Sunday, February 25, 2001
Steamboat Springs Officials of the American Skiing Co. said late last year that they needed 30 to 45 days beyond the arrival of holiday ski crowds in December to accurately gauge the effectiveness of their plan to sell available quartershares in the Steamboat Grand Hotel. Those same officials were saying little this week about the success of their plan.
"We have a budget for that, and we're on budget," American Skiing Chairman Les Otten said through an intermediary. He declined to comment further.
American Skiing spokesman Skip King said this week he expects the company's earnings report for the second quarter of fiscal 2001 to come out during the first week in March. The company has postponed the release of that statement twice, he said.
In an interview with Steamboat Today, Otten said on Dec. 5 that about 70 percent of the quartershares in the hotel, which opened in October, remained to be sold. He said a return to normal winter weather patterns and the ability of his team to sell existing real estate inventory both in Steamboat and at The Canyons near Park City, Utah, are the keys to reversing the fortunes of his company.
American Skiing reported losses of $52.4 million in 2000 and has $458 million in debt, some of it highly leveraged.
Otten said the six months to come would be critical to the future of his company but stressed that his company was not in critical condition at the time.
A week after the interview, American Skiing announced it had acquired the nation's largest independent hotel management company in a $185 million stock swap both companies are calling a merger.
That merger with MeriStar Hotels and Resorts is still pending. Together, ASC and MeriStar would form an entirely new company, Doral International.
Otten will continue to serve as chairman of the new company. Current president and CEO of MeriStar, Paul W. Whetsell, will be the CEO of Doral International.
Otten told Steamboat Today that the Steamboat Grand closed $8 million in sales soon after it opened Oct. 2, with another $26 million under contract.
"We had $40 million ready to close, all we had to do is deliver the building."
His goals for 2001 are to de-leverage another $40 million in debt through the sales of townhomes and quartershares in another grand hotel in Utah, and in Steamboat.
Otten moved veteran quartershare salesman Scott Oldakowski here from The Canyons in December to pump up sales at the Steamboat Grand.
Oldakowski said he would focus on three key markets: in-house hotel guests vacationing at Steamboat, a group of thousands of people who visited the Steamboat Grand sales office sometime in the past two years but didn't buy and, finally, referrals from the 300 owners at the Steamboat Grand.