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Northern Rockies/Alberta ALTERRA MOUNTAIN COMPANY TO ACQUIRE SCHWEITZER IN IDAHO

Tricia

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ALTERRA MOUNTAIN COMPANY TO ACQUIRE SCHWEITZER IN IDAHO
The new mountain addition will add to the company’s family of destinations in the Pacific Northwest

DENVER, CO, June 1, 2023Alterra Mountain Company has announced that it has entered into an agreement to purchase Idaho’s Schweitzer, further expanding the company’s portfolio in the Pacific Northwest by joining Crystal Mountain in Washington. The addition of Schweitzer will bring the company’s portfolio to 17 year-round mountain destinations throughout North America.

Schweitzer is the largest ski area in Idaho and Washington, located in the Selkirk Mountains overlooking the picturesque town of Sandpoint, Idaho, only 80 miles from Spokane, Washington. This beloved destination offers 2,900 acres of big mountain terrain with stunning views of Lake Pend Oreille, Washington, Montana, and Canada and is often recognized for its renowned tree skiing and family fun.

“With an incredible mountain in one of the most beautiful settings in the country and a world-class operating team, Schweitzer has everything we look for in a destination,” said Jared Smith, President & CEO, Alterra Mountain Company. “The mountain has been a valued partner on the Ikon Pass for several seasons, so we’ve been able to see the exceptional team, community, and opportunities for continued investment up close.”

Tom Chasse, who has been with Schweitzer since 2006 will stay on as President and CEO. He will continue to oversee daily operations of the destination as well as future capital improvement plans, which include the development of the new Schweitzer Creek Village portal, adding approximately 1,400 additional parking spots with easy access to the new Creekside Quad lift. Eventually, Schweitzer Creek Village will also be home to a new day lodge and other skier amenities.

“Since becoming an Ikon Pass partner in 2021, we’ve had the good fortune of learning how Alterra Mountain Company has quickly evolved into an industry leader,” said Tom Chasse, President and CEO of Schweitzer. “The company’s commitment to preserving the authenticity of their mountain communities while investing in the overall mountain experience is what we’re most looking forward to as the newest member of the Alterra family.”

In the last decade, Schweitzer has invested over $100M in capital to fortify itself as a premier destination in the Pacific Northwest, including terrain expansion and new lifts, a new on-mountain lodge, Sky House, and Humbird, a 31-unit boutique hotel in Schweitzer's village.

The MKM Trust, which has been the owner and developer of Schweitzer for the past 18 years, will retain non-ski operations and real estate holdings, and will continue to lead future real estate development projects that support the vibrancy of the Schweitzer community.

There are no changes to Ikon Pass 23/24 winter access at this time.

The transaction is expected to close later in 2023, and is subject to certain closing conditions, including regulatory approvals. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. More details will be released once the transaction has closed.

Alterra Mountain Company’s destinations offer premium ski, snowboard and all-season activities for those who seek adventure, freedom, and fun in the great outdoors. Alterra Mountain Company mountain destinations are spread throughout six states and three Canadian provinces: Steamboat and Winter Park Resort in Colorado; Palisades Tahoe, Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain, Big Bear Mountain Resort and Snow Valley in California; Sugarbush and Stratton in Vermont; Snowshoe in West Virginia; Tremblant in Quebec, Blue Mountain in Ontario; Crystal Mountain in Washington; Deer Valley Resort and Solitude Mountain Resort in Utah; and CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures in British Columbia. Alterra Mountain Company was created when affiliates of KSL Capital Partners and affiliates of Henry Crown and Company initially purchased Intrawest, Mammoth Resorts, and Deer Valley Resort in 2017.

At each destination, Alterra Mountain Company leaders are empowered to be decisive, creative, and bold in order to retain each mountain’s authentic character. Recognizing the innate value of the unique culture found at each of the mountain communities, Alterra Mountain Company’s goal is to preserve, sustain and support its two most important resources: the mountains and the people who live and play in them.

In January 2018, Alterra Mountain Company introduced the Ikon Pass for winter 18/19, the premier ski and snowboard season pass. Today, the Ikon Pass offers skiers and riders access to over 50 mountain destinations throughout the Americas, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.
 

fatbob

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Sandpoint locals complaining about their resort being ruined in 5,4,3...

Or maybe not because it's not proximate to a large urban centre of drive ups.
 

JohnL

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Not a huge surprise.

Would likely mean Schweitzer full season ticket as part of Ikon pass? Schweitzer could use more parking at the mountain. And is very short of places to stay up at the mountain. Unfortunately, will increase the crowds...

Bigger impact may be to surrounding area. Sandpoint is not huge wrt lodging. And that access road requires climbing gear.

How long has Crystal been owned by Alterra?
 

John O

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How long has Crystal been owned by Alterra?

5 seasons, but they announced it in September of 2018, so that first season people had already made their pass decisions for the most part. The 19/20 season was the first season where you saw a major impact at Crystal due to the Ikon pass.
 

David Chaus

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that's unfortunate..
How so?

I find this interesting. Maybe not all that surprising. I'm not upset, and don't see this as a problem. At least not yet.

IIRC in 2005 Schweitzer's previous ownership Harbor Resorts dissolved, which left the McCaw family, or an investment group of theirs as the owners. I guess the name has changed since then to MKM Trust. Regardless, while Schweitzer was an "independent" resort, the have not been a locally owned ski area for a long time.

Here's the thing: with Alterra there is now more money to work on their expansion projects, and unlike most other resorts, all the land is their private property, so they can add capacity or update much more quickly. In the past few years they added the Skyhouse at the top, replaced an old double chair with an express quad and a fixed triple, and are in process of replacing and realigning the beginner chair from a double to an express quad, adjacent to adding an additional base for day skiers at the lower parking lot, and that will be followed with a terrain expansion that connects the new lower base to the Stella terrain pod with easy access to the rest of the backside. This will take crowding (which doesn't yet exist) and spread it out both in bases and terrain.

Schweitzer has never been a crowded resort and it seems they are trying to keep it that way. Parking capacity was an obvious limitation, so expanding the existing lower lot and upgrading the road access to get there from the roundabout is a welcome improvement. The current road to the lower lot is not exactly a direct route.

So it has terrain and infrastructure capacity for a lot more people on the slopes. The parking is designed to get from your vehicle to the slopes quickly and easily.

I still think Schweitzer will not be anywhere near as busy as most Alterra-owned resorts, or Ikon-affiliated resorts. To get there from anywhere other than the west coast requires a connecting flight through either Denver or SLC, and most people can't get it through their heads that it could totally be worth to make that connection rather than stick to more well-known resorts. So I think it will still be a great destination for people like myself who can drive there in about 6 hours.

Will it suck for locals? No more than it already does. If they don't like the changing vibe of the place, it's already kind of late for that given the updates that have been going on at the base and around the resort.

I'd be most concerned about how they treat employees and how well they partner with Sandpoint and Ponderay as far as affordable employee housing and other issues. Otherwise I doubt I'dd see much difference in the ski experience.
 

Tom K.

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They are already Ikon, so not sure this will have much impact w/r/t crowding?

Would love to hear from some locals -- who might end up with full Ikon passes as their defacto season pass, like Steamboat.
 

Crank

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Not unfortunate for me says the Ikon pass holding guy who has been thinking about checking out this hill for the last 9 years. Easier to get to than that place in Alaska we were talking about not that long ago.
 

Daves not here

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I am a local with a condo up at the hill. Very curious how this plays out. I don’t know much about how the rest of their portfolio operates - both good and bad.

As has been stated - the vibe of the mountain has been changing for a while. No more local mountain. Ikon pass and pandemic accelerated that.

Not sure what to expect or how I feel about it just yet.
 

scott43

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I am a local with a condo up at the hill. Very curious how this plays out. I don’t know much about how the rest of their portfolio operates - both good and bad.

As has been stated - the vibe of the mountain has been changing for a while. No more local mountain. Ikon pass and pandemic accelerated that.

Not sure what to expect or how I feel about it just yet.
As a condo owner you might get some cash out of it .
 

Wade

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How so?

I find this interesting. Maybe not all that surprising. I'm not upset, and don't see this as a problem. At least not yet.

IIRC in 2005 Schweitzer's previous ownership Harbor Resorts dissolved, which left the McCaw family, or an investment group of theirs as the owners. I guess the name has changed since then to MKM Trust. Regardless, while Schweitzer was an "independent" resort, the have not been a locally owned ski area for a long time.

Here's the thing: with Alterra there is now more money to work on their expansion projects, and unlike most other resorts, all the land is their private property, so they can add capacity or update much more quickly. In the past few years they added the Skyhouse at the top, replaced an old double chair with an express quad and a fixed triple, and are in process of replacing and realigning the beginner chair from a double to an express quad, adjacent to adding an additional base for day skiers at the lower parking lot, and that will be followed with a terrain expansion that connects the new lower base to the Stella terrain pod with easy access to the rest of the backside. This will take crowding (which doesn't yet exist) and spread it out both in bases and terrain.

Schweitzer has never been a crowded resort and it seems they are trying to keep it that way. Parking capacity was an obvious limitation, so expanding the existing lower lot and upgrading the road access to get there from the roundabout is a welcome improvement. The current road to the lower lot is not exactly a direct route.

So it has terrain and infrastructure capacity for a lot more people on the slopes. The parking is designed to get from your vehicle to the slopes quickly and easily.

I still think Schweitzer will not be anywhere near as busy as most Alterra-owned resorts, or Ikon-affiliated resorts. To get there from anywhere other than the west coast requires a connecting flight through either Denver or SLC, and most people can't get it through their heads that it could totally be worth to make that connection rather than stick to more well-known resorts. So I think it will still be a great destination for people like myself who can drive there in about 6 hours.

Will it suck for locals? No more than it already does. If they don't like the changing vibe of the place, it's already kind of late for that given the updates that have been going on at the base and around the resort.

I'd be most concerned about how they treat employees and how well they partner with Sandpoint and Ponderay as far as affordable employee housing and other issues. Otherwise I doubt I'dd see much difference in the ski experience.
I had the same reaction to the “that’s unfortunate” post.

For a resort a good distance away from major metro areas and already an Ikon partner, I don’t get it. What’s going to change for the worse? Why is it unfortunate?

Alterra bought my home mountain a few years ago now, and while it isn’t perfect, they’ve generally been good stewards of the mountain - they’ve invested, they’ve done a decent job of addressing employee housing, the mountain ops are mostly well run, and they treat pass holders well.

It isn’t perfect. There are the same gripes about snow making, open terrain and lifts, grooming etc. that exist at most other mountains, but looking at those things objectively, I think Alterra has done a well above average job on all of them.
 

JohnL

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5 seasons, but they announced it in September of 2018, so that first season people had already made their pass decisions for the most part. The 19/20 season was the first season where you saw a major impact at Crystal due to the Ikon pass.
Curious as to your input on how things changed.
 

Tom K.

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Not unfortunate for me says the Ikon pass holding guy who has been thinking about checking out this hill for the last 9 years.

But they are already an Ikon resort (since '21), so not sure how Alterra ownership changes your situation?
 

Bad Bob

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The distance from major population bases will be Schweitzer's saving grace. This should also shine the light on this entire region and all 5 ares in the neighborhood. They could all use more skier days.
 

JohnL

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The distance from major population bases will be Schweitzer's saving grace. This should also shine the light on this entire region and all 5 ares in the neighborhood. They could all use more skier days.
And from the rest of the US. You have to fly past a lot of ski areas to get there from East and West Coasts, and major cities in between.

And for selfish reasons, I’m hoping their grace remains saved.
 

John O

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Curious as to your input on how things changed.

It got massively more crowded.

The first season, 19/20, they didn't have any measures in place to deal with it. No reservations, no parking reservations, nothing. It was a disaster. A weekend drive that would have normally taken me about 1:45 was taking about 2:45 on a "good" day and well over 3 hrs on a bad day. The 45 mile long 2 lane road to get there just couldn't handle the traffic volume. Once you got on the mountain (assuming you managed to get parking before it was full), it actually wasn't too terrible, but the road infrastructure just couldn't support the extra volume.

After that, they tried a variety of measures to manage the volume including paid parking on weekends for non-pass holders, parking reservations on weekends, and stopping the sale of all single day lift tickets on weekends.

For the 22/23 season, they attempted to deal with it by moving Crystal from unlimited on the Ikon pass to only 5/7 days, and you had to buy an $1800 Crystal-only pass if you wanted a season pass. That priced me out and I switched to the Epic pass and Stevens instead this year. From what I understand though, it worked. Sounds like the mountain was substantially less crowded on weekends than previous seasons.

I will say, for the 4 seasons I skied at Crystal under Alterra's ownership (and part of a 5th, I went up for several days this spring after Stevens closed down), I'm fairly happy with how Alterra has been running the mountain. I'm not privy to how things are behind the scenes, but from my perspective in terms of getting terrain and lifts open, keeping the season running as long as they can, etc., I was happy with the job they're doing. Happier than I am with how Vail is running Stevens. I'd rather be at Crystal but I just can't justify the price.


As to how that all relates to Schweitzer? I'm sure it will get more crowded but I have to think that it won't get anywhere near as bad as what happened to Crystal because there just isn't as big of a market there like Crystal has with Seattle. All the Seattle ski areas were already over capacity, the mega-passes just made it worse.

And even though Schweitzer is a better destination resort than Crystal (Crystal has extremely limited lodging), I would think that Ikon pass holders that wanted to fly in and take advantage of their Ikon pass were already doing that this year.
 

Wade

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The distance from major population bases will be Schweitzer's saving grace. This should also shine the light on this entire region and all 5 ares in the neighborhood. They could all use more skier days.
Agreed. It’s not like SLC where there are masses of people who’ll now have access to the area on a pass they would already buy anyway.
 

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