Who Owns Jay Peak Ski Resort? [Fact Checked!]

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This past week we had the great opportunity to visit Jay Peak and take a closer look at what makes this popular ski resort tick. Since the mid-1980s, Jay Peak has been consistently rated one of the best ski resorts in North America so it comes as no surprise that it is owned by the same company that owns the incredibly popular Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. We were there to learn more, and while we were fortunate enough to catch the tail end of an amazingly powdery ski season, the real question still remains; Who owns Jay Peak? We set out to try and answer this question, and in doing so we compiled a list of everything you should know about this ski resort.

Basic Information:

Jay Peak is located in Northern New York state, approximately 90 miles northwest of Albany. The resort is open from mid-June to early October and offers a wide variety of skiing and riding holidays. It is the fifth largest ski resort in North America, with 483 trails spanning across five different areas. On average, each trail has 10,000 to 20,000 skier visits per year.

The resort is a true ski-in/ski-out destination with a vertical drop of 3,600 feet that leads to the heart of the White Mountain. The elevation is around 7,600 feet, and the climate is cold and icy. The snow season usually begins around the third week of June and continues until October.

The ski pass at Jay Peak costs $66 for adults, $45 for children between 3 and 12, and is good for all trails and all days. Nightly rentals at the resort are $25 for adults, $18 for children. Day passes at the nearby Town of Manchester are $59 for adults and $32 for children. Those are just the base prices, additional fees include meal plans at the resort’s restaurants and lodging that can get pretty expensive. Fortunately, the resort does offer a variety of group discounts so you can enjoy the peak season without having to break the bank.

History:

Longtime locals may still refer to the ski area as “New England Ski Resort” since it was originally built and operated as such. Back in the 1960s and early ’70s, the fledgling ski industry sought to cash in on the popularity of the White Mountain and its majestic beauty by developing similar ski resorts across the country. These ski resorts, like Jay Peak, were built for the purpose of promoting the sale of ski equipment and the practice of skiing in general. The idea was to create a resort image that would entice potential holidaymakers to buy equipment and go skiing.

The first official ski area in New England was built in the Town of Wilmington, located in Massachusetts. Construction began in 1965 and the resort received its first snow in February 1967. The following year the ski trails were opened for the season, which was a big deal back then as snow in New England was truly something special.

Skiing became a winter sport in earnest when the 1972 season kicked off with a massive storm that dropped 30 inches of snow on the Massachusetts resort. In 1982, the Town of Wilmington sold the resort to a company called New England Enterprises who promptly changed its name to Jay Peak. Since that time, the resort has been consistently popular and receives around 300 to 500 inches of snow each year. This makes it one of the top ten largest ski resorts in North America. In 2012, Jay Peak became the first North American ski resort to allow group rides on its gondolas. In the summer of 2014, the resort introduced its new kids’ program named the Lil’ Beasties. It is an initiative which aims to get kids more involved in active sports, especially in regard to hockey. Since its inception, the program has been a huge success and allows children to play on the same team as professional athletes.

Ownership:

In the 1980s, a company called New England Enterprises purchased the New England Ski Resort. The company then changed the name to Jay Peak. In 1997, New England Enterprises was purchased by a Florida-based corporation named BizEaze Inc. BizEaze then promptly changed its name to the present day ownership company, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. It is this company’s fifth acquisition in the region. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort now owns and operates both the Jackson Hole and Jay Peak resorts as well as the Grand Teton in Wyoming. If you’ve been to any of these resorts in the past, you know that they are all connected and operate under the same ownership. This fact will no doubt make you a regular at your favorite resort.

Award Winning Resort:

Since 1967, Jay Peak has been recognized for its unparalleled beauty and ski-in/ski-out accessibility with the Audubon International Award. This prestigious award is presented annually to resorts around the world that exemplify balance between ecologically sound stewardship and maximum economic benefit. According to the National Park Service, “The national and international parks system was founded on the concept of wilderness protection and ecological preservation. The award recognizes Jay Peak’s commitment to sustainability and excellence in visitor experience.”

In 2013, the New York Times recognized Jay Peak as one of the country’s best ski resorts, calling it, “One of the most beautiful places you will ever see, and probably the most popular ski resort in the country.” The newspaper went on to say that, “its position as a top ski resort is more or less guaranteed by its extraordinary beauty.”

Renaissance Man:

Michael Wiedenbaum, the founder of both Jackson Hole and Jay Peak, has a dream – to own, operate, and manage a top-tier ski resort. He began his illustrious career in the ski industry in the 1960s and spent the next few decades working his way up to the top. During his time at Jackson Hole, he purchased and improved several ski trails and the Snowflake lift. He also invested heavily in snowmaking and snow grooming equipment. In 1997, he established the Bear Creek Inn, a luxury hotel and restaurant, on the site of his former bachelor pad. In 2012, Wiedenbaum opened yet another hotel – this one at the base of the Snowflake lift.

With a net worth of $150 million, Wiedenbaum now owns and operates a total of six top-tier resorts: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, located in Wyoming; Snowbird Ski and Resort, located in the U.S. state of Utah; the Diamond Peak Resort and Casino in California; the Homie the Dog Ski & Snowboard Camp in Washington state; and Jay Peak in New York. As you can see, this gentleman is truly a renaissance man in the world of ski-in/ski-out snow sports. He has achieved so much despite his advanced years; at 77 years old he is one of the industry’s great pioneer-owners.

Wiedenbaum has long been known for his philanthropy and community involvement. In the 1960s, he established the Michael Wiedenbaum Foundation which provides grants to local schools and cultural organizations in the area. He currently serves on the board of the Nature Conservancy and is a major funder of the Aspen Institute’s Environmental Leadership Program.

Matching Mates:

Like Michael Wiedenbaum, the founder of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Jack Steele also has extensive business experience in the ski industry. In fact, his experience dates back to before the turn of the century when he helped establish the Sierra Nevada Federation of Ski Areas. Following World War II, Steele worked as a ski instructor and then as a professional snowboarder. In 1960, he founded Jack Steele Ski Rentals and the following year he purchased the Park Lodge, the resort’s first true ski lodge. He also established the Children’s Adventure Camp which provides underprivileged children with a summer camp experience in the outdoors. In 1973, Steele built the Park Plaza Hotel, which was the first of its kind to be located at a ski resort. At the age of 70, he continued expanding his business by purchasing the Snowflake Lodge.

Like Wiedenbaum, Steele has a vision for the future of skiing and is also committed to leaving the environment in better shape than when he found it. This year Jack Steele Ski Resort, which he founded, will celebrate its 50th anniversary as one of the top ski resorts in North America. In an interview with The Aspen Times, Steele said, “When you look at the history of the U.S. in skiing and how important that is in shaping who we are today as a country, it makes you want to preserve what you have.”

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