For at least the fifth time in its history, Bolton Valley ski resort is looking for new owners. Current owners Doug Nedde and Larry Williams have signed up a New England investment banking firm to help it find a new owner, or possibly new investment partner to handle the day-to-day operations.
Mike Krongel of Mirus Resort Capital said the resort will open as scheduled this coming weekend — good news for local skiers and riders. Krongel hopes to have a sale completed by the end of the ski season next spring.
Nedde and Williams own Redstone, a Vermont commercial real estate development company in Burlington. The partners have owned and operated Bolton Valley Resort since 2007, when they purchased the interests of Bolton’s former owner/operator. Mirus’ assignment is to identify purchasers or equity investors to implement Bolton’s plans for growth.
“Future development plans at Bolton Valley include improvements to the existing base area, lift upgrades and expansion of snowmaking capacity,” said Williams. “There are plans to create a sustainable primary and second home community, a canopy tour, zip rider, mountain biking, and the installation of a second wind powered turbine capable of producing more than five million kWh of energy per year. We are looking to Mirus Resort Capital to advise us on how to best move Bolton Valley forward.”
Krongel said Bolton Valley, unlike larger resorts like Sugarbush, Stowe and Jay Peak, is not a yearround destination resort. Instead, it holds a particular niche as a ski mountain.
"Bolton is a regional player, and by that I mean it's for local skiers, and for the industry as a whole that's where new skiers and riders come from," said Krongel. "It's more likely that folks who live and work in Vermont would learn to ski at Bolton, and for the resort, its definitive market is the Burlington metro area and even Montpelier and Waterbury."
Under the leadership of Nedde and Williams, Bolton has attempted to better define itself and reach out to this local market, said Krongel. The pair has also turned the mountain profitable.
Bolton has been a challenging resort to make profitable, as evident by the turnover in ownership — it's had at least five owners since the original family sold the resort in 1997. The resort was founded in 1966 by Ralph Delauriers and his father. For years, town officials and resort owners lobbied the state for an interstate exit near the base of the mountain road leading to the resort. Former Gov. Howard Dean repeatedly rejected such an idea as he opposed the type of growth and development that occurred near interstate exits.
"It's been challenging for several iterations of ownership starting back with the Deslauriers," noted Krongel. "Yet for as problematic as its been it's struck a chord in the local area. In fact, one of the owners in particular came back from Florida because he had run the original ski shop up there."
It's that loyalty of ownership, and skiers, that gives Krongel confidence that he'll find either a new, hands-on investor for the resort or a new owner.
"I would expect that it's either going to be a local passionate person who has his, or her, own capital and has other parties willing to invest and really wants to do this, or its another operator who can add skier visits to his portfolio," Krongel said.