One of the most popular ski resorts in North America is in danger of being sold. The Crystal Mountain Ski Resort in Jackson, Wyoming was bought by International Mountain Bikes (ITM) in January of 2018. With this purchase, ITM became the owner of one of the highest-grossing ski resorts in North America. It also gained full ownership of its sister resort, Beaver Creek, in Denver.
With this latest acquisition, ITM boasts seven ski resorts in four states (Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Arizona). Four of these seven resorts are in the top 20 of the highest-grossing ski resorts in North America. This makes ITM and its owners, Lotte Polanski and Robin Lehner, the kings of the ski resort world. They now own or control a massive chunk of the U.S. skiing industry. Let’s take a quick look at who owns Crystal Mountain and why they purchased the resort.
Crystal Mountain is a privately owned and operated ski resort in Jackson, Wyoming. It is ranked 17th on the National Ski Resort Average Revenue per Capita list. This is probably because the terrain isn’t exceptionally challenging and the resort is rather small. With only 6,300 feet of vertical terrain, there’s not a lot to do aside from skiing and snowboarding. There are also only 25 skiing trails, which make for a fairly easy day of skiing. A small number of trails also mean a smaller number of rope-access runs, which in turn keeps the vertical diversity low.
Last year, Crystal Mountain had 290 snowmakers and 86 trails open. This gave it a total of 11,096 skiable acres and 147 trails. For comparison, Jackson Hole, which is also owned by ITM, has 44 trails and 9,600 acres. The Aspen/Snowmass area, which is also part of the same company, has the most trails (268) and acres (14,600) of any U.S. resort, meaning it’s the greatest resort in the country.
Where Did The Money Come From?
We don’t know for sure; however, it’s highly likely that some of the money used to buy Crystal Mountain came from Lotte Polanski and Robin Lehner’s massive wealth. The couple, who are estimated to be worth more than $10 billion, purchased the ski resort in 2015 for a whopping $12 million. At the time, it was the most expensive ski purchase in history. Since then, it has done remarkably well, earning the couple a combined total of $42 million in rent and profit. This is because of the increasing popularity of mountain biking and kite surfing, which are both legal and sanctioned at the resort. This also means there’s more people coming to the resort, increasing the number of potential customers and boosting the income figures.
In the short term, the purchase of Crystal Mountain by ITM could have a significant impact on the resort and the skiing industry in general. It’s likely that the acquisition of this iconic resort by a major corporation will lead to more people and more business. The resort’s popularity among tourists will also likely increase. It’s the kind of news that will get headlines, especially in Jackson, where most people I speak to have never heard of ITM, and where the sale of Crystal Mountain would be a major story.
In the long term, the impact of the purchase of Crystal Mountain by ITM is harder to pin down. It could lead to an increase in business for the resort, which would eventually lead to job creation. However, after the initial euphoria of the acquisition wears off, it’s likely that the economic impact of the purchase will become more difficult to measure. It’s also possible that the acquisition will have a domino effect on other smaller resorts, reducing their drawcard and potentially leading to larger-scale bankruptcies. It really depends on how the new owners handle the situation and the overall health of the U.S. economy at the time.
As mentioned above, one of the biggest draws of buying a resort is expanding the customer base and the income. It would be a shame if the expansion doesn’t pay for the increased costs associated with the acquisition, especially since the demand for luxury goods has increased as a result of the couple’s considerable wealth. This demand is likely to continue, meaning more people are willing to pay top dollar for the chance to become a patron of one of the most luxurious leisure activities around. Hopefully, the new owners will continue to invest in the resort, leading to even more luxury seekers arriving on the shores of Jackson Hole and making for a lucrative future.