SAM Magazine—Duluth, Minn., Aug. 29, 2022—Charles Skinner Jr. has closed on the acquisition of Big Snow Resort, which includes Indianhead and Blackjack ski areas, all of which will be renamed with new branding. Big Snow will transition to Snowriver Mountain Resort, the Indianhead area will be called Jackson Creek Summit, and Blackjack will be Black River Basin. The latter two are named after the rivers that flow through the resort in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
“There are two motivating factors for the coming name changes,” said Skinner. “The first is a sensitivity to co-opting Native American culture, and the second is to eliminate confusion as the name Big Snow is used by another ski operation [Big Snow indoor ski dome in New Jersey]. We also feel the name changes help signal a new era of capital investment at Snowriver.”
The acquisition adds to the family’s existing portfolio of Granite Peak, Wis., and Lutsen Mountains, Minn. The group will be called Midwest Family Ski Resorts.
“Indianhead was the first ski area in the UP, and the staff and previous ownership did a great job combining two ski areas into one and improving operations,” said Skinner. “Our team is excited to welcome the resort’s staff to our family of resorts.”
A cross-company team of leaders will manage the properties, with current managers taking on larger roles for all three resorts. Charlotte Skinner is now chief of staff and chief financial officer; Lutsen Mountains general manager and marketing director Jim Vick is taking on the role of chief of ski terrain, overseeing grooming and snow quality; and Granite Peak GM Greg Fisher is now chief marketing officer, directing all marketing, communications, and advertising. Vick and Fisher will maintain their roles as GMs.
In addition, Amanda Plummer from Lutsen Mountains has been named chief data officer, and Caitlin Eisch, head of HR at Granite Peak, is now chief employee experience officer. Several other key managers have been named to cross-company roles, as well.
“By adding the Michigan resort to our team, we identified programming, policy, and direction efficiencies,” said Charlotte Skinner. “In addition, elevating veterans from each property will help our company perform better for our customers and employees.”
Snowriver will continue to offer a single lift ticket for the entire resort, and provide shuttle transportation between the two areas until a connecting lift is constructed.
One of the first tasks for the new multi-mountain team will be to transition Snowriver to a new point-of-sale system and new season pass structure. The Midwest Family Ski Resorts’ Legendary Pass product, which includes unlimited skiing and riding at Granite Peak and Lutsen Mountains, will also include Snowriver for the 2022-23 season. Sales of the product have been paused across all properties while the resorts transition to the new pass. Legendary Pass sales are slated to resume on Sept. 9. Guests will be able to upgrade from the Gold or Silver passes to the Legendary Pass prior to the end of the fall pass sale.