Starwood Capital to Buy California Ski Resort

Mammoth, Calif. -- Starwood Capital Group has agreed to buy a majority interest in the ski resort here, which includes about 1,000 residential and lodging units combined, and about 30,000 square feet of commercial space.

Starwood Capital's purchase of Mammoth Mountain promises to turn a quiet, four-season resort located on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains into a luxury destination on the order of Vail and Aspen, in Colorado.

"Mammoth Mountain provides a wonderful opportunity to take a well-managed company to the next level," Marc Perrin, managing director of Starwood Capital, said yesterday in announcing the acquisition. "The mountain is one of North America's top physical resort assets from a terrain, average snowfall, and beauty aspect, and our investment comes on the heels of $150 million of capital investment in the mountain over the past 10 years."

No definite plans were announced, but it is expected that Starwood Capital will develop additional hotels in the area, boosting Mammoth Mountain's draw as an incentive destination.

Starwood will also manage some 4,000 acres of land, which contains ski lifts and slopes, at Mammoth and June mountains. The land is under a lease from the U.S. Forest Service that expires in 2024.

The purchase price was undisclosed, but the companies valued the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area at $365 million. Mammoth Mountain chairman Rusty Gregory and Intrawest Corp. will hold minority interests.

Located about 300 miles north of Los Angeles, Mammoth Mountain draws about 1.5 million visitors annually.

Based in Greenwich, Conn., Starwood Capital is led by Barry Sternlicht, the former chairman and chief executive of Starwood Hotels. Despite the similar names and Sternlicht connection, the two companies are separate.

The Mammoth Mountain transaction is expected to close within three months.