Apex Mountain sold

Discussion in 'Canada' started by bigwhite-rameok, May 3, 2017.

  1. bigwhite-rameok

    bigwhite-rameok Active Member

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  2. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    Well there ya go. Rumours have been swirling around for what seems years, I have been ignoring them almost as long. Best wishes to the new owners, and gratitude to the Martin and Garnett families for their twenty years of leadership. Hopefully the new group will be just as supportive of training and competition for freestyle and alpine.
     
  3. Principal Douglas

    Principal Douglas Addicted Member
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    Seems like it's been sold to good people. All senior staff being retained
     
  4. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire
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    Well there you go...yes lets hope they keep that wonderful Apex vibe. :) I'll tell you next Jan if it's still any good
     
  5. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    Sure hope they keep the ops manager and GM. We have very good working relationship there and they get what we bring to the table.
     
  6. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire
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    Sound like they are keeping everyone. :)
     
  7. dawooduck

    dawooduck Pool Room
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    How much for a Condo in the mall ?
     
  8. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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  9. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire
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    Have stayed in that building many times, great location and rooms are good although dated now. Couldn't go wrong with that if you had some spare cash. That said I don't know how you would go with the management and them doing rentals for you...... hard time just booking the place, so now we always rent through friends and friends of friends who own condos in the village.
     
  10. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    OK Apex fans, what would you want to see changed/added/removed/improved by new owners? The key thing that must happen first is resort master planning; the province won't release any more land for them to sell until this is in place and a master development agreement signed. This was one of the key reasons for the previous ownership group's desire to sell for the past few years - they had neither the stomach nor the pockets for this next level of commitment.

    In my mind, the only capital development that would make any sense for attracting new business and the land sales that (hopefully) follow is new terrain. Locals would love to see a lift up in the Chute area that would provide fast access to north side runs without the long ski out down Grandfather trail, but that gives little to the marketing folks to pitch. New lifts in new terrain is what gets the juices flowing and people across BC thinking about a road trip to an old favourite that's just expanded its offerings. Whitewater and Red both recently did this and saw decent upticks in visitation. Apex is a lot closer to Vancouver and already has a fair number of coastal folk who own weekender property and season passes there; new terrain could well entice more to buy at Apex.

    But what kind of new terrain? Apex is already notorious as a steep mountain. I guess the real question is, what is the vision for the Apex brand? Right now it's an unusual, outside the box resort subsisting on local season pass client base and events. It doesn't have vast swathes of novice/intermediate terrain like BW, SS, SP. Apex can't really play in that sandbox, and they'd be a couple of decades behind in infrastructure and accoms if they tried to. No point in forcing yourself into a mould you don't really fit, especially when the marketplace is already crowded with well-established, resource-rich competitors.

    So I guess Apex will be a 'boutique resort', whatever that means. Ownership at this point have done virtually zero conscious brand marketing, outside the local area people either haven't heard of it at all or they just know it's a small but steep mountain in the interior somewhere. With some budget and planning, it wouldn't be that hard to sculpt a new image for the brand, but what will it be? Small is beautiful? Steep and tough, and proud of it? You shoulda been here yesterday?
     
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  11. Principal Douglas

    Principal Douglas Addicted Member
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    Unless they can somehow expand terrain it will continue to hold little appeal to international tourists, IMO. Perhaps they could get in league with one of the big Aussie wholesalers, put together some kind of 3 nights in Apex, 3 in Big White plus everything kind of package, push that hard for a couple of years to try and get the Aussies in. Maybe an Apex and Red package, although that's a further, harder transfer. Once you've skied Apex on a good day I think you'd be in love with the place, and want to go back.

    Branding wise, I would go for a "soul of skiing" approach. They're not a big multinational company, they're not a giant ski area. Push something like "what skiing should be". Smiles and deep pow and local hospitality. I'm no marketer, but that kind of thing would appeal to me. With every major resort getting swallowed up by giant conglomerates I would prefer to give my money to something (somewhat) locally owned.
     
  12. dawooduck

    dawooduck Pool Room
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    Red Mountain uses that exact marketing
     
  13. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire
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    Like this line of thinking.

    I don't think it's fair to say that it has little appeal to international tourists...it's just that many agents here don't have deals or even know about Apex. Possibly due to it being a little disfunctional in nature and it is hard to organise anything out of season, this is when most Aussies do it, so a contactable operational person all year round would be great. Personally I love the way it is now although would love to see some money pumped into it.

    The rental pool for condo's is small as many owners use theirs heavily during the season. So a bump in that would be good. Another place to eat on the hill at night would be great. I loved Saddle Back, but that burnt down. Update the tripe chair and that should keep the intermediates happy over there all day. Maybe a yurt or shack serving hot drinks and snack would also appeal to the intermediates and keep them busy in that area. I am sure they could do something off grandfathers to open up more areas for beginners.

    Me I like it that way it is right now.....but know that going forward that's not a winning business model.
     
  14. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    This is a very good point!
     
  15. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    New owners will no doubt want land to sell. The previous owners bought in 1997, spent some money in the village - new pub/restaurant/store and then developed and sold real estate for a decade or so. Sales were good for a while, until the easily developed stuff ran out. There's a handful of blocks left, but they're for larger single family homes and therefore more expensive and only appealing to a small pool of potential buyers. Access to a much larger selection of land was only possible if they went through the expensive master resort planning process to negotiated a larger, longer lease with the crown provincial. The new group will almost certainly tackle this as the current model provides very modest operating surpluses and nothing much for capital expansion. There is the potential for a multi-peak setup similar to Sun Peaks, with a completely new village area about 2 km south of the current one. That would also yield a slight increase in skiable vertical, maybe an extra 100-150 m. They'd need deep pockets to fund that as there's not a scrap of infrastructure over that way. But it's been done before, the transformation from Tod Mountain to Sun Peaks was very much like that, a new village and lifts in a previously undeveloped area. And those owners are still in place too.

    The other possibility is the old original lodge area partway up the mountain. It has water and power and road access in place but is little used these days, just overflow parking and snowmobile trails. A quality hotel there would be a good addition and wouldn't need much upfront cash to get the project into the ground.
     
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  16. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire
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    We first skied there in 1998 I believe and the finishing touches were being placed on the pub and another few buildings...since then nothing new has happened. For a few years there was a cappuccino hut at the top of the quad that was great although on many days you couldn't stand around to finish your coffee as you'd get blown off the top :) +1 coped a nose full of froth on a few occasions. Would be lovely to see something up there...like Kickinghorse has :D It's a wonderful view.
     
  17. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    I worked part time at Billy Goat Hut a couple of seasons to help fund my instructing habit. Great spot, but eventually the health authority forced them to close it because there's no running water for hand washing. Cost of getting potable water up there and treatment of waste water would be formidable to say the least. But it could be done if new owners decided to build a proper resto up there. There's already a fairly good road for construction vehicles.
     
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  18. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire
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    It would really add to the place.
     
  19. Beerman

    Beerman Dedicated Member
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    Resto, you've been in Canadia too long. I know the locals use the term, but can't say i've seen it to much anywhere else.
     
  20. Zeroz

    Zeroz Dedicated Member
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    What exactly did the new group buy?

    Obviously it's the land for the actual resort, lifts, including ski boundaries, etc, But what else?

    Do they have the village, rink, XC loop, parking lots, land next to the tube park? Or even more area than that?
     
  21. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    The key business components are lifts, snow school and equipment rentals. They also own the building/unit which houses the Gunbarrel pub, cafeteria and ski shop, but these are leased off to independent business owners. Then there's the admin building, parking lot, hockey rink, maintenance shop, the old upper lodge and a few small cabins used for staff housing. In short, they don't have any lodging or food/beverage operations. There's still some unsold serviced vacant blocks, maybe 10 or thereabouts. Probably a few other bits and pieces of remnant land that aren't readily saleable for one reason or another. Word was the whole lot was going for about $5 million, but who knows how accurate that number is/was, the Apex rumour mill is at least as vibrant as that at any other mountain.

    As I said, there's loads more land available, but a lot of work and time are needed to step across the province's requirements. The new owners have bought the equivalent of a project boat: a theoretically bluewater-capable vessel that will need major hull repairs and completely new power train before it can be taken offshore.
     
  22. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    Odd, I've heard more Aussies use that term.
     
  23. Principal Douglas

    Principal Douglas Addicted Member
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    Aussies who have been in Canada a while? ;)
     
  24. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    Can't offhand think of any of my friends who would use the term 'resto'.
     
  25. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire
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    I have never heard it before
     
  26. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    So I ran into the Apex GM a couple of days ago. The new owners are three or four Chinese people looking for a BC investment, along with one Canadian with ski industry background to front it up. The rest of them have no understanding whatever about ski resorts, he had to explain to them what mogul skiing was and then they looked it up on Google to be sure. So they will make little to no changes for a couple of years as they learn about the snow industry and work their way through the master planning process. Management will stay in place, as they should - how anyone can make even a small profit there is beyond me. They'll spend a little money fixing up the obvious items that need a little TLC, but beyond that it will be a while before the big changes come. So this could work, after all the previous owners were from the logging industry and not really skiers either.
     
  27. Principal Douglas

    Principal Douglas Addicted Member
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    I'll never really understand business people who invest in something they have no clue about. I'm not a millionaire businessman though, so.....
     
  28. Beerman

    Beerman Dedicated Member
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    Sounds like the Chinese buying themselves a Canadian passport to me, buying a business just to move the family out of China and live in another country of their choice
     
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  29. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    ^ or a place to park some cash offshore where it can't be grabbed by govt
     
  30. blowfin

    blowfin Well-Known Member

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    Yeah approximately $5 million is a lot solely for that purpose. AFAIK you only need to invest a million if you're looking at gaining residency via the investment channel.

    Edit: turns out it's a net worth of $1.6M CAD, might be about right for a group of 3-4 investors ;)
     
    #30 blowfin, May 24, 2017
    Last edited: May 24, 2017
  31. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    What they paid doesn't matter nearly as much as what they need to spend on master plan and the capital investments that will flow from that planning.
     
  32. dawooduck

    dawooduck Pool Room
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    First big change will be .... Yum Cha Hutte
     
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  33. KneeDeep

    KneeDeep Dedicated Member

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    Laughing my ass off, good one Duck.LOL
     
  34. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver Dedicated Member

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    Sly is this your summation of not much change or from the new owners lips?

    Perhaps owning a ski resort is enough face for them or perhaps they'll want to flex their muscles and add some bling.
     
  35. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    It sounds like they're mainland chinese looking for a Canadian investment so they can get residency as business investors. Hard to know why they've chosen the ski industry when they know nothing about it, but whatever. I've been told the only notable change coming soon is the resort will move to acquire management rights to as much of Apex's rental accommodation stock as possible. Up to now they've had zero accommodations revenue, that has been the status quo for as long as I've been around the mountain. This bodes well for the continued co-operation with the alpine and freestyle clubs, as the events we both bring in typically book out all available rental beds. I've had assurances from the GM and the ops mgr that the arrangements we already have in place will continue, business as usual. Fortunately, the ski club had already secured longterm tenure on the land on which the club cabin is built.

    It's hard to know what will happen longterm. They'll do the master plan in order to secure a master management lease and unlock land to sell, but what will the master plan look like? The planners will need to be given some direction, so what is the vision owners have for the resort? The only partner with industry experience comes from a sales and marketing background, not operations. Will he push for a makeover of the current village, or maybe a completely new village? Or will the development be focused on the mountain with a wonderful array of proposed new lifts and runs? And yes, there's the $64 question: will any of it be actually built in the near term? Virtually every mainstream resort in BC has an elaborate public plan for new lifts and runs all approved by the government, but few of them are anywhere near close to completion of said plan, nor is there any schedule given for the progression to buildout. "As economic conditions permit" is the mantra.
     
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  36. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire
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    I honestly hope there are no drastic changes :(
     
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  37. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    Better get back here before it's too late! Two years before anything much happens.
     
  38. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire
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    There in Mid Jan for 2 weeks, staying at Nancy's place again :D
     
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  39. makemepee

    makemepee Just Registered

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    Had a little gander at this forum. Don't know who said locals would love to see a new lift on the north side. If anything locals want to keep people out of there! In fact, I think the only thing locals would like is for the bloody lifts to open on time on powder days, which hasn't been happening for years but happens at every other resort. They don't want Apex to become Revelstoke, Silver Star or any other big branded mountain. They just want the owners to make enough of a profit to be content with keeping the hill open. A village makeover would certainly be a good idea, and as for new lifts, start with replacing the triple chair! And, I'd suggest going with new management, but I imagine they will once they've watched a season or two go by. And be more honest about the snow. People know and love Apex for what it is. They don't need dishonest forecasts and snowfall reports to get them there. Small, family friendly, training site.
     
  40. Marty_McSly

    Marty_McSly Addicted Member
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    Maybe the Sydney based Ski Adventures might be interested. They already do a Ski Safari in BC.
    http://www.skiadventures.com/ski-safari--bc
     
  41. blowfin

    blowfin Well-Known Member

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    I don't think it earned the nickname of Scrapex by being a powder mecca, that's for sure. Hence the attraction as a training site I guess. Plenty of fun to be had on a decent powder day though. Just have to get lucky and get some of that 600cm/year while you're there, or have the luxury of choosing your days. It could do with some more lifted terrain that isn't quite so exposed I feel. The location, isolation, and size is always going to keep crowds fairly modest.
     
  42. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire
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    Apex used to be in a heap of the ski specialist travel agents years and years back...Aussies were just not interested in general, which suits me just fine.
     
  43. blowfin

    blowfin Well-Known Member

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    There was a definite local push to get more visitors out there when I was living in Vancouver between 2009-11. They had a presence at the snow "expo" shows or whatever they are called. The place was being sold as something like:
    - Dat Champagne interior powder
    - Steep fall line terrain
    - No lift lines
    - Cheap lift tickets
    - Small town vibe

    Not a bad option at all for a few days for starting a road trip out further into BC. I just wouldn't plan a trip there from overseas before the end of January, probably mid Feb to be safe. I apply that rule to a lot of the stuff inland in BC though.
     
  44. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire
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    Funny you should say that, we have done a few trips mid Jan and early Jan for a couple of weeks at Apex, love the place and never had an issue, depends on what your expectations are I guess.
     
  45. blowfin

    blowfin Well-Known Member

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    I was there at xmas and a lot of the mountain wasn't opened yet. Needed another month probably.
     
  46. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire
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    I was there Jan 3 for 2 weeks, had an epic time. Many runs over the back were a bit sketchy but all runs on the trail map were open :)
     
  47. blowfin

    blowfin Well-Known Member

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    Xmas 2010 I meant :p Sorry should have been clearer. Having everything open at that stage is a pretty solid start to the season I think. Locals can probably confirm.
     
  48. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire
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    Yes was an epic season this year :)
     
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  49. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    I think existing management should get a tip of the hat for eking out even a modest profit from an odd little hard-to-market place like Apex. Outgoing owners lost interest a decade ago once the easy to sell land was gone, clipping off the purse strings at the same time. They could have done the master plan and gone on to sell more land, but wanted to take their profit and get out.

    The mountain certainly has its quirks but we love it and most of us don't want to see it change. A bit more budget for patrol would give them a chance to get open on time on powder mornings though!
     
  50. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire
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    Seasons pass purchased today, same cost as last year :)
     
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