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Grouse Mountain Resort sells for second time in two years

Northland Properties Corp. new owner

For the second time in 18 months, the ownership of Grouse Mountain Resort is changing hands.

Northland Properties Corporation, which owns hotels, the Revelstoke Mountain Resort, and a chain of diners, announced an agreement to buy the popular resort Thursday.

The resort was previously sold to the China Minsheng Investment Group in July 2017 for a reported $200 million, according to the Globe and Mail.

Northland Properties declined to disclose their purchase price.

The deal is expected to close at the end of January, according to Northland Properties chief marketing and digital officer Manoj Jasra.

Replacing the seldom-used Blue Skyride with a new lift up the mountain is a “high priority,” according to Jasra, who listed upgrades to facilities and transportation as the company’s primary focus.

The company is not about to erect new buildings on the mountaintop, he added.

“We don’t have immediate plans to say, build a hotel up there,” he said.

Noting the company owns 60 Denny’s restaurants in Canada, Jasra said he wasn’t sure “if Denny’s will show up at Grouse Mountain or not.”

Asked about the challenges of running a mountain resort amid increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, Jasra emphasized that Grouse is a year-round attraction.

“Although climate change is definitely upon the world immensely . . . we saw a great business investment,” he said.

The acquisition makes sense, particularly given that the company also owns a resort in Revelstoke, explained Capilano University instructor Blake Rowsell. Aside from teaching courses in tourism management and outdoor recreation at CapU, Rowsell also works as a heli-ski guide for Vail Resorts, which owns Whistler Blackcomb.

“There are many independent resorts, like Revelstoke, that are trying to maintain and exist without getting bought up by one of these massive conglomerates,” he said, explaining Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Company have been “buying up everything that they can buy.”

Business strategies in the mountain resort industry have been hugely affected by climate change, Rowsell noted.

“The snow line is continuing to go up,” he said.

That means diversifying both in terms of offering non-snow related activities such as shopping and ziplines, as well as providing other options for diehard skiers and snowboarders in search of snow.

Noting that Revelstoke has so far had a good year for snow relative to Whistler, Rowsell suggested it would make sense for Northland to sell combined passes for Grouse and Revelstoke.

“Going to Revelstoke is not that much farther for folks who live in the Vancouver area,” he said.

Having positioned itself as more than a ski hill, Grouse was an attractive purchase, Rowsell said. The acquisition also makes a statement, he added.

“This is a big push for them to buy an alternative property, to say ‘We’re a major player.’”

Grouse Mountain Resort employees were informed of the change of ownership Thursday morning, according to the resort’s communications manager Julia Grant.

The company has not yet met with representatives from the District of North Vancouver, according to the municipality’s communications officer Courtenay Rannard.

“[We] look forward to doing so to better understand the long-term plans moving forward, as this is an important, local community mountain and landmark in North Vancouver,” Rannard wrote in an email.

Northland CEO Tom Gaglardi, who is also the owner and governor of the Dallas Stars of the NHL, stated in a press release the company would “maintain and evolve the iconic Grouse Mountain experience.”

Northland Properties Corporation is owned by the Gaglardi Family with headquarters in Vancouver.

This story has been updated since first posting to provide more information.