The purchase of Mountain Creek - the big kid on the block in New Jersey skiing and riding - by Crystal Springs creates the largest four-season resort destination in the New York Metro area.
"Combining these two resorts, and adding a few missing pieces of the puzzle, is going to put this place on the map and realize the dream of the founders of 30 years ago. We are an hour from the most affluent market in the world," Crystal Springs President Andrew Mulvihill told OnTheSnow.
Canadian-based Intrawest ULC has owned Mountain Creek the past 12 years, installing five new lifts and ongoing snowmaking upgrades, but ran into financial difficulties in the past year that has forced companywide retrenchment.
"The purchase means Mountain Creek is going to continue to operate, and that we're going to take the resort to the next level. Intrawest had tremendous plans, and accomplished wonderful things, but they weren't able to bring it across home plate. Frankly we have the local know-how to do that. Look at what we accomplished at Crystal Springs in the the last 10 years compared with what they accomplished; it's night and day," Mulvihill said.
He pointed to Crystal Springs' Grand Cascades Lodge, a condominium hotel that's fully sold and enjoying steadily increasing occupancy rates that buck national trends.
Mountain Creek's ski and snowboard slopes, water park, and mountain bike venues are now combined with Crystal Springs' seven golf courses, four-star Restaurant Latour, two full-service spas ranked in the top 30 in America, Minerals Sports Club, indoor and outdoor pools, and various conference, meeting, and wedding facilities.
"This newly formed mega-resort is unparalleled given the breadth, uniqueness and quality of its combined offerings to residents, day visitors and overnight guests. From this platform, we have major expansion plans to create a first-class tourist destination on par with New England and the Carolinas, but with convenient proximity to the New York Metro area," Mulvihill said.
Two years ago Mountain Creek focused its freestyle activities at South Peak, and family skiing and riding at Vernon Peak. The resort went from about 15 percent of terrain dedicated to terrain parks to 45 percent, all at South Peak and South Lodge.
Mountain Creek in all offers 45 trails and parks, an eight-lane snow tubing park, 100 percent snowmaking and night skiing, a 1,040-foot vertical drop, and 11 lifts including the eight-passenger Cabriolet Chair, the Vernon Triple and the Sojourn Double.
While still preliminary, Mulvihill said, Crystal Springs' plans include a rainforest-themed indoor water park hotel, a base area village with entertainment, dining and retail, as well as a "main street" with venues such as artisan food makers, a winery, brew pub, cheese maker, ice creamery, bakery, chocolatier, and more. Also contemplated are several internationally branded resort hotels. On the recreational menu are other mountain outdoor play elements such as mountain luge, zip lines, and lift-accessed water slides as well as a renewed focus on festivals and entertainment.