Jay Peak Finally Sold
Jay Peak is an integral part of the conSKIerge family history. Many years ago we finally manned up and drove the extra hour to reach Jay from Boston. Until that moment, Sugarbush and Mad River Glen in the Mad River Valley in Vermont were our prime destinations. While our family continued to honor those two areas, Jay Peak was often the winner in the family sweep stakes (and we parents even let the kiddos vote).
Yes, Jay could be unforgiving. Many weekends we were met with howling winds. It could be brutally cold even without the wind, and it wasn’t unheard of for the whole mountain to be closed for the day. Jay’s detachable quad is officially called The Flyer; we called it The Freezer. But for the brave it is a gem. It receives a legit 350 plus inches a year which is way more than any other eastern area and more than most Colorado areas. It has a unique comfortable non-corporate feel, and half the conversations are in French given its proximity to the Canadian border. And perhaps most importantly, it has numerous skiable glades for all levels of skiers, so it was rare for us to ski the groomed trails.
Unfortunately for years now Jay has been the hostage of a cruel financial scam centered on the abuse of a federal visa program in which foreign investors could essentially buy US citizenship. We won’t get into the dirty details but check out the VT Digger article if you can’t resist. Suffice it to say that it left Jay in the hands of a bankruptcy receiver type arrangement for the last six plus years. While the area has remained open it has largely remained frozen in time – even in the summers.
Since we are unabashed fans of Jay our expectation (fear?) was that one of the conglomerates would gobble up Jay Peak and melt it into it’s corporate hell. Indeed there were reports that the Vail and Aspen led behemoths were sniffing around as early as 2019. We are not sure why this didn’t happen. And maybe it didn’t happen for all the reasons we love the place – it is authentic old fashioned New England skiing not for the faint of heart with a quirky personality. The Big Boys were probably too scared to take it on. And that is fine with us.
But change and a sale were needed, and the receiver held the inevitable auction this summer. Reportedly there were three bidders, and, amazingly, the two losing bidders have not been identified. The winner – Pacific Group Resorts, Inc. (PGRI) at the price of $76 Million. Yeah, we didn’t know who they are either. While Jay appears to be one of the largest ski resorts they own, the good news is this is not their first rodeo. They also own five other ski areas – Wintergreen/Virginia; Wisp/Maryland; Ragged/New Hampshire; Mt. Washington Alpine Resort/BC; and Powderhorn Mountain Resort/ CO. We agree these are not marque ski resorts, but at least they are in the resort biz.
The deal has just been finalized so we are in the wait and see mode. In some way it seems like an odd marriage. PGRI touts itself as a developer/owner of mid size year round resorts mostly within striking distance of large metropolitan centers. While Jay Peak is delightfully hard to define, it doesn’t come close to fitting that profile. Of course, PGRI is saying everything we want to hear – that they recognize the uniqueness of Jay and they don’t plan material changes to what attracts the serious eastern skier to the resort. Call us naive, but we are hopeful. Thankfully, one of the 800 lb gorillas didn’t gobble Jay up. Six years on hold with a two year pandemic sandwiched in the middle which stopped half of the normal Jay skiers (Canadiens) from being able to go there has stymied needed growth. Even Jay needs a facelift. Perhaps, just perhaps PGRI is the right partner. Stay tuned.
Be Well; Ski Well