Aspen Skiing Co., Liftopia have business fallout over Mountain Collective

A closed sign for the Silver Queen Gondola at the base of Aspen Mountain March 15, 2020.
Maddie Vincent/The Aspen Times

Aspen Skiing Co. has cut business ties with an online broker of lift tickets over an alleged outstanding debt of $2.4 million in sales from the Mountain Collective pass.

Skico and a group of ski area operators also are attempting to force Liftopia, a San Francisco-based seller of discount ski passes, into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to court filings.

Alterra Mountain Co., which sells the Ikon Pass and operates Winter Park resort, as well as Cypress Bowl Recreations (British Columbia) and Dundee Resort Development (Arapahoe Basin) joined Skico in filing an involuntary Chapter 11 petition against Litftopia on June 2 in California bankruptcy court. In the filing, the companies say Liftopia owes them a combined $3 million, with Skico holding the largest tab.

All of the debts stem from Liftopia’s “failure to pay contractual fees,” according to the petition, which names Joshua Morse as counsel for the petitioners. Morse, of the San Francisco law branch of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, could not be reached. Liftopia also did not respond to inquiries seeking comment.

Skico is participating in the bankruptcy process as the managing member of Mountain Collective, a pass that has been sold through Liftopia since 2012. For the pending 2020-21 season, the Mountain Collective will entitle holders access to 23 resorts. The pass provides access to two days on the slopes of each destination; Aspen-Snowmass counts as one destination.

Liftopia and Skico have worked together since 2012, but “Mountain Collective has terminated its contractual relationship with Liftopia,” said Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle in an email to The Aspen Times.

“We have had a long and generally positive relationship with Liftopia in connection with our management of the Mountain Collective,” Hanle said. “This relationship started in 2012 and has been extended several times.”

Liftopia’s debt to Skico relates to the sale of “Mountain Collective Pass sales and reflect amounts owed to all Mountain Collective member resorts together, which ASC manages as managing member,” Hanle said.

Liftopia has yet to file enter a response to the petition. A status conference on the matter is scheduled Aug. 6, according to court records.

“We have been seeking resolution of this situation for many months and, unfortunately, it has not appeared that Liftopia has appreciated the severity of the concerns of its creditors,” Hanle said. “Without assurances that its debts were generally being paid currently, could be paid in the future, and in the absence of any concrete plan for ensuring that the business could ultimately satisfy its debts and function as an ongoing concern outside of Chapter 11, we felt we had no choice but to take the steps we did to protect the interests of all of Liftopia’s creditors, most directly, those of the Mountain Collective member resorts.”

On Thursday and recent days also, Liftopia’s website said, “Due to COVID-19, Liftopia has temporarily furloughed a number of employees. As a result, our responses may be delayed. Thank you for your patience.”

Liftopia has the option to object going bankrupt under Chapter 11, a process that allows companies to remain in business while working on a way to satisfy their creditors. It also has 21 days from the June 2 filing date by Skico and others to respond before any bankruptcy proceeding can move forward.

“Involuntary bankruptcies are primarily filed against businesses, where creditors believe the business can pay its outstanding debts but refuses to do so for some reason,” according to Investopedia.


See more