July 22, 2002—Snow Summit Ski Corporation, owner of Snow Summit Mountain Resort in the resort town of Big Bear Lake, California, has executed an agreement with Booth Creek Ski Holdings, Inc. to purchase one of its subsidiaries, Big Bear Mountain Resort, also located in Big Bear.
Snow Summit is coincidentally marking its 50th anniversary, and has been the leading ski resort in Southern California for those five decades, averaging about 500,000 skier and snowboarder visits per season for the last 24 seasons. It’s a day/weekend resort in the San Bernardino Mountains at an elevation of 7,000 feet, about a two-hour drive northeast of Los Angeles with all typical mountain resort services. It is noted throughout the ski industry for its quality of operations in snowmaking and grooming, limited ticket sales, and most recently, for its freestyle parks.
Summit has a vertical rise of 1,200 feet and boasts eleven chairlifts, including two mile-ong high-speed detachable quads and a huge snowmaking system featuring near self sufficiency in power from its on-site diesel generating plant and all the water needed for snowmaking from Big Bear Lake.
Big Bear Mountain Resort has existed about as long as neighboring Snow Summit under several names and owners over the years. Most recently, Boot Creek purchased the resort in 1997 in the same transaction in which it acquired Northstar-at-Tahoe and Sierra-at-Tahoe from Fibreboard Corporation. Booth Creek is parent to a number of regional ski resorts throughout the United States.
Big Bear Mountain also has complete services and is about one mile east of Snow Summit. It has a 1,600 foot vertical rise, nine chairlifts, including two high-speed quads, and a complete snowmaking system also supplied by water from Big Bear Lake. It generates between 250,000 and 300,000 visits annually.
“For several years now, Snow Summit Ski Corp. has expressed interest in merging Snow Summit and Bear Mountain,” said Chris Ryman, president and chief operating officer of Booth Creek. “The combination of these two well-performing resorts within close proximity to one another simply makes sense. Together, they will be a dominant force within the Southern California snow sports market.”
“Of course we anticipate some cost savings with this merger in marketing, administration, purchasing, and so forth,” said Dick Kun, president of Snow Summit. “But the real value to our company, our guests, and the community of Big Bear is that we will able to reposition each resort in ways that to date have been impossible. In recent years, both have tried to cater to all market segments, including youthful snowboarders, families with children, and older skiers and snowboarders, but doing so has necessitated compromises in services at both. Now each resort will be able to gear its facilities and services more effectively to certain of these segments (but not exclusively to them). Greater guest satisfaction will build repeat visits. This, with interchangeable tickets between the two resorts should increase the total number of skiers and snowboarders visiting Big Bear.”
The sale of Bear Mountain is expected to close in mid to late September. Completion of the sale is subject to final documentation and various closing conditions. The purchase price and terms of the sale are not being disclosed at this time.
Snow Summit Ski Corporation is also in the process of establishing its credit with Wells Fargo Bank, which is assisting financially in the merger with Big Bear Mountain Resort. Wells is the largest lender to California’s mountain resorts and its staff is experienced in administering its ski industry credits. Kun stated, “We are looking forward to a long relationship with Wells. Their flexibility and knowledge of our specialized needs were large factors in our selection.”
Snow Summit Ski Corporation also owns and operates Sierra Summit Mountain Resort , an area of similar size to Snow Summit northeast of Fresno in the Sierrra Nevada Mountains, which generates about 140,000 visits each season.