July 7, 2007
Having purchased its first resort in the East, Park City-based POWDR Corp. is facing resistance from some Vermonters who are calling on skiers to boycott the new owner of Killington resort.
"We intend to nip this in the bud and show them very clearly that their new vision for our resort and their overall business ethics are not appreciated here in the Northeast," an e-mail from a group at firstname.lastname@example.org states.
The group encourages skiers to boycott early season pass sales at Killington.
"Delay your pass purchase until within 48 hours (of) the final deadline for a discounted pass, which will most likely be in early October," the e-mail states. "Pre-season pass sales represent 15 percent of Killington’s yearly revenue, or roughly $10 milllion, which is received prior to the start of resort operations."
However, that will force local skiers to pay more in the fall, countered Mark Fischer a spokesman for POWDR Corp.
"Why would you encourage your friends to pay higher prices for passes later?" Fischer asked in a telephone interview Thursday. "It would be a shame."
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Meanwhile, in taking over Killington, POWDR cancelled the so-called "lifetime pass" at the resort and other local discount programs, critics of POWDR Corp. claim.
Last spring, POWDR and a real-estate group called SP Land Company LLP purchased Killington and nearby Pico Mountain resort for $85 million from Park City-based American Skiing Company, which is in the process of dissolving, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The new owners have since cancelled about 1,200 lifetime passes issued by Killington in 1960 and 1961, the resort’s critics say.
But Fischer insists POWDR Corp. will honor roughly 35 lifetime passes at the resort, adding, "those are the only lifetime passes that exist."
Calling other season passes purchased at Killington in the 1960s "lifetime passes" isn’t accurate, he said.
"First of all, [the] numbers are not accurate," Fischer said about the e-mails. "The term lifetime pass is an unfortunate misnomer."
Those passes were only to be honored by the Sherburne company, which formerly owned Killington, Fischer added.
"Due to the structure of the Killington sale, SP Land and POWDR claim that they no longer have to honor these passes," the letter encouraging the boycott states. "If Killington can’t handle the impact of 1,200 lifetime passes on their season pass sales, that speaks volumes about how much they actually value [pass holder] money."
Critics also blast the new owners of Killington, which is situated near Rutland, Vt., for reportedly reducing the ski season to around 150 days between mid-November and April 13.
"While this is a significant decrease from the 165 days in (the 2006-2007) season, it is an utterly massive decrease from the 202-day season in (2002-2003)," say supporters of the boycott.
This isn’t because of global warming or rising energy costs, but "simply poor management and ignoring their loyal customers, the pass holders," critics stress.
"If you can tell me when it’s going to be cold enough to make snow, I can tell you more accurately when the ski season is going to start," Fischer countered. "Anybody who is trying to establish the specific number of skier days in a season probably has a higher connection to the weather gods than I do."
The investment from American Skiing Company into Killington was "pitifully small," the boycotters say, which makes the roughly $3 million POWDR has pledged to invest in the mountain "a sick joke, and an insult to anyone who has toughed out the last few lean years under ASC."
But Fischer says skiers will notice improvements next season.