If Isaac Newton’s first law is correct, the newly formed KSL/Aspen partnership is a long way from slamming on the breaks.
But just who is next on the KSL/Aspen wish list is far from certain. If we were betting men (*which we are), we’d look toward the Mountain Collective for future acquisition targets. Of those we think Sinclair Oil’s Sun Valley and Snowbasin are next up on the auction block and here’s why:
First off, let’s rule out some ski areas. Taos, Jackson Hole, Sunshine Village, and Sugarbush will all likely stay off the auction block this offseason. Why? For one– all of these ski areas are independently owned by independently wealthy individuals or equity partnerships. Secondly, most of their owners are passionate about skiing and their resort’s legacy. Simply put– they like early chair and being the mayor(s) of their respective ski area.
Chances are these owners don’t have a reason to sell out. That is unless KSL/Aspen makes an offer they can’t refuse.
And while Revelstoke and Lake Louise could also become potential targets, we think Sun Valley and Snowbasin are the primetime acquisition candidates for KSL/Aspen right now. That is as long as they get to them before Vail Resorts does.
Our reasoning lies in ownership. Ever since ski industry icon and oil tycoon Robert Holding died in 2013, ownership of both these resorts fell into the hands of the Holding family, which still owns Sinclair Oil Corporation. And while Sinclair isn’t a complete stranger to the hospitality industry (*they currently own Grand America Hotels and Resorts as well as Little America), they’re not making a fortune off the snow business either.
Unlike Sinclair Oil, KSL/Aspen specializes in owning and operating ski areas.
And without their enthusiastic patriarch calling the shots, it might be time for the kiddos to take the money and run. If they we’re to sell the two resorts, the private ownership group would all walk away with fat checks in their pockets that they could reinvest in their oil/gas operations across the western USA. Prudent business decision? You betcha.
In an article published by the Aspen Times, the Aspen Skiing Company president and CEO, Mike Kaplan acknowledged this rumor saying, “[it’s] been out there for a long time.” However, Kaplan has since said they are not pursuing a purchase of the two ski areas under Sinclair Oil.
Right now, the official spokesperson for Sinclair has denied reports of a potential sale but as we’ve seen in the past– these sort of transactions can move quicker than we ever thought possible. The only question that remains is, ‘who will be scooped up next?’ We’re putting our money on Snowbasin/Sun Valley but don’t count out Revelstoke and Lake Louise either.
Find the entire Aspen Times article here: Ski resort buying binge over for Aspen Skiing Co.?