Big Sky/Moonlight Fall Under One Umbrella

Acquisition of Moonlight solidifies its future

PHOTO: Courtesy Moonlight Basin

PHOTO: Courtesy Moonlight Basin

In what should bring to a close a troubling period for Moonlight Basin, the Montana ski area is now under the same ownership as neighboring Big Sky Resort and The Yellowstone Club.

CrossHarbor Capital Partners, owners of The Yellowstone Club (a posh private ski club for gazillionaires), and Boyne Resorts, owners of Big Sky, announced yesterday that they had come to terms with a Lehman Brothers subsidiary to purchase Moonlight Basin. Moonlight and Big Sky, which have shared a boundary on the 11,166-foot-tall Lone Mountain, will now be run as one ski area. Though it was possible in the past to purchase an interconnect lift ticket (running around $100) to ski both on one pass, the ski areas were run separately, with their own identities and two ski patrols, yet marketed as “The Biggest Skiing in America.” Now that they will be operated seamlessly, a press release promised, it truly will be with 5,532 skiable acres and 4,350 vertical feet under one umbrella.

For Big Sky skiers, it means a few things. Firstly, Moonlight emerges from serious financial struggles starting in 2008 when Lehman Brothers went bankrupt. Not able to pay the bills on its high-end real estate (including a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course), Moonlight was forced to downsize staff and eventually filed for bankruptcy a year later. This stoked fears that the ski area would not be able to open for the winter. The lifts always ran, but the rumor mill speculated a tenuous future. The acquisition puts an end to those fears and should solidify lift-access for some of the best inbounds skiing in the country: the Headwaters and North Summit Snow Field.

Secondly, with CrossHarbor and Boyne now owning most of the real estate in the Big Sky area (they also purchased the neighboring and similarly high-end Spanish Peaks Resort this summer), they promised that future development would be consistent and sustainable. One of Big Sky’s primary sore spots is that it grew without any cohesive planning, which gave way to piecemeal development and no real town center.

With scarce details available, it is unknown whether season passes or a standard day ticket will provide access to both Big Sky and Moonlight. It’s also unclear what it means for the ski patrol, ski school, and mountain ops.

Something that we can guarantee, however, is that your lift ticket still won’t work at The Yellowstone Club.

Posted In: First Chair

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  • Commentista

    “…they promised that future development would be consistent and sustainable.” Gee, never heard that before. Note how real estate and golf developments (gag) are one of the major reasons Moonlight sank. Taking wagers now to see how long that lesson is remembered. “Sustainable” condo wasteland in 3-2-1……

    • NOTPISTEOFF

      This is crap. Sustainable real estate and golf development and a slew of other summer operations are the reasons ski resorts survive the summer and are able to make enough money to open the following winter.

      Id say the biggest reason moonlight went OB is because the company spent too much on labor and other frivolous overhead. Their condos and golf course might not have been successful because there is NOTHING to do in the summer besides golf. Big Sky has golf, Dad and Mom can go golfing and pawn the kids of on a myriad of other summer activities, which you guessed it, GENERATE REVENUE.

      • Arthur Fenske

        “Id say the biggest reason moonlight went OB is because the company spent too much on labor and other frivolous overhead.”

        Yeah because you don’t need good people to operate.

        Idiot.

  • NOTPISTEOFF

    SO sick of the butthurt from Moonlight locals and employees on this deal. Get your collective heads out of your collective asses. 1) You will have a job rather than possibly not having a job. 2) You will have a place to ski, rather than possibly not having a place to ski. You can’t keep operating in the red with 26 million dollar bail out loans. The place was close to not opening at all. Also, Cross Harbor is an investment firm. Quit the bitching about someone putting up cash for Boyne. If you have a problem with the way big business operates then give your house back to the bank. F@#%.

    Lastly, at least its not Vail…

  • http://www.moonlightbasin.com/ moonlightbasin

    So many rumors and speculation going on about this season. Thought we’d help clarify a few things. ALL Moonlight Basin 2013/14 Season Passes and
    tickets will be valid this season. Access to 1,900 skiable acres, 5
    terrain parks, and the legendary N. Summit and Headwaters terrain,
    guaranteed!

    College Season Pass Sale runs 8/21-25($370), and our
    regular Pre Season Pass Sale begins next month. This is it. Save a
    bundle, ski a ton, and make Moonlight your mountain!

    STAY TUNED FOR MORE INFO ON THE PENDING SALE.

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