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Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows Merge

Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows Merge

Making good on decade-long rumors, two of California's biggest resorts combine. Tahoe skiers will be able to access both on one pass.
By Heather Hansman
posted: 09/27/2011

Every time I ski Squaw, I bump into the same people on the KT Express chair. I never have to wait long to find diehard ski buddies who begin, spend and end each winter day lapping this one lift and its expert terrain. But a good day at Squaw for CEO emeritus Nancy Wendt Cushing—who just passed the reins of this brawny and historic mountain to someone outside the Cushing clan—involves covering a lot more ground on skis. It’s an easy thing to do: While this California classic may be best known for its signature steeps, Squaw’s six summits offer abundant options for literally all levels of skiers.

“Follow the sun,” Cushing advises with a knowing smile. She likes to start by zooming up the Funitel (a key component in a lift network capable of moving more bodies uphill per hour than any other ski area in the U.S.), then warming up on the easy, open meadow at the summit. From there she heads to the broad, rolling boulevards of forested Shirley Lake—a sunny day favorite with intermediates and families.

Back at the top, breeze down the sinuous folds of Silverado, a favorite hidden stash for Squaw skiers in the know. Each run gets more challenging. Next, angle down Headwall’s steeps then swing through the bumps of Sun Bowl. Nancy does it all wearing a ball cap, sunglasses and a happy look. With Squaw’s new efforts to improve the on- and off-hill customer experience, you and your family will have the same happy grin—even if you don’t meet your buddies at the KT chair. —S.R.

What’s New: Finally: Olympic House gets a renovation; new family features include a kids’ fun zone and trail map, and upgrades at the Children’s Center; new lighting will keep the terrain park open at night.

Mandatory Run: Easy way down: The Saddle.

Don’t Miss: High Camp, and its grab bag of non-ski diversions with lake views.

After years of conflicting “will they? Won’t they?” rumors, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, two of California’s biggest resorts, announced this morning that they are merging.

It’s always been a dream; it’s age-old,” says Squaw’s Amelia Richmond. “But it's only really been in the works since last winter.”

KSL Capital Partners, which owns Squaw, will operate the two resorts under the name of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings LLC. According to a Squaw Valley press release, “As part of the transaction, an investment affiliate of JMA Ventures (JMA), will convert its ownership of Alpine Meadows into partial ownership of the combined company. KSL Capital Partners, LLC (KSL), the owner of Squaw Valley, will be the majority owner of the combined company.” JMA, which also owns Homewood, will still be affiliated. This comes less than a year after KSL bought Squaw in November of 2010.

Richmond says the deal won’t close until November, and that operationally nothing will change until then, but that everything should be in place before the resorts open and that Squaw and Alpine skiers will definitely have access to both resorts. “The pass is a done deal," she says.

All tickets and passes will work at both Squaw and Alpine. Anyone who has already bought passes to either resort will have access to both mountains. New pass products, including the $439 Tahoe Super Pass, will also be available.

When asked if the merger was a play to compete with Vail Resorts, which now owns two Tahoe area resorts, Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley told the local newspaper it wasn’t and that it was “simply about the implementation of a vision, a vision of something greater, and pursuing a tremendous opportunity on behalf of our guests.”

Skiers will still access the two areas separately although the resort will run shuttle services between them. The terrain between the two areas is held by a third party, and Richmond says they’re not ready to discuss the logistics of interconnecting the resorts and what that would entail, just yet. “At this time we’re trying to make sure things are streamlined,” she says. “Those talks are just a little bit down the road."

Get full details here.

reviews of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows Merge
Now all they have to do is buy out Troy Caldwell - the man in the middle, who owns White Wolf Valley - connect the two and they would have the largest resort in the Americas!
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