Blue Knob Sold
Blue Knob All Seasons Resort purchased by Pittsburgh
July 17, 2017 12:50 PM
By Lawrence Walsh /
Knob All Seasons Resort, perched on the borders of Bedford and Blair counties,
has been sold to a group of Pittsburgh investors, all of whom are skiers.
new owner, Sustainable Hospitality & Development, a limited partnership,
bought the resort from Richard Gauthier, president of Blue Knob Recreation Inc.
The resort, a former Air Force radar site, opened for skiing in 1962. The
Gauthier family bought it in 1983.
sale is not expected to disrupt operations, and the resort plans to open its
snowsports season in late November or early December, depending on weather
Eric Mungai of Pittsburgh, an investor who helped put the deal together, said
the sale price is confidential, citing the terms of the purchase
Brady, press secretary of the state Department of Conservation and Natural
Resources, said the new owners signed a 29-year lease with the department. They
will pay $62,500 annually for the first 10 years, $100,000 per year for the
next 10 years and $120,000 annually for the last nine years.
resort has 34 slopes and trails served by two triple and two double chairlifts.
The vertical drop is 1,072 feet. The terrain is rated 20 percent beginner, 35
percent intermediate, 35 percent advanced and 10 percent expert. At 3,146 feet,
it is the second highest mountain in Pennsylvania.
1,385-acre resort, 420 acres of which are on state park land, has been the
subject of being for sale for many years.
Gauthier, 79, said he and his wife, Pat, decided that if they could find
someone to care for the resort as much as they did, “we’d let them run with
it.” Mr. Gauthier, who learned to ski at Blue Knob around 1974, said he spent
more than $18 million in improvements in the 33 years he operated it.
he hired Snow Engineering in 1983 to evaluate the resort before he bought it,
he was told “it needed everything. [Snow Engineering concluded its report] by
saying it was in the worst condition of any resort they had looked at.”
other things, Mr. Gauthier opened more terrain to more than double the number
of slopes and trails, added a snow tubing park, rebuilt the lodge and the golf
course, built two restaurants and a convention center, enlarged the snowmaking
system and bought snow grooming equipment.
Mungai, 49, a former professional ski instructor who has been skiing at Blue
Knob since high school, said the new owners consider Blue Knob to be “a diamond
in the rough. The investors see enormous opportunity. It is one of the best
ski/snowboard mountains in the Mid-Atlantic.”
Bender, former CEO of Seven Springs Mountain Resort and a board member of the
National Ski Areas Association, helped facilitate the sale. Mr. Bender, who led
the revival of Hidden Valley for the Buncher Co., said he is acting as an adviser
to direct the rehabilitation and development of the resort.
Mungai said survey, engineering and architectural reviews at Blue Knob are
management team is evaluating all aspects of the resort. In addition to
addressing deferred maintenance, they hope to make updates to snowmaking, the
lodge and the snow grooming fleet as well as other potential improvements.
marketing team also is working on a new website, off-season events and new
said Blue Knob’s pre-season sale of season passes has been extended until Sept.
4. For example, a weekday season pass for students, juniors (aged 12 and
younger), seniors (65 to 69) and members of the military is $99.
could/should be improved?
activities/amenities, snowmaking, lift capacity, (its network of trails),
lodging/hotel accommodations and parking.“
Mungai, a limited investor, said there are six primary investors, whom he
declined to identify. He said they are all snowsports enthusiasts who ski at
are in discussions with several other parties who have a vested interest in the
Johnstown/Altoona region and are interested in the development/growth
opportunities at Blue Knob,” he said. The resort is within 25 miles of Altoona,
Bedford and Johnstown.
investors have applied to the highly competitive state Redevelopment Capital
Assistance Program for a $2.5 million grant. If approved, the money could be
used to re-grade the Learn-to-Ski/Snowboard Area and install a covered conveyor
lift to take beginners back to the top of the slope.
grant also might be used to build a terrain park, a new handle tow, automated
snowmaking and increased pumping capacity for the snowmaking system. However,
the grant program has yet to be funded by the state legislature.
Walsh writes about a variety of outdoor activities for the Post-Gazette.