Park City resort group acquires Jay Peak Resort for $76 million
Park City-based Pacific Group Resorts made the highest bid to buy the northern Vermont ski resort Jay Peak this week.
Pacific Group Resorts, Inc., or PGRI, has three partners – all from the Park City area. The president and CEO is Vern Greco who served as the COO of another Park City based resort company, Powdr Corporation. Prior to that, he served as president and general manager of Park City Mountain Resort between 1998 and 2004.
Doug Anderson is chairman of the board for PGRI. He was the man who took United Park City Mines from a public company to private ownership under Talisker, which developed Empire Pass.
Mark Fischer serves as Executive Vice President and CFO of PRGI and is a partner is Jans, Ltd. and former CEO of Blakslee, a brand development firm.
Fischer says he partnered with Anderson in 2012. Greco joined PGRI a year later.
With the acquisition of Jay Peak, the three men now own six resorts across North America from British Columbia to New Hampshire.
Jay Peak Resort is a four-season resort in Northern Vermont, located near the Canadian border. It’s been in bankruptcy since its former owners were indicted in federal court after they misused tens of millions of foreign investor dollars. The fraud involved immigrant investors who provided some $200 million for the chance to receive a permanent green card for themselves and their families, plus a return on their investment through what’s called the federal EB-5 program.
Jay Peak had been on the market for three years before the court appointed receivership put it up for auction last month. PGRI’s $76 million bid was considered the best and highest bid. The more than 500 investors will split the proceeds of the sale, but it doesn’t come close to the estimated $260 million that was owed to them.
According to news reports, PGRI offered to acquire Jay Peak in August for $58 million, but higher bids came in, pushing the bid up to $76 million. If approved by the court, Mark Fischer says the closing will happen this fall, prior to this year’s ski and snowboard season.
The opportunity to own a resort like Jay Peak he says doesn’t come along very often.
“We want to have properties in different places, because, you don't have a great snow year some place. But it always snows someplace. So, Jay was, was in a difficult situation with their receivership and we were fortunate to find the opportunity. When they decided to market it to the public, and they marketed it to a bunch of different ski resort operators of which we were one, they also marketed it to a bunch of hotel operators because it's got a very large lodging component. It's got a big indoor waterpark. And so, we just thought it was a good asset, and it fit our portfolio.”
Even with six resorts, Fischer says they don’t plan to offer interchangeable passes like the EPIC or IKON, saying they’re not at that scale.
“Most of our resorts, people don't travel long distances to get to. It's not like a Deer Valley or a Park City or a Steamboat or something like that with people flying from all over the country, or all over the world, to get to our properties,” Fischer said. “Ours are really drive to destinations. And so, we figured we'd let Vail and Alterra fight over the you know, the big destination properties and we'd just be really good at drive to destinations.”
He added that while there is some developable land around some of their resorts, they are primarily ski resort operators, and any development, he said would have to be gravy.