News » Whistler

intrawest annual report

Intrawest has reached the critical mass necessary to capitalize on its network of mountain resorts, warm weather resorts and European connections, according to the company’s 1998 annual report. "As the network grows, the synergies in cross-marketing, the extensive variety we offer to the tourism and convention industry, and the sponsorship arrangements and bulk purchasing transactions that we are able to negotiate, all accelerate the company’s success," the report states in its introduction. The past year has been perhaps the most diverse and active in Intrawest’s history. The company’s major acquisitions included Mountain Creek resort in New Jersey, the Raven Golf Group, Sandestin Resort in Florida (the first warm-weather resort for Intrawest), and a 16 per cent stake in Compagnie des Alpes, the world’s largest ski operator in terms of skier visits with resorts in France and Italy. But on top of the acquisitions, Intrawest also completed two public offerings of unsecured debentures of $125 million in Canada and US$125 million, and raised $110 million in an equity issue of 3,850,000 common shares. On the real estate front, revenue doubled over the previous year, to $226.4 million, including sales of 376 homes — worth $140 million — at four US resorts in a four week period. Three Intrawest resorts, Whistler/Blackcomb, Snowshoe in Vermont and Mammoth, California, posted record numbers for 1998. In 1994 Intrawest decided to concentrate on the resort/leisure real estate market and sold off its office buildings and urban real estate developments. "The last four years have been incredibly rewarding as the people of Intrawest worked together to put in place the infrastructure to make that happen," Joe Houssian, president, chairman and CEO writes in the report. "The building blocks are now in place and in the process we have emerged as the largest company in the Western Hemisphere in our business." Houssian also outlines a strategy for Intrawest’s partnership with Compagnie des Alpes. "...together we will expand CDA’s European base of eleven ski resorts in France and one in Italy to other locations as opportunities arise. This investment now gives us a window on the largest ski market in the world. Building on the benefits that accrue to a world-scale organization, we have already begun pursuing the cross-marketing opportunities of this relationship which will enable us to link many of Europe’s and North America’s best-known mountain resorts." Intrawest’s foray into the golf business also meshes with these cross-marketing plans. But Houssian says it is the growth and potential of Intrawest’s existing resorts that "is the foundation of our optimism. In our Resort Operations Group we grew earnings from operations 19 per cent last year by applying the Intrawest formula to a multi-resort network." Despite the economic uncertainty in much of the world right now Houssian states Intrawest does "not have to acquire more resorts to maintain our growth targets of 20 per cent-plus per year. Instead, room for growth is built into our existing portfolio." "We believe we are only beginning to see the strategic advantages of owning a multi-resort network both in terms of synergistic growth as well as economies of scale," Houssian writes.