Jay Peak Resort, VT, has a new owner. The auction for the resort concluded yesterday after a full day of bidding, reports Alan J Keays for the VTDigger. Utah-based Pacific Group Resorts, Inc. won the auction with the highest bid of $76 million.
PGRI owns and operates five other North American ski areas: Ragged Mountain, NH; Wisp, MD; Wintergreen, VI; Powderhorn, CO; and Mount Washington Alpine, British Columbia.
Steve Wright, President and General Manager of Jay Peak, said there were three active bidders. The bidding started at 11 am with the $58-million offered by Pacific Group Resorts, Inc. (PGRI) five weeks ago. After the second bid of $59.75-million, each subsequent bid increased by $250,000.
“The process today has been very aggressive in terms of pushing the number up. We can’t push where we’re at but we feel extraordinarily good of where we’re at right now.”
– Steve Wright told the VTDigger
A final sale hearing is set for September 16th in federal court in Miami and the transaction is expected to close before the 2022-23 season.
Pacific Group Resorts, Inc. (PGRI) started the auction with a $58 million asset purchase agreement (APA) to acquire Jay Peak Resort, VT, reported Ski Area Management on August 1st. The deadline for other companies to enter bids was delayed from August 26th, 2022, to September 2nd, 2022.
Steve Wright told VTDigger that there had been a surge in interest since the initial $58-million offer was submitted.
“There are multiple potential (and incremental) bidders at this point, but not at liberty to really disclose specifics at this point.”
– Steve Wright told VTDigger
The resort has been under court-appointed receivership since 2016, when fraud charges were brought against co-owners Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger. The two men used the EB-5 Immigration Visa program to defraud foreign investors in the resort’s expansion in what was a “Ponzi-like scheme.” Quiros pleaded guilty to money laundering and is currently serving a five-year sentence. Stenger was also sentenced after pleading guilty.
“The time has come for the Receiver to sell the Jay Peak Resort. When the Receiver took over the Jay Peak Resort in April, 2016, it was on the verge of collapse having little money and making very little profit. In fact, the Receiver had many sleepless nights during the summer of 2016 wondering if he would be able to even make payroll. Now, after more than 6 years, the Jay Peak Resort is significantly more profitable and hundreds of jobs have been saved. The Receiver attributes this success to his top-notch management team and the dedicated employees who work tirelessly to make Jay Peak one of the greatest ski resorts in the country.”
– Michael Goldberg, court-appointed receiver
Regarding other buyers, Alterra and Vail Resorts checked out the ski resort back in 2019. Walter Elander, Jay Peak’s director of mountain planning and development, talked about the sale progress, including visits by potential buyers, according to the minutes from a 2019 meeting.
“The first one is Alterra, they possibly have the funds, second is FoSun (privately owned), third is Pacific Group, fourth is two different groups Snow Operating and a fund called Oz, fifth is AWH (privately owned). He (Elander) stated Vail showed no interest in Jay Peak.”
– Walter Elander
Jay Peak has the largest average annual snowfall (359”) of any ski area east of the Rockies. It has 81 runs on 385 acres and is served by nine chairlifts.