And to cap off a whirlwind season of mergers and acquisitions in Vermont, we have some heartwarming news: Bolton Valley Resort, which was formerly owned by the DesLauriers family (brothers Rob and Eric were pioneers in extreme skiing), is back in their hands.
A group of local investors led by Ralph DesLauriers and his son, Evan DesLauriers, closed Friday on the purchase of Bolton Valley Resort. Bolton Valley, located in the town of Bolton in Chittenden County was founded by DesLauriers and his father Roland in 1966. DesLauriers owned and operated the resort from its founding until 1997. Since then, the resort has changed hands several times and until Friday, was owned by two real estate developers from Burlington, Larry Williams and Doug Nedde. The purchase of the resort by DesLauriers and his partners brings the resort full circle after 20 years.
Moving forward, the day to day operations of the Resort will continue with the existing management team, under the leadership of the Resort’s President, George B. Potter. The new ownership company will be led by members of the DesLauriers family including Ralph DesLauriers, his son Evan, and daughter, Lindsay. In addition to the DesLauriers’ management company, a group of local investors came together to raise the money necessary to purchase the resort.
“Bolton Valley was the first place I skied when my parents drove my brother and me up to Vermont on weekends. In a year when major corporations are buying up Vermont ski resorts, Bolton Valley returns to its roots with the DesLauriers family. Being able to be part of this ski community and make a positive difference means a lot me. When Ralph and I first talked about the opportunity, I was truly honored.” said Thomas Kelliher, one of the investors in the group who lives at in Bolton Valley.
“When I grew up, none of my classmates at Burlington High School skied. Skiing was a sport for the affluent,” said Ralph DesLauriers. “When I built Bolton Valley back in the ’60’s, I made it my mission to give every Vermont child the opportunity to ski. We established after school programs where kids could take the bus up after school and learn to ski – and tens of thousands of kids all over Chittenden and Washington Counties have learned to love skiing at Bolton Valley. It’s one of the things I’m most proud of, and it’s that same family centered mission and love of Vermont that’s driving me and my kids back into this business.”
However, the new management group has its work cut out for them. Over the years, Bolton Valley Resort has aged and what was once a year-round destination resort with winter and summer amenities, several dining outlets, and a packed hotel has, over the years, reduced its amenities and narrowed its focus to the winter. The group has ambitious plans to update and renovate the property, restore summer amenities, and enhance customer service.
“People love Bolton because it’s a great place to bring your family – it’s a safe, self-contained, and affordable place to ski,” said Evan DesLauriers. “Growing up, we could ski the whole mountain as kids and our parents never worried. We don’t want to change any of that. We love Bolton Valley. But we know that it needs to be updated and that’s what we plan to do. Starting this summer – we will embark on a gradual, multi-year plan to improve the facilities, offer more amenities to our guests, and bring summer back to the mountain. And we’re committed to doing it in a way that keeps Bolton accessible and affordable for Vermonters.”
“Ralph and his family assuming ownership and stewardship for Bolton Valley Resort is great news for the resort and our community,” said Nedde. “The DesLauriers’ passion and experience related to Bolton Valley Resort is unmatched. Having three of the owners living on the mountain will provide the resort with the attention and focus that is required to be successful. I hope our community will provide strong support for Bolton which will remain locally owned.”
The purchase includes approximately 700 acres of land, six lifts, a 64-room hotel, 10 lodge condominium units, four restaurant facilities, a small general store and deli, and a 20,000 square foot indoor Sports Center. In addition, the company has contractual access and use rights for cross-country & backcountry skiing and hiking on 1,144 acres of adjacent land in Mount Mansfield State Park.
“This is a bittersweet time for us”, said Williams. “Both Doug and I love Bolton Valley and everything that it represents. We will miss being part of a great community asset and working with a great group of employees. We are also excited to have played a role in returning the resort to its original ownership. We wish Ralph, Evan and Lindsay the best in their vision of taking the resort to the next level.”
Moving forward into the next phase of Bolton Valley Resort’s evolution, the idea that every Vermont child should have an opportunity to learn to ski will remain a core part of the new owners’ social mission and will be the basis for expanding kids’ offerings into summer programs as well. The group also plans to restore and update existing buildings and infrastructure, re-establish year-round food service, including a pool-side BBQ, and develop family-centered summer programming, including outdoor swimming, tennis, mountain biking, and a Nature Learning Center.
“This is an exciting time for Bolton Valley,” said Ralph DesLauriers. “Our guests can expect to see steady progress toward a major revitalization of the resort over the next few years. Vermont’s outdoors is a gift to those of us who live here and for those who come to visit. We are looking forward to making Bolton Valley Resort a year-round recreational home for families to enjoy. It’s our way of giving back to our community.”
Bolton Valley features 71 trails for skiing and riding serviced by six lifts. Approximately 100km of high elevation Nordic terrain, a complete Sports Center and Indoor Amusement Center plus Vermont’s most extensive top-to-bottom night skiing and riding are just a few of the extras available to guests. All-inclusive, true ski-to-your-door lodging packages are available at the slopeside Inn at Bolton Valley. For more information visit www.boltonvalley.com or call 877-9BOLTON.