Heavenly Ski Resort sale announced | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Heavenly Ski Resort sale announced

Sally J. Taylor

Stretching its reach across the continent, Maine-based ASC Holdings, Inc. announced Friday it would purchase Heavenly Ski Resort and Steamboat Ski Resort in Colorado from Kamori International Corporation.

ASC Holdings, Inc., the parent company of the American Skiing Company, will purchase the two resorts as a package deal for a total of $288.3 million.

Further details of the transaction, which is expected to close in October, have not been disclosed.

“Heavenly is a marvelous asset in a great community,” said American Skiing Chairman Les Otten during a telephone interview on Friday. Heavenly “has some of the best views, with a great international market and a town that appreciates skiing.”

According to a written statement from American Skiing Company, Kimihito Kamori, owner and chairman of Kamori International Corporation, decided to sell the resorts because of “American Skiing’s enthusiasm for the resorts and American Skiing’s capability as an operator and developer of resorts.”

The Kamori corporation purchased Heavenly in 1990 from Bill Killebrew and his group of partners. It continues to hold the Rusutsu Resort Hotel and Convention Center in Japan, the Art Hotels Group in Japan, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Australia and has holdings at the Tignes ski resort in France.

In the short term, the change of ownership is not expected to impact Heavenly’s newly approved Master Plan. The extensive expansion and renovation plan includes environmental improvements, additional ski runs, expansion and upgrade of facilities plus a gondola connecting the resort to the Park Avenue Redevelopment Project near Stateline.

“Everything we’ve heard so far has been very positive,” said Heavenly President Dennis Harmon who has known Otten through various ski circles for about 10 years. “We may be looking at ways to accelerate some things.

“Our direction is that it is business as usual. We’ll focus on finishing the projects begun this summer.”

Projects expected to be completed this summer include a new six-pack detachable lift, three new trails and an upgrade of the Waterfall lift and snowmaking capabilities, Harmon said.

Otten also indicated satisfaction, in general, with Heavenly’s plans.

“We don’t anticipate any significant change in any of Heavenly’s policies at this time,” Otten said.

The new owner does expect to improve customer service, the quality of the products and their value to the communities around the two resorts, Otten said.

The company is a rising star in the current ski merger trend.

American Skiing now owns and operates 11 ski resorts with at least one resort located in each major United States skiing market. Combined, the resorts generated approximately 4.9 million skier and snowboarder visits in the 1996-97 ski season, more than 9 percent of the U.S. skier market for that year.

Besides Heavenly and Steamboat, American Skiing Company now owns Mount Snow/Haystack, Killington/Pico and Sugarbush Ski Resorts in Vermont; Attitash Bear Peak Ski Resort in New Hampshire; the Sunday River and Sugarloaf/USA Ski Resorts in Maine and The Canyons Ski Resort in Utah.

Tribune reporter Rob Bhatt contributed to this article.

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