Grouse Mountain sale marks first Canadian firm's ski resort purchase in decade

Previous owner was Chinese investment firm, and other recent ski hill investments have seen big resorts purchased by Americans

Western Investor
February 13, 2020

Grouse Mountain
Grouse Mountain ski resort in North Vancouver has been bought by Northland Properties of Vancouver. | submitted

In early January, Northland Properties announced its purchase of the Grouse Mountain ski resort from a Chinese investment firm, marking the first time in a decade that a major B.C. ski resort has been bought by a Canadian company.

The resort was previously sold to the China Minsheng Investment Group for a reported $200 million in July 2017, under the banner of GM Resorts Limited Partnership, established by CM (Canada) Asset Management Co. Ltd. 

Northland, which is owned by the Vancouver-based Gaglardi family, declined to disclose the purchase price of the resort, which covers 1,200 acres above North Vancouver. 

Northland CEO Tom Gaglardi, who is also the owner and governor of the Dallas Stars of the NHL, stated in a press release the company would “maintain and evolve the iconic Grouse Mountain experience.”

The sale of Grouse Mountain to a B.C. firm marks a change in recent ski mountain investments, which have seen big resorts on Vancouver Island, in Whistler and in the Okanagan purchased by Americans.

On December 3, 2019, Powdr, an adventure lifestyle company based in Park City, Utah, announced the purchase of the SilverStar Mountain Resort near Vernon. Powdr acquired Silver Star Ski Resort Ltd. and Silver Star Holidays Ltd., which operate SilverStar. 

Vernon-based Jane Cann, who had owned SilverStar since 2002, retained about 30 acres of prime real estate development land at the resort.

The blockbuster deal of the last decade was the $1.4 billion sale of Whistler Blackcomb ski resort to Colorado-based Vail Resorts Inc. in August 2016.

Located about 120 kilometres north of Vancouver, Whistler Blackcomb is both the largest and the most popular ski destination in North America, with more than two million people visiting annually. The resort helped host the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. 

Vail operates nine mountain resorts and two ski areas in the U.S. and Australia. Whistler Blackcomb is its first foray into Canada.

Five years ago another American company, Utah-based Pacific Group Resorts Inc., bought Mount Washington Alpine Resort on Vancouver Island. Included in that sale were all ski and recreational operations and most of the development land near and around its base. The sale price was not disclosed. 

With Mount Washington, Pacific Group Resorts operates four ski and snowboard resorts and four golf courses. Pacific Group has built real estate projects in Whistler and Squaw Valley in California.

Three smaller B.C. ski resorts have sold in the past decade, all to local investors. 

Shames Mountain ski resort near Terrace sold in 2012 to a local co-operative; Mount Baldy ski resort in the South Okanagan was bought out of receivership in 2016 for $3.4 million by a B.C. numbered company controlled primarily by Vancouver lawyer Victor Tsao; and Ski Smithers in northeast B.C. was bought by a group of B.C. investors.

- With files from Squamish Chief

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