investments in travel and leisure businesses. KSLâ€™s current and prior investments include some of the premier properties in travel and leisure, including Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa, Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, La Costa Resort and Spa, Doral Golf Resort & Spa, Hotel del Coronado, the Claremont Hotel Club & Spa, the San Francisco Bay Club and its sister clubs, as well as ClubCorp, the worldâ€™s largest owner of private golf and business clubs.
KSLâ€™s founders, Eric Resnick and Michael Shannon, also have extensive hands-on experience in the snowsports industry. From 1985 to 1992, Shannon was President of Vail Associates, a predecessor company to Vail Resorts. Resnick held a variety of positions at Vail, including Vice President of Strategic Planning and Treasurer from 1996 through 2000. Both Shannon and Resnick also serve as board members for the United States Ski & Snowboard Team Foundation and the Vail Valley Foundation, and Resnick is on the Organizing Committee of the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships.
â€œSquaw Valley is the birthplace of the modern mountain resort in the United States with a heritage, history, amenities and perhaps most of all, extraordinary terrain that can never be recreated,â€ said Resnick, KSLâ€™s Managing Director. â€œWith Squaw Valley USA, Alex Cushing made a profound impact on the snowsports industry and weâ€™re honored to build upon the resortâ€™s legacy.â€
Recently appointed Squaw Valley President and CEO Andy Wirth will continue in his role. Wirth came to Squaw Valley in August 2010 after maintaining executive level positions with Intrawest, based out of Vancouver, British Columbia and Steamboat, Colorado, and has 24 years of experience in the mountain resort and hospitality industry.
â€œIn the short period of time heâ€™s been at Squaw Valley, all of us at KSL recognize that Andyâ€™s extensive experience and leadership has already had a profound and positive impact on the operations. We look forward to working with him to create an even brighter future for Squaw Valley,â€ said Resnick.
â€œKSLâ€™s pending acquisition of Squaw Valley is great news for our guests and our dedicated, hardworking team,â€ stated Wirth. â€œKSLâ€™s expertise in hospitality, recreation, and guest service will provide the support and resources for Squaw Valleyâ€™s talented management team to advance the resortâ€™s enterprise-wide focus on the guest experience. The KSL team has already committed more than $50 million in capital improvements over the next three to five years here at Squaw, clearly supporting their commitment to the mountain and guest experience.â€
For the 2010-11 season Squaw Valley has undertaken more than $5 million in capital improvements, including renovation of the famous Olympic House and Gold Coast facilities. These renovations are a part of the companyâ€™s comprehensive focus on all facets of the guestâ€™s dining experience. Additionally, in support of the resortâ€™s augmented focus on the quality of the snow surface and trail grooming, the company has also purchased three additional state-of-the-art snow cats, complementing its current fleet of 22 grooming machines. This is part of an intense focus on grooming and snow surface quality that will result in a 25% increase of grooming operations.
â€œSquaw Valley is renowned for the challenging, if not legendary, lines off KT-22 and the entire mountain. The resort also offers some of the best and most extensive terrain for beginner and intermediate skiers and riders in North America. The companyâ€™s commitment to providing even more grooming will help ensure the finest, most enjoyable snow surface possible for our customers who are seeking world class groomed skiing and riding,â€ stated Wirth.
Squaw Valley USA opened for winter operations on Saturday, November 20th. Through the weekend a strong winter storm brought nearly 6 feet of snow to the mountain with 2 to 3 more feet expected this week.
About Squaw Valley USA
Squaw Valley USA was founded in 1949 and hosted the 1960 Winter Olympic Games, the first televised Olympics. Squaw Valley is one of the largest and most diverse mountain resorts in North America, with incomparable outdoor recreational amenities that attract both local residents and visitors from around the globe. For more information, please visit www.squaw.com
About KSL Capital Partners
KSL Capital Partners is a private equity firm dedicated to investments in travel and leisure businesses. KSL Capital Partners has offices in Denver and New York. For more information, please visit www.kslcapital.com.
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Freeskier Magazine—This is skiing.