Will the winning Jay Peak bidder step forward?

Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 10:55 AM EDT
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JAY, Vt. (WCAX) - The bidding war is over at Jay Peak. After years of waiting, and seven hours of intense bidding on Wednesday, a winning bid emerged late in the day from the multi-million dollar closed-door auction.

The bidding began on Wednesday morning at 11 a.m. starting at around $58 million and the interested buyers continued to bid at 15-minute intervals up until close to 5:30 p.m. Now, it’s a waiting game to find out who the winner is, and how much they will pay.

The resort has been under the management of a court-appointed receiver since 2016 when the Kingdom Con EB-5 fraud unraveled. Former owner Ariel Quiros and manager Bill Stenger were accused of misspending more than $200 million of foreign investors’ dollars. They are both in prison after pleading guilty earlier this year.

Now, there’s the promise of a new owner and a new chapter for Jay Peak. “The employees are all looking forward to having some stewardship, a little security about who was sort of owning the asset and capitalize the right way to get us the things that we need going forward,” said Jay Peak Resort President and GM, Steve Wright.

A court filing last month revealed that Pacific Group Resorts Inc. submitted the starting $58 million bid. The Park City, Utah, company owns five other ski resorts around the country, including Ragged Mountain in New Hampshire. It’s unclear how many other bidders are taking part in Wednesday’s auction. But any formal announcement of the winner will be at the discretion of the new buyer.

Wright says the eventual investors know what they are getting into. “I think that the people that are involved at this point understand exactly what the value of this resort is and they realize that there is still some money that needs to be invested going forward. So, they’re not going to spend bad dollars on this place knowing there are still some improvements on the mountainside that need to happen,” he said.

We asked people on the property what they hope comes from a new owner. “I’ve been skiing Jay for years, probably 10 years, and I love it exactly the way that it is and I hope to see a continuation of how well it is managed and I don’t want it to change all that much,” said Candice Bousquet of Boston.

Neighboring Burke Mountain Resort, which was also part of the EB-5 case, remains under the same court-appointed receiver but was not part of Wednesday’s auction. It remains uncertain when it will be sold.

Proceeds from Wednesday’s auction will go toward the defrauded investors.

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