Potential new owners for Jay Peak Resort have emerged, but according to general manager Steve Wright, there’s still a long way to go before the Vermont ski resort is actually sold.
Burlington’s WCAX-TV reported that Pacific Group Resorts (PGRI) has made an offer of $58 million for the four-season resort in the Northeast Kingdom. Other prospective buyers now have 10 days to match that offer before a judge rules on the sale.
The ski area, which has been on the market for about three years, has been overseen by a court-appointed receiver since investor fraud allegations were made against past owner Ariel Quiros in 2016. Jay Peak is the largest taxpayer in Jay, Vt. About 550 people live in the municipality, located a stone’s throw from the Canadian border.
Quiros reported to a federal prison in Florida last month to begin serving five years.
“This is a step in the process but there are more steps to go that will likely continue to stretch forward into the summer,” Wright told Storm Skiing Journal and Podcast. “Signing an asset purchase agreement simply initiates and, in reality, continues, the process.”
PGRI is a Park City, Utah-based operation that currently operates five resorts, including Ragged Mountain Resort in Danbury, N.H. It also owns Wisp Resort in Maryland, Wintergreen Resort in Virginia, Powderhorn Mountain Resort in Colorado, and Mount Washington Alpine Resort in British Columbia, Canada. PGRI acquired Ragged in 2007 under the name RMR-Pacific LLC. According to New England Ski History, “At the time, the central New Hampshire resort was on the verge of a bankruptcy auction, yet featured a large amount of undeveloped, privately held land. Over the next ten years, Pacific installed a new high-speed quad, opened a dedicated snow tubing facility, and constructed a new snowmaking reservoir.”
PGRI chief financial officer Mark Fischer told Ski Area Management Magazine that the asset purchase agreement was only a step in the process.
“When a charity auctions off skis, the auctioneer asks who has $500 to start the bidding—that first bid is all we’ve done. Our bid hasn’t even been approved yet,” Fischer said. ““All that has happened is the receiver has filed a motion with the judge, and we are now waiting for the judge to approve the bid before it moves to an auction process to determine the winning bidder,” said Fischer. “After the winning bid is accepted, there are a number of closing actions that would need to be completed.”
Still, the news was met with a certain amount of excitement Monday evening. Many local skiers and riders pointed out how well Ragged has been run since being acquired by PGRI, which suggests the same will be able to be said about Jay Peak. Resort conglomerates Alterra and Vail both took a look at Jay in 2019 before both, ultimately, passed on the investment.
Wright had announced at the annual town meeting back in March that they were down to two bidders for the resort, while also easing fears that new owners would mean big changes for Jay Peak.
“The first eight innings of a sale rips on by, it happens pretty quickly, and then everything grinds to a halt in the ninth inning. We’re still sitting there in the ninth,” Wright said. “Both of them are buyers that are going to continue to let us do our thing with respect to how we run the business, things that we value.”
Eric Wilbur can be reached at email@example.com.