Vail Resorts relocating corporate offices to Denver
 

Company also shuffles senior staff
 


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Vail Mountain on the day the ski company hired a new chief executive, Robert Katz,who promptly announced resort headquarters would move to Denver.
Shane Macomber/Vail Daily
 

Alex Miller
February 28, 2006


AVON —The naming Tuesday of company insider Rob Katz to replace outgoing Vail Resorts chief executive Adam Aron wasn’t nearly as surprising as the announcement that the corporate headquarters — along with about 100 employees — would be relocated to Denver.

According to a statement made by Katz Tuesday, the decision was meant to more centrally locate the company, which owns Heavenly Resort in California in addition to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone. The company also owns the Grand Teton Lodge in Jackson Hole, Wyo. and a controlling interest in luxury hotel company RockResorts.

“Moving our headquarters to the Denver area will facilitate lower occupancy rates, provide greater administrative efficiencies, enhance recruiting opportunities and allow more centralized access to all of the company’s properties,” Katz said. “It also better positions the company for future strategic growth.”

Bill Jensen, Vail Mountain’s chief operating officer, was promoted to co-president of Vail Resorts’ Mountain Division, along with Roger McCarthy, who oversees Breckenridge and Keystone resorts. He applauded the appointment of Katz and said he thought the move to Denver was a good idea as well.

“I think it’s good for Vail Resorts the company to have that focus from a corporate standpoint,” Jensen said. “We’re obviously sympathetic to the 100 people in the Seasons Building who will have to go through those discussions about lifestyle and opportunity, to weigh all those things.”

Jensen said his job will remain mostly the same, although he will have broader responsibilities in the Vail Valley.

“The complexities of my job will go up a bit, but I’m comfortable with that,” he said.


 

 What’s moving, what’s not
About 100 employees of Vail Resorts’ management team currently located in the Avon Seasons Building will be relocated to a new office in the Denver area, the company said. Senior management, marketing, sales and human resources will move to the Front Range, but several hundred other employees will remain at the Seasons.

The company also said some positions would be moved to an office at Keystone Resort, while positions related to the company’s Mountain Division and Vail Resorts Development Company will remain where they are.

The relocation of corporate HQ will also include consolidation of an existing sales office in Denver, as well as the company’s RockResorts office.
‘A good move’
Nolan Rosall, president of RRC Associates — a marketing and research firm that specializes in the ski and tourism industry — said he thought relocating the company’s headquarters to Denver was a good thing.

“I think it’s a good move for the organization,” Rosall said. “Denver is a major metro area with access to a lot of infrastructure and a central location. A lot of their operations will extend beyond Colorado, so it probably makes sense.”

Rosall also said the move may be a signal that Vail Resorts has an eye on further expansion. “It could mean there’s a desire for further diversification, either geographically or functionally,” he said.

The strategy of keeping Jensen and McCarthy in place as the operations executives is a sound one, Rosall added.

“You’ve got the operational people in the mountains and the corporate folks more in Denver, so they’re bridging both locations,” he said.

Harry Frampton, who was president of the Vail Associates board of directors in the 1980s, also saw the move as a positive. “They probably won’t have a lot of growth in Vail per se,” Frampton said, adding that a central location like Denver would be a better base of operations.

“It’s clearly going to be a time of change,” he said. “Ultimately, the Vail community will do the very best if Vail Resorts prospers as a company, if it continues to be a great company in the hospitality business.”


 
 Who’s who at Vail Resorts
Following the reshuffling of the senior management at Vail Resorts, here’s a lineup of who’s who with what title now:

Rob Katz: Chief executive officer
Joe Micheletto: Chairman, board of directors
Bill Jensen: Co-president, Mountain Division: (Vail Mountain plus oversight of Beaver Creek and Heavenly Resort)
Roger McCarthy: Co-president, Mountain Division: (Breckenridge/Keystone)
Jeffrey Jones: Senior executive vice president
Martha Rehm: Executive vice president
Chris Jarnot: Senior vice president
Aron out
Katz will replace Adam Aron, who announced his resignation in January. Originally planning to stay on board until June, the company announced that Aron resigned as chief executive and relinquished his seat on the board effective Tuesday.

Filling Aron’s spot as chairman of the board of directors will be Joe Micheletto, a boardmember since 1996 and former CEO of Ralston Resorts — the company that previously owned Keystone, Breckenridge and Arapahoe Basin.

Aron oversaw the move from a private to a public company in 1997 and served as both CEO and chairman of the board for a decade. He has not yet indicated where he will go but said he will retain a residence in Vail.

“Rob thoroughly understands the vision and mission of Vail Resorts, and his considerable financial and management skills will leverage the talents of our outstanding cadre of officers,”
Aron said in a press release. “I look forward to helping ensure a smooth, seamless transition.”

Aron came to Vail from Apollo Partners, the New York investment firm that brought the company public. He is credited with taking the company’s mission beyond that of a ski operator and into that of a more well-rounded hospitality company.

With a greater emphasis on real estate, luxury properties and retail and restaurant businesses, Vail Resorts under Aron saw its stock price grow from around $20 per share to a high of over $38. Tuesday, the stock climbed about 4 percent — closing at $33.04 — following the announcements.

Alex Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14625, or amiller@vaildaily.com.

Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado