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After Embezzlement Scandal, Jay Peak Gets a Fresh Start with New Owners

Utah-based Pacific Resorts Group has a new flagship ski destination to add its now six-resort portfolio.

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After a half-decade of limbo, Vermont’s Jay Peak is finally getting a new owner.  Since an elaborate Ponzi scheme concocted by businessman Ariel Quiros and Jay Peak CEO Bill Stenger defrauded resort investors of $350 million between 2008 and 2016, the resort has been in conservatorship—the property of the U.S. government. An auction that took place yesterday (Sept. 7) has decided the fate of the popular Northeast Kingdom ski area.

Go Deeper: Where to Ski, Eat, Sleep, and Play at Jay Peak, Vt.

The only known bidder of the three auction participants has come away with the prize. Pacific Group Resorts, which owns and operates five ski areas in North America, including Powderhorn, Colo., Ragged Mountain, N.H., and Wintergreen, Va., will add the embattled ski area to its portfolio.

"Biggest East Coast ski resorts: Jay Peak, Vermont powder skiing"
Jay Peak is currently on the Indy Pass, which gets pass holders two days—not nearly enough for its over 350 annual inches of snow. Photo: Courtesy of Jay Peak

“We couldn’t be more pleased to have @jaypeakresort join our family of resorts after a successful auction,” Pacific Group Resorts VP and CMO Christian Knapp tweeted on Sept. 8. “Our immediate goal is a well-executed transition inspiring confidence in the staff, while maximizing synergies.”

Reaction to the news has been positive, with Jay Peak’s passionate base chiming in with suggestions on issues from capital improvements (“Never replace the Bonnie and make the humans learn to load fixed grips before we all go soft”) to pass perks (“Hoping for some @WispresortMD season pass reciprocity”).

If you’re not familiar with the criminal activity that went down at the resort, we dove into the issue here. Stenger has since been sentenced to 18 months in prison plus a fine, and Quiros to five years. In addition to misusing the EB-5 foreign visa program, the pair essentially went down for making massive (and false) promises to resort investors, including failing to build a $30 million biotechnology facility in the nearby town of Newport.

Resort Guide 2022: No. 6 in the East, Jay Peak, Vt.

It goes without saying that Pacific Group Resorts has its work cut out for it, taking on the privilege and responsibility of re-establishing faith between management and its loyal locals over the next several years. All of the pieces are there—from the great off-slope amenities including an ice rink, indoor water park, and updated lodging and dining to some of the best snow and most challenging terrain in the East.

Given Knapp’s comments, we’re optimistic that this is a good match for beloved resort, and a positive way to close the book on an unsavory chapter in Jay’s story.