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Intrawest may partner with Denver at Winter Park


Intrawest was named Monday as one of two finalists chosen by the City of Denver to become its partner in running Winter Park Resort.

Six companies answered a request for qualifications call in the city’s search for a partner to help develop and run the ski operation. The field was narrowed to East-West Partners Inc. and Intrawest.

The two companies now have to Nov. 9 to submit final proposals. The city is expected to pick one of the companies in mid-December and then negotiate a management partnership agreement.

Winter Park, in Colorado’s Front Range, is 85 miles from Denver. It is the only Colorado resort served by a ski train, which runs between Denver and the resort on weekends through the winter. Winter Park has 3,060 feet of vertical, more than 2,800 acres of terrain, and sits at a base elevation of 9,000 feet. The area is well-known for its disabled ski programs.

Denver has been seeking a partner for Winter Park because it is felt the area has fallen behind privately owned resorts in recent years. Some estimates suggest the resort needs a $61 million infusion to make it competitive with other Colorado resorts.

Meanwhile, Intrawest president and CEO Joe Houssian said this week that the company is not holding back on its planned investment at Mont Tremblant. Intrawest has plans to spend $1 billion at the Quebec resort in three phases. The second phase of construction will begin as planned this summer.

Houssian noted Tremblant’s proximity to major population centres in Quebec and Ontario – 5 million people live within a two-hour drive. That rubber-tire traffic would keep the resort busy even though much of the tourism industry and airline traffic in general has declined since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, he said.

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