Sierra Summit Acquired

 

SKI INDUSTRY VETERAN EXPECTED TO SIGN

AGREEMENT TO PURCHASE SIERRA SUMMIT

Lakeshore, California … A small investment group headed by long time Lake Tahoe ski resort executive Tim Cohee is expected to sign a Purchase Agreement to acquire Sierra Summit Mountain Resort at Huntington Lake, it was announced today. The acquisition is scheduled to close on April 30, at which time Cohee will return the resort to its former name of China Peak.

Cohee, for the past 17 years a senior executive with Kirkwood Mountain Resort near Lake Tahoe, 13 of those years as President, General Manager and Chief Operating Officer, will assume control as owner/operator upon the close of the transaction.

“This has been an ambition of mine for well over a decade,” said Cohee, whose ski resort management career began in 1979 with Snow Summit Ski Corporation, the current owners of Sierra Summit. “I’m anxious to bring my passion and experience of the past three decades to skiers and riders of the Central Valley and Coast.”

Cohee began his ski management career in 1979, working for Dick Kun, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Snow Summit, whose family built the resort in the early 1950s. After several years with Snow Summit, during which time they acquired China Peak and he played an active role in the marketing of Sierra Summit, Cohee became Vice President of Heavenly in Lake Tahoe. Three years later he returned to Southern California to join a talented management team that took over operations of then Goldmine, soon renamed Bear Mountain. Over a three year period the group was able to increase skier visits from under 100,000 to nearly 400,000, one of the fastest growth stories in the ski industry. Cohee was then recruited by Sunday River in Maine, where he spent the early 1990s before being named President, CEO/COO and General Manager of the struggling Kirkwood Resort in 1993. Over the next decade Cohee was able to transform the resort well known for deep snow and great terrain into one of the nation’s top regional destinations. In addition to his reputation for quality resort operations, Cohee is perhaps best known as one of the nation’s top marketers for over three decades.

“The Central Sierra has landed a star,” said Bob Roberts, for the past 34 years Executive Director of the California Ski Industry Association, based in San Francisco. “Tim Cohee is one of the industry’s most respected, experienced and passionate leaders. Skiers and riders are in for a treat – the man knows steak and sizzle.”

“Tim will bring energy and enthusiasm to this project … his experience will reinvigorate the resort,” said Michael Berry, for nearly 20 years President of the National Ski Areas Association.

Since being purchased by Snow Summit Ski Corporation as China Peak in 1981, Sierra Summit has seen millions of dollars in improvements, including chairlift installations and relocations, new and regraded ski runs, additional food and beverage, remodels to most of its buildings, including the day lodge and hotel, a large scale snowmaking system and significant parking expansion and improvements.

“Sierra Summit is fully capable of providing a quality ski and snowboard experience for a capacity day in virtually every sense,” said Cohee, who until recently had remained tied to the resort as a member of the Snow Summit Ski Corporation Board of Directors, visiting the resort each January for their annual winter board meeting. “While it may lack some of the higher end facilities found at the larger Tahoe and destination resorts, the mountain would compete very favorably with almost any mid-sized resort in the nation. I’ve skied all over the world the past 30 years, at most every major resort in the nation, and Sierra Summit has the terrain, trail and lift system and natural beauty skiers and boarders anywhere would find enjoyable. It is a true gem in the middle of the Sierra.”

“I worked with Tim when he came to Kirkwood and quickly understood the passion he had for the business,” said Peter Curtis, now President of the well known Park City Mountain Resort in Utah. “He wears his heart on his sleeve, is proud of what he does and how he does it … he was enjoyable to work with, high energy, endless enthusiasm and has deep loyalty for his customers and his staff. Tim will take this opportunity personally, and his vision will create a great experience for customers of Sierra Summit.”

Cohee says Sierra Summit, and soon to be China Peak customers, shouldn’t read more into his acquisition than just a long time resort executive who finally has his chance to fulfill a dream.

“I always wanted to have my own resort, and do things exactly as I have felt was in the best interest of the customer, so they have a good time every time they visit. I am very lucky the timing worked out, and I can’t think of a place I’d rather be next winter than helping our staff run a quality resort, meeting and skiing with our passionate customers in Fresno, the surrounding communities, and the coastal area around San Luis Obispo.”

Cohee is also introducing a unique membership club, generally reserved for resorts with second home real estate communities call the Peak Club, where a limited number of members - individuals, couples, families or corporations - can enjoy a series of lifetime membership benefits at the resort, including preferred parking, interchangeable season passes, lift line privileges, discounts on all resort services and a series of member special events. Complete details on the Peak Club can be found on the resort’s new website, skichinapeak.com, which is being launched on March 8. Cohee is hosting a series of informative parties in Fresno to announce the Peak Club.

Cohee and his wife Anita will be sharing time in the coming year between their home in the Carson Valley, just east of Lake Tahoe, and Huntington Lake, spending a great deal of time in the local communities. They eventually plan a full time move to the Fresno and Huntington Lake area. They have five boys – Taylor, 27; Chase, 22; Nick, 21; Troy 16; and Tristan, 13. All of the boys grew up at ski resorts and not surprisingly, are national caliber skiers. Three ski competitively, including Chase, who competes in big mountain extreme skiing competitions; Nick, a 1st Team NCAA All-American skier at the University of Utah; and Troy, who attends the Sugar Bowl Ski Academy in Lake Tahoe and is among the top J2 level skiers in the nation. Cohee himself has enjoyed a lifetime of sports, including years as a ski racer, and remains active as one of the nation’s top age group triathletes.

Cohee also has a passion for higher education, as he is the Program Director for the Ski Business and Resort Management Program at Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village, Nevada, the nation’s only four year degree in ski management.

“Tim’s rolodex includes an impressive list of ski resort owners and operators throughout the U.S. and Canada, so he knows where to go when he needs advice on anything from lifts and snowmaking to insurance,” said John Rice, a long time colleague and President of Sierra-at-Tahoe. Rice was a manager at Sierra Summit through the mid 1980s. “His wealth of knowledge and experience will be a big asset to the resort and the local business community.”

“The most important thing I can communicate to our customers is we are first and foremost avid skiers, who have been in the business for over 35 years, and have dedicated our entire family and business life to providing people with the very best mountain experience we can,” said Cohee. “We will have a lot of fun, and I sincerely hope our passion for Sierra Summit, soon to be China Peak, comes across to everyone we meet.”