Kircher Buys Crystal from Boyne Resorts

SAM Magazine—Crystal Mountain, Wash., April 19, 2017—On March 31, John Kircher acquired Crystal Mountain Ski Resort in a transaction between Kircher and Boyne Resorts, Inc. Under terms of the deal, Kircher, a longtime partner in Boyne Resorts, has swapped his share of ownership for Crystal, leaving brother Steve Kircher in control of Boyne Resorts. The sale values Crystal at $40 million and occurred 20 years to the day after Boyne purchased Crystal Mountain in 1997.

The sale also coincided with the closing of the sale of CNL’s 14 resorts to OZRE, which includes several Boyne Resorts-managed properties. However, Crystal itself had been owned directly by Boyne Resorts, not CNL.
Steve Kircher told SAM that this deal “has been in the works for 15 years. It is really about aligning ownership and management oversight as well as long term family planning. It allows each of us to have majority control of our respective assets.”

John Kircher began his career 37 years ago at family-owned Boyne Mountain, Mich. He became GM of Boyne-owned Big Sky Resort, Mont., in 1980, and oversaw Boyne Resorts’ acquisition of Crystal Mountain in 1997. He then became president and CEO of Crystal at that time and has been there ever since.

As a Boyne Resorts principal, Kircher also engineered the company’s acquisitions of Brighton, Utah, and Cypress Mountain, B.C., and oversaw general operations for these ski areas—including operations at Cypress during the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, when the area hosted 6 events.

The sale allows Kircher to operate as a local owner, and not part of a larger multi-area collection—which he sees as a benefit. “The fact that Crystal Mountain is now a locally owned and owner-managed ski operation runs totally counter to the corporatizing trends in the ski business,” Kircher said. “Crystal has done very well over time and now we are free to re-invest our dollars with complete concentration here to make Crystal Mountain the best ski and summer resort in the Northwest.”

Kircher plans to invest $5 million this summer in capital improvements, including “the most state-of-the-art snowmaking system of its kind,” with 30 SMI Super Puma snow guns. These will cover the mid- to lower-mountain areas and enable a more reliable Thanksgiving opening, as well as protect the resort and season pass buyers in low snow years. “Crystal will go into the 2017-18 season with snowmaking capabilities on the mountain unmatched anywhere else in the region.” he said.

Crystal also plans to extend hours on peak weekends and holidays next winter and will be adding new lights on Quicksilver. The area had already purchased additional gondola cabins, which will increase the lift’s capacity by 22 percent.

Significant improvements for families and beginners are planned for 2018, including a new covered carpet and a rebuild of the Discovery and Gold Hills lifts. That, Kircher said, will give the resort the most modern lift infrastructure in the Northwest. He is also looking at summer improvements such as mountain biking and improved access to the Campbell Basin area.