Steamboat Ski Area owner moving its Vancouver headquarters to Denver |

Steamboat Ski Area owner moving its Vancouver headquarters to Denver

Ski area owner cites "strategic, corporate and financial" benefits of relocation from Vancouver

Jason Blevins/The Denver Post

— Intrawest, owner of Steam­­boat Ski Area and operator of the Winter Park Resort, is moving its Vancouver, British Col­­um­­bia, headquarters to Denver.

Since whittling its ownership in the iconic British Columbia ski area Whistler-Blackcomb in recent years, the company's two largest resorts are in Colorado.

"The relocation consolidates the strategic, corporate, and financial functions in one location and brings senior management closer to Intrawest's core business assets," according to a statement released Wednesday.

Intrawest's chief executive Bill Jensen, a former Vail Resorts executive with strong ties to Colorado, recently sent company employees a memo announcing the move to the "greater Denver area" by the end of 2011.

Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. President Chris Diamond said through his assistant that he had no comment.

Intrawest was founded in 1976 by Joe Houssian as a high-density urban real estate developer in Vancouver. A decade later, the company began acquiring ski resorts. By the late 1990s, Intra­­west was the largest resort operator in North America, with resorts in France, Canada, Colorado, New Jersey, West Virginia, California, Vermont and Florida.

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In 2006, the company was bought by New York hedge fund operator Fortress Investment Group for $2.8 billion, almost $1.4 billion of which was debt. Fortress missed a $524 million payment on that debt in 2009, forcing Intrawest to begin shedding resorts.

Intrawest sold its French Les Arcs resort and Copper Mountain in late 2009. Last year Intrawest jettisoned its Panorama Mountain Village in British Columbia, Sandestin beach resort in Florida, New Jersey's Mountain Creek ski area, a majority of its Whistler-Blackcomb ski area and its real estate holdings in the Village at Squaw in California. Today Intrawest owns five resorts and operates Winter Park, which is owned by the city of Denver.

Steamboat Pilot & Today reporter Mike Lawrence contributed to this story.

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