Founding family looks to Bolton Valley's future - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Founding family looks to Bolton Valley's future

Posted: Updated:

Industry experts say there's no one factor leading to all the recent sales of ski areas in Vermont.

David Kaufman teaches ski area management courses at the University of Vermont. He says Vail bought Stowe to enter the eastern market. And he sees Aspen's purchase of Stratton's parent company as a reaction to the threat of Vail's expansion.

As for the recent Bolton Valley deal, Kaufman said, "Bolton Valley, totally different. That has nothing to do with any of the national dynamics going on. Ralph DesLauriers was not happy that he lost Bolton back in the late '90s, he's always wanted it back."

Kaufman says this year has been good for the industry.

The federal receiver running Jay Peak has suggested that every $1 million on the bottom line can increase the sale price by $10 million. Kaufman says that may be a good rule of thumb, but he notes that buyers are aware of year-to-year peaks and valleys in revenue and won't be fooled by just one good year.

Back to that Bolton sale returning ownership to the hands of its founding family. The management team will stay in place and the core principle remains the same, but owners believe seeding the state with young local skiers can finally pay off 50 years later.

As melting snow reveals grass below, Bolton Valley Resort is returning to its old school roots. Ralph DesLauriers helped create the mountain playground with his father in 1966. Now, after a 20-year absence, he's back.

"We just felt we could do more," Ralph DesLauriers said.

The family gave up control of the resort in 1997 to stave off a financial wipeout. New ownership didn't completely smooth the rough revenue ride. But the first family is set to return with a new father, daughter and son team.

"I don't know if you can see it on camera, but I just got a little bit of goosebumps. It feels amazing," Evan DesLauriers said.

Just 8 years old when the family sold the resort, Evan DesLauriers describes closing a deal to get it back as a dream come true. Staying put in a desk chair rather than riding a lift next winter may be the toughest challenge of his dream job.

"It's going to be tough," he said. "But hopefully we can do some nice ski meetings out there and take advantage of it, and we have to do quality assurance and test the product so to speak."

"This is really special because this is a place, not only did my family grow up here, but thousands of Vermont kids learned to ski here," Ralph DesLauriers said.

The DesLauriers hope to revitalize hotel and summer offerings and beef up restaurants to recreate a year-round resort and cater to locals. At the core of the plan: affordability. What began as a guiding principle more than 50 years ago is now the game plan to keep this family dream alive.

"The right social thing to do was teach all the local kids to ski, but it also turned out to be, 50 years later, the best business decision," Ralph DesLauriers said.

Skiing is no longer a sport just for wealthy flatlanders and these new owners hope their old investment will finally pay off as a sustainable business for the next generation of passionate powderhounds.

The new ownership won't talk finances, so we dug through Bolton's grand list. All told, the properties associated with the resort are worth more than $6.2 million for tax purposes, though it's not clear whether the DesLauriers will assume ownership of all the holdings.

Asked about the old plan for a new interstate exit at Bolton, the family says they have more pressing issues on their plate, but if the state is willing to work with them, they would be thrilled to finally get that done. In fact, they've got the land along the interstate to make it happen.

Related Stories:

Bolton Valley gets new ownership team

Aspen to buy Stratton Mountain

The Vail effect

Will Stowe sale mean cheaper ski passes elsewhere?

Vail to buy Stowe Mountain Resort for $50M

Rumors of Stowe Resort sale reach crescendo

Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.