The news right now is full of coverage on the terrible wildfires burning around Los Angeles because it’s now so hot and dry there. Depressed about the forests and homes burning up, I wondered about the drought there.
Did it affect California in other ways? I ran across the Please Play with Madeleine Brand Show on KCRW, a radio station in California, where she interviews Andy Wirth, the CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings. He owns the top two ski resorts in Olympic Valley (where the 1960 Winter Olympics were held), Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. They’re near Lake Tahoe. He knows the ski industry in that area better than anyone else. Click the following to read more: Andy Wirth Elected Chairman of Reno-Tahoe Regional Air Service Corporation and Andy Wirth – Squaw Valley CEO and Philanthropist
In California, the winter of 2015-2016 was one of the driest on record. Wirth acknowledged it was a tough winter, with ski visitation down 20 percent from last year. However, Wirth said the company has a strong capital structure and will survive even if such dry winters became the norm.
Squaw Valley is profitable, although not as profitable as it would have been given a normal amount of snow. They are positioned to survive such variations in the weather. The key is to be ready to take advantge of advantageous situations when they occur.
He said he himself got in a lot of great skiing during the past winter. They have become really good at making snow and managing the snow that does fall. Learn more about Andy Wirth: www.kcrw.com/people/andy-wirth and tahoetopia.com/news/interview-squaw-valley-ceo-andy-wirth
He has researched what the weather is going to be like in the future, and referenced the Stanford Report, which predicts an increase in the volatility of weather. Therefore, he plans to invest more in making snow.
The interviewer, Madeleine Brand, brought up the viewpoint of Colorado ski resort owners than within 20 years, the climate will be much warmer. There will not be any ski seasons in the United States. Andy Wirth didn’t try to predict weather so far into the future, but agrees they all need to hedge their business models in both summer and winter. Wirth is promoting summer business at his resorts, and is almost sold out.
Andy Wirth has worked in the hotel and resort industry for 30 years, beginning with Steamboat Springs Resort. In 2010 he left Steamboat to take over Squaw Valley from its former president, Nancy Cushing. At that time, Squaw Valley Holdings owned only the Squaw Valley resort. However, Alpine Meadows is its nearest neighbor. In 2011, they merged.
It sounds to me as though Olympic Valley is in the hands of a smart businessperson determined to succeed no matter what happens.