Famous Squaw Ski Resort gets sold

Posted By: Steve Bellamy on November 23, 2010 5:46 am

Squaw Valley, one of the most renowned ski resorts in the world, the resort famous for being tattooed daily by the sports’ elite…Shane McConkey, JT Holmes, (insert 60 famous skiers names) has been sold to KSL Capital Partners for an undisclosed amount of money.  KSL, a private equity firm in the resort sector owns some of the nicest US luxury resorts including La Costa and the Hotel del Coronado.  The firm is stating that they will be spending $50MM of cap ex over the next 3 to 5 years on the storied ski resort.

Squaw Valley was founded in 1949 by Alexander Cushing and successfully hosted the 1960 Olympic Winter Games.  “Squaw Valley and the Cushing family have been synonymous for more than 60 years,” said Nancy W. Cushing, Squaw Valley USA Chairman of the Board. “Alex’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 Valley’s continued improvement and success for generations to come.”

Although KSL has not really been in the business outside of some smaller plays, the companies founders Eric Resnick and Michael Shannon have deep ski industry roots.  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.

Squaw 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,” said Resnick, KSL’s Managing Director.  “With Squaw Valley USA, Alex Cushing made a profound impact on the snowsports industry and we’re honored to build upon the resort’s legacy.”

KSL also stated that they will be keeping newby CEO, Andy Wirth who is super respected in the ski industry even though he has only been at Squaw a short time.

“In the short period of time he’s been at Squaw Valley, all of us at KSL recognize that Andy’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,” said Resnick.

“KSL’s pending acquisition of Squaw Valley is great news for our guests and our dedicated, hardworking team,” stated Wirth. “KSL’s expertise in hospitality, recreation, and guest service will provide the support and resources for Squaw Valley’s talented management team to advance the resort’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.”