Hotel Online Special Report
Intrawest and Compagnie des Alpes 
to Form International Alliance; 
Unique Partnership Links Premier Ski Resorts in Europe and North America
VANCOUVER, May , 1998 - Intrawest (NYSE: IDR) today announced that it is creating a global alliance with Compagnie des Alpes ("CDA"), the world's largest ski operator in terms of skier visits. CDA has ownership interests in 11 resorts in France and one in Italy and is a publicly traded company based in Paris, France. The two companies are creating a marketing and operating alliance that links many of the best-known mountain resorts in the world, such as Intrawest's Whistler/Blackcomb (British Columbia), Mammoth (California) and Copper (Colorado), and CDA's La Plagne (with 2.4 million skier visits per year and 110 lifts), Tignes (one of the very rare resorts in the world offering skiing 365 days a year) and Flaine in France. In total the resorts controlled by these two companies attracted more than 15 million skier visits last year.

To create this alliance:

  • Intrawest will purchase 15.7% of the common shares of CDA.
  • C3D (Caisse des Depot-Developpement), the controlling shareholder of CDA, will purchase one million shares of Intrawest from treasury. Both the Intrawest investment in CDA and C3D's investment in Intrawest were established at market values.
  • Intrawest will acquire 49% of CDA's Italian company which owns 55% of Courmayeur in Italy.
"This alliance will provide Intrawest with an entree into Europe which has 240 million skier visits, the largest ski market in the world," said Joe Houssian, Intrawest's president and chief executive officer. "By joining forces with CDA we are able to do this with a low financial and operating risk." There are cross-marketing opportunities whereby we can jointly market to each other's resorts and to tour operators," Houssian added. "We have also agreed in principle to explore additional business opportunities with CDA, including possible real estate development at several of their resorts and the opportunity to acquire additional resorts in other European countries."

According to Houssian, the investment in CDA will also better position Intrawest's resorts as potential destinations for European skiers. "CDA's resorts have approximately 10 million skier visits per year and we will be able to market directly to that audience."

Chairman, president and chief executive officer of CDA Jean-Pierre Sonois expressed enthusiasm for the alliance. "This partnership presents us with an opportunity to combine Intrawest's expertise in resort design and development with our expertise in managing large-scale mountain operations," he said. "From our base as a developer of North American mountain resorts, we are initiating steps to grow into a global, diversified, leisure company," said Houssian. "We believe our development expertise and proven operational methods can be successfully applied to additional leisure market segments and other areas of the world."

The investment in CDA is the third planned acquisition announced by Intrawest this quarter. On April 2 Intrawest announced the planned acquisition of Raven Golf Group, which owns two golf courses in Arizona, as a first step in its objective to acquire, develop and operate golf courses and golf resorts. Raven's two courses were recently named by Golf Digest readers as among the ten best courses in North America in terms of service. On May 26 the company also announced the acquisition of Sandestin Beach Resort, the largest resort and residential community in northwestern Florida with 63 holes of golf, seven miles of waterfront, approximately 2,300 developable residential units and approximately 200,000 square feet of developable commercial space. The operation at Sandestin includes the management of 700 rental units, ownership of a conference center, shopping center, marina, and assorted retail and food and beverage operations.

Compagnie des Alpes, listed on the second market of Paris for the last four years, has become a world leader in ski resort mountain operations in terms of skier visits. Through its subsidiaries, the company equips, maintains and operates some of the largest ski areas in the French and Italian Alps in world-class resorts. CDA operates under long-term concessions the ski areas of La Plagne, Tignes, Les Arcs, Peisey Vallandry, Meribel, Les Menuires, Les Grands Montets and a group of four resorts in Grand Massif (Flaine, Samoens, Morillon and Sixt) in France, and Courmayeur in Italy.

  • CDA is Europe's leader in ski resort operations.  It controls 22% of the French market placing it well ahead of the next two competitors which each have about 5% of the market.
  • CDA derives most of its revenue from lift operations.  CDA's eight subsidiary companies equip, maintain and operate some of the largest ski areas in the French and Italian Alps.
  • CDA's major competitive edge is that many of its resorts are at high altitude, which is favourable for maintaining good quality snow.
The resorts CDA's companies operate, CDA's ownership percentage in these companies and the 1997 skier visits at the resorts are
summarized below.
Resort (x)
CDA% in Operating Company
Skier Visits (000,s)
Verticle Base (feet)
Elevation Rise (feet)
LaPlagne 77.4% 2,327 4,100 6,600
Tignes 56.9% 1,395 5,000 2,950
Les Arcs 84.6% 1,375 3,600 7,000
Les Menuires 77.1% 1,176 6,000 4,600
Les Grands Montets 62.5% 395 3,400 7,200
Meribel Alpina 37.3% 864 5,500 4,265
Peisey Vallandry 100% 268 5,200 3,300
Courmayeur 55% 435 4,000 5,020
(x) In addition to the above, in mid-December 1997 CDA acquired a group of four resorts in Grand Massif (Flaine, Samoens, Morillon and Sixt) which combined have approximately two million skier visits.

Intrawest is the leading developer and operator of mountain resorts across North America. The company owns resorts at Whistler/Blackcomb and Panorama in British Columbia, Tremblant and Mont Ste. Marie in Quebec, Copper in Colorado, Stratton in Vermont, Snowshoe in West Virginia, Mountain Creek at Vernon in New Jersey and Mammoth in California (58%). Intrawest is also creating world-class, four-season resort villages at Keystone Resort, Colorado and Squaw Valley near Lake Tahoe, California. With its recent announcements of the planned acquisitions of Raven Golf Group and Sandestin, Intrawest would own and/or operate 12 golf courses with 5 more under construction.

Intrawest Corporation's shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (IDR) and the Toronto and Montreal exchanges (ITW). The Company is headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia. The statements which are not historical facts contained in this release are forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Intrawest's actual results could differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to, seasonality, weather conditions, competition, general economic conditions, currency fluctuations and other risks detailed in the company's filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Valerie L. Sharp 
Director Corporate Communications  Intrawest
Also See:
Intrawest Announces Completion of Sandestin Acquisition / July 1998

To search Hotel Online data base of News and Trends Go to Hotel.Online Search
Back to Hotel.Online Press Releases
Home | Welcome! | Hospitality News | Classifieds | Catalogs & Pricing | Viewpoint Forum | Ideas/Trends
Please contact Hotel.Online with your comments and suggestions.