With over $1.5 billion in annual revenues and nearly $3 billion in assets, Intrawest Corporation has come of age…and set its sites on the world.
The company’s recent investment in luxury, adventure travel outfitter Abercrombie & Kent (A&K) means the company that revolutionized the ski industry will now be reinventing leisure travel globally. To mark the achievement, Daniel Jarvis, CEO of the company’s Leisure & Travel Group (LTG) will ring the closing bell of the New York Exchange on Wednesday, November 10.
Intrawest’s growth has been fueled by the company’s commitment to create truly memorable experiences for its guests. More than a developer of village-centered destination resorts, more than a ski and golf resort operator, more than a vacation club, Intrawest has been providing travelers extraordinary adventure vacation experiences for nearly 20 years.
At the heart of Intrawest are the company’s year-round resorts throughout North America including Whistler Blackcomb, (BC); Panorama Mountain Village, (BC); Blue Mountain, (ONT); Mont Tremblant Resort, (QUE); Mountain Creek, (NJ); Snowshoe Mountain, (WV); Stratton, (VT); Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, (FL); Copper Mountain, (CO); Winter Park, (CO); and Mammoth Mountain, (CA).
Founded in 1976 by chairman, president and CEO Joe S. Houssian, Intrawest began as a residential and urban real estate firm. A chance meeting in the mid-1980’s led to a partnership between Houssian, Hugh R. Smythe, now president and COO of LTG and Gary Redmond, president and CEO, Intrawest Placemaking. At the time, Smythe and Redmond were both senior managers at Blackcomb Mountain. This fusion of experience and expertise brought together the best in resort operations and real estate expertise.
“The big dream at the time was to combine a festival marketplace atmosphere with real estate development. Hugh had a vision of a ski resort being more than a place to ski, but rather an all-encompassing experience. Creating a business model around that vision broke the mold in the hotel/retail/festival industry. It was a pioneering development,” says Jarvis, who joined the company in 1989 as chief financial officer before being named CEO of LTG.
The unique partnership led to many remarkable achievements.
“Blackcomb doubled in size within one year, surpassing Whistler. It was an instant success—like magic,” recalls Smythe. The company acquired management of Whistler in 1996, making Whistler Blackcomb—site of the 2010 Winter Olympics—the premiere ski resort in North America.
Another Intrawest success story is Mont Tremblant, located in the Laurentian Mountains. Tremblant was a dilapidated ghost town when Smythe first laid eyes on it. Despite being bankrupt, having had the electricity turned off and the resort completely shut down, Intrawest recognized the potential to transform it into a European-style alpine village, reminiscent of Old Quebec.
“Within two years, Tremblant was renovated and received its first award for service,” says Smythe. “The resort has since received a slew of awards; most recently it was ranked #1 in lodging by Ski Magazine.”
Intrawest’s entrepreneurial spirit and enthusiasm has propelled the company throughout its history. In addition to the resorts it owns and operates, Intrawest is involved in the development of six other world-renowned vacation destinations: The Village at Squaw Valley, (CA); Solitude, (UT); Keystone Resort, (CO); MonteLago Village at Lake Las Vegas Resort, (NV); Les Arcs, (France); Snowmass at Aspen, (CO).
The growing Intrawest World also includes interests in Canadian Mountain Holidays, the largest heli-skiing/heli-hiking operator in the world; Intrawest Golf, responsible for the development and management of leading golf courses around the globe, including its premier brand, Raven Golf Clubs, with locations in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, West Virginia and Cabo San Lucas. Additional Intrawest courses can be found in Hawaii, British Columbia, and Florida; and Club Intrawest, a unique vacation ownership program with current locations in British Columbia and Quebec, California, Hawaii and Florida and soon in Ontario and Mexico.
The formation of the Leisure & Travel Group has positioned Intrawest to become the clear leader in the destination resort and specialty travel industry. No one has a greater range of, or more expertise in, creating and delivering active and authentic travel and leisure experiences. The breadth of the company’s assets, its range of expertise and track record of innovation have placed it in the forefront of the leisure travel industry. From sugary-white beaches and azure-colored waters to glistening, snow-capped mountain peaks a mile in the sky; across endless dusty plains and massive glaciers of ice as smooth as glass; through lush tropical jungles and thickly-knotted forests, Intrawest makes every corner of the world accessible to travelers by providing an unrivaled array of leisure travel alternatives.