Owner of Lutsen Mountains and Granite Peak to Purchase Big Snow Resort, Mich.
Charles Skinner agrees to acquire the largest ski area in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
For Immediate Release
Lutsen, MN, and Wausau, WI (May 25, 2022) – Charles Skinner, the owner of Minnesota’s Lutsen Mountains Ski Area and Wisconsin’s Granite Peak Ski Area, has a definitive purchase agreement to acquire Big Snow Resort, which consists of Indianhead and Blackjack ski areas, from Art Dumke. Skinner’s family has owned and operated vacation destination ski areas catering to Midwest families for 60 years.
All the resorts in the Skinner ownership portfolio are accessible to Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, and Minneapolis/St. Paul markets, offering customers outstanding affordability and the luxury of travel flexibility.
Big Snow Resort in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, known as “Big Snow Country,” so named thanks to the lake effect snowfall of Lake Superior, delivering 200-inch averages annually. Indianhead was the first ski resort built in this region of Michigan, while Blackjack is the most recent ski area built in 1977.
“We are thrilled that these two historical, Upper Michigan ski areas, known for their prodigious powder snow, will be joining our legendary family of resorts in Minnesota and Wisconsin,” stated Charles Skinner. “The current owner and his excellent staff have done a terrific job honoring the legacy of Indianhead and Blackjack and combining them into the largest ski area in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We intend to build upon this work by investing in new lifts, snowmaking and base area infrastructure at Big Snow soon.”
Big Snow will join the tradition of its sister resorts providing Midwest families with diverse and high-quality alpine ski vacations in some of the most picturesque areas in the Midwest.
“I would first like to say how grateful we are to the many awesome employees, skiers, and community members who we’ve had the privilege of serving and working with the past many years,” stated Art Dumke, owner of Big Snow Resorts. “I’m also pleased that the new ownership has so much expertise in operating premium Midwest ski areas and is vested in improving the ski area for skiers, employees, and the community.”
“We’re committed to providing Midwest families with great destinations close to home that offer the best snow, great customer service, and fast, modern ski lifts,” added Charlotte Skinner, VP of Finance and Resource Management. “We are planning major investments at Big Snow that we know everyone will be very excited about when details are announced later this summer.”
The Skinner Family plans to retain all Big Snow Resort’s current employees. “Art has told us great things about the current staff, and we look forward to working with the entire team on this exciting new chapter for this legendary resort,” explained Charlotte Skinner. “The current management team will enjoy support from our management teams at Lutsen and Granite Peak, and our goal is always to be the best employer in the region.”
“This transaction will strengthen all three areas. We will continue our pace of investments at both Lutsen and Granite Peak,” emphasized Charles Skinner. “At Lutsen, we are pleased to announce that we will be installing a new, high-speed, 6-place chairlift from Leitner Poma on Eagle Mountain next summer to replace the ‘Bridge Lift.’ This summer, major investments are also taking place in snowmaking and a host of building improvements at both Lutsen and Granite Peak.”
The transaction includes all of the assets of Big Snow Resort, including over 1,000 acres of private land. The closing, subject to financing and due diligence completion, is expected to occur by the end of July.
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Granite Peak Ski Area
About Lutsen Mountains. Lutsen Mountains was the first ski area in Minnesota (1948). Lutsen Mountains is Minnesota’s largest ski area with its highest vertical (800’) and the most trails (95) spread over 1100 acres. Trails are served by eight lifts, including two high-speed lifts, and a 3rd high-speed lift will be installed next summer to replace the venerable Bridge Lift. Straddling four peaks of the ancient Sawtooth Mountain range, the ski area boasts unique 180-degree blue water views of the World’s largest lake, Lake Superior. Lutsen Mountains is the winter anchor of a 5,600-population economy, located in a county the size of a small state that is almost entirely dependent on tourism. Lutsen Mountains has been family-owned and operated for 74 years and is today owned and operated by Charles Skinner and his daughter Charlotte. Lutsen’s management team is led by 35-year Lutsen veteran, General Manager Jim Vick.
About Granite Peak. The ski area was the first ski area in Wisconsin (1937). Granite Peak is Wisconsin’s largest ski area with its highest vertical (700’) and most trails (54), served by seven lifts, including three high-speed lifts. Located in the Rib Mountain State Park, the ski area is the most popular winter recreational venue for Wausau residents and is the primary winter draw for Wausau’s tourism economy. The Granite Peak team is led by 20-year ski area veteran General Manager Greg Fisher.
About the Skinner Family. The Skinner Family began operating ski areas in 1962 when Charlie Skinner, Sr. founded Sugar Hills, in Grand Rapids, MN. Charlie purchased Lutsen Mountains in 1980 from founder George Nelson. Charles operated Lutsen with his brother-in-law Thomas Rider until his retirement in January when Charles took over sole ownership. Charles has been owner and president of Granite Peak since 2000. Our ski areas prioritize healthy and safe outdoor recreational experiences. Our mission also promotes our employees’ healthy and happy well-being and our diverse communities. We strive to offer the highest level of Midwest skiing to preserve the value of all of our constituencies.
Today, Lutsen and Granite Peak are owned and operated by Charles and his daughter Charlotte Skinner.
About Visit Cook County
Visit Cook County encompasses the northeastern Minnesota communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage, commonly referred to as “the Arrowhead” and the “North Shore of Lake Superior”. Grand Marais, Minn., has earned several national accolades — most recently it was named USA Today’s Best Midwestern Small Town, Outside Magazine’s The 16 Best Places to Live in the U.S. 2016, and Budget Travel’s 2015 Coolest Small Town in America. Rekindle your sense of adventure by exploring the Superior National Forest or paddling through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Discover what makes the communities of Cook County, Minn. “Naturally Unforgettable.” Connect on social media using #donorthmn, Twitter @CookCoVisitors, Facebook, or Instagram @donorthmn. Learn more at www.visitcookcounty.com.