Sunlight sees flurry of interest

Dennis Webb
Glenwood Springs correspondent

The owners of Sunlight Mountain Resort are evaluating a letter of intent to buy the property, even as they continue to show it to other interested parties.

A group from Florida planned to visit the property today, said Sunlight general manager Tom Jankovsky.

“It seems like every few weeks we’ve had people coming through,” he said.

A developer based in Greenwood Village and Atlanta submitted a letter a few weeks ago laying out terms under which he would like to buy the resort.

Jerry Jones, the Avon-based real estate agent who is marketing the property, said Sunlight’s owners are continuing to consider the offer.

Jones said the man has developed properties in Vail, Keystone and Winter Park, but isn’t part of a corporation or large group.

“I don’t think that this party has ever owned a ski resort,” Jones said.

Jankovsky said there has been speculation about Vail Resorts wanting to buy Sunlight since a former Vail vice president took a look at the property back in May. But Jones said the company has expressed no interest in Sunlight.

“We have sent Vail stuff and if they are looking at it they have not contacted us or the owners,” Jones said.

Jankovsky questioned whether Vail Resorts could buy Sunlight, noting that it had to divest itself of Arapahoe Basin for anti-trust reasons.

Vail Resorts spokesperson Kelly Ladyga confirmed that the company was forced to sell A-Basin after buying Breckenridge, Keystone and A-Basin and becoming a publicly owned company in 1997.

However, she said the company doesn’t comment on any rumored or potential acquisitions.

Jones said the Aspen Skiing Co. also isn’t among those looking at a purchase of Sunlight.

“I think it’s fair to say that they’re all developer types,” he said of inquiring parties.

One interested group from Utah was formerly involved in the ski industry.

Sunlight is owned by a group of shareholders, some of them local, including Jankovsky. It went up for sale in October for $50 million, which remains the asking price. Much of that value lies in the potential for developing the resort by adding a base village, following a review process by Garfield County, Jones said.

Jones said more than 300 information packets on Sunlight have been sent out to interested parties.

When Sunlight first went up for sale, he had expected it might go under contract within a few months. But Jones said Monday, “The process, it just does take time. It’s a big deal, and so much of it is dependent on unknowns at this time, that whoever buys it is going to have to go through the process with the county to see what in fact they can do.”

He said it also would make more sense for a sale to occur during the ski season, when the resort would be producing income for the new buyer.

Jones said the letter of intent has accelerated the due diligence other interested parties are doing in looking at the resort.

He said the developer who submitted the letter is someone who would be involved in the community and would be a good neighbor.

“I think that everybody that we have talked to has been quite anxious to make sure that they take care of the community first because they know they’re going to be in partnership with the community for business, for labor, everything,” he said.