Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Remains Locally Owned As Sale Closes

After 32 years of building Jackson Hole Mountain Resort into a Wyoming showplace, Jay, Connie and Betty Kemmerer have sold it to a pair of Jackson Hole insiders, to assure it remains locally owned and independent.

Renée Jean

February 05, 20245 min read

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. (Renée Jean, Cowboy State Daily)

Gigantic multinational conglomerates have been buying up U.S. ski resorts for years now, but Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has just made good on a pledge to buck that trend and keep its resort local and independent, at least for the foreseeable future.

JHMR has just announced it’s closed the sale of the resort for an undisclosed price to Teton County locals and JHMR board members Eric Macy and Mike Corbat.

Jay, Connie, and Betty Kemmerer, the resort’s owners for going on 32 years, announced the sale last year, and had said then the deal was expected to close by the end 2023.

Both Macy and Corbat have been involved in decision-making at the resort for quite some time and have said previously they don’t expect to make any drastic changes to the way JHMR operates.

Cowboy State Daily has requested further details on Macy’s and Corbat’s plans for the future, but had not received a response on that as of the posting of this story.

Macy has been a board member for nine years and has extensive experience in institutional finance and corporate operations, while Corbat has been on the board for three years, joining after retiring as CEO of Citigroup in 2021.

In a comment to Bloomberg last year just after the sale was announced, Macy said he and Corbat are both committed to a “multigenerational investment in JHMR.”

“That means the company will not be sold, and it will continue on as an independent, family-owned and operated business, which will be passed down to our children and their families,” he said.

Building A Legend

With half of its terrain rated expert and 40% intermediary, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is well-known among today’s skiing enthusiasts. It offers lots of steep and challenging terrain, including Rendezvous Mountain’s bowls, glades and chutes, and then there’s the infamous Corbet’s Couloir.

Widely considered North America’s most challenging ski run — if not the world’s — it’s a steep, narrow chute that starts with a 30-foot vertical drop straight down the mountain side.

Skiers either launch themselves straight into the couloir or try to slide into it from a very steep entrance that has an abrupt turn at the bottom — one that must be taken at speed.

Falling in Corbet’s Couloir, meanwhile, can have drastic consequences. It’s a terrible and long slide down the couloir if a skier loses control, with sharp, bone-busting rocks along the way.

But even with these kinds of world-class assets and challenges, it took the Kemmerer family three decades and $300 million in investments to make JHMR the popular resort it is today.

Prior to the Kemmerers, JHMR was a tough sell for tourists. Hardcore skiers loved it because it was such a wild Wyoming experience. But there aren’t enough hardcore skiers to make a ski resort economically feasible.

Changes had to be made to broaden the ski resort’s appeal to more guests. Among the first of these improvements was to upgrade the Thunder Chair, taking it from a double to a quad.

Then came upgrades to the Teewinot beginner lift and the Aprés Vous chairlift, making them high-speed quads as well. That increased the mountain’s capacity to 2,000 skiers per hour.

New intermediate trails were opened in the latter part of the 1990s, along with the Bridger Gondola and Bridger Center, and then in 1999, a new backcountry gate system opened up thousands of acres of backcountry skiing.

Economic Boost To Region

JHMR’s upward trajectory had ripple effects on the Jackson Hole economy, bringing along lots of new hotels and motels, including the Snake River Lodge & Spa, the Four Seasons, Teton Mountain Lodge, and many others.

The upward spiral kept going in 2006 with an ever bigger, faster aerial tram, as well as the stunning Rendezvous Restaurant at the summit of the Bridger Gondola.

The restaurant offers an upscale menu, with views to match. It’s known as a great place for skiers and snowboarders to chill out with a view of the Rendezvous Mountain summit, as well as Corbet’s Couloir.

Recession didn’t stop the forward progress at JHMR. The Kemmerers invested $31 million in a new and improved tram in 2008. It could carry 100 passengers, rising 4,139 vertical feet in just 9 minutes. That made it not only fast, but the longest continuous vertical elevation of any lift in North America at the time.

The investment paid off in a big way, bringing upward of 480,000 skiers amidst 600 inches of snowfall.

More new lifts were added after that, including the Marmot, Casper, Teton and Sweetwater Gondolas.

Kemmerer has said he plans to still be involved in JHMR as part of the new ownership group and as a board and executive committee member.

Corbat and Macy, meanwhile, have promised to continue the trajectory started by the Kemmerers in media statements.

“Jackson Hole Mountain Resorts legendary runs, couloirs, and iconic features have provided the quintessential ski mountain experience for decades,” Corbat said. “Coupled with an enthusiastic skier base and a dedicated community, JHMR defines what it means to be a best-in-class ski resort.

“We will work hard to preserve the cherished aspects of the ski mountain and continue building on the mountain’s storied tradition. We are excited to partner with the mountain’s exceptional team to continue developing JHMR’s best-in-class guest experience and unique brand.”

Macy echoed his partner’s words, saying, “It is our privilege to continue cultivating an authentic resort experience that is treasured by locals and visitors, alike. We look forward to many amazing winter and summer seasons to come.”

Jay Kemmerer owned Jackson Hole Mountain Resort for 32 years. He said he'll remain involved after selling the resort to a pair of Jackson Hole locals.
Jay Kemmerer owned Jackson Hole Mountain Resort for 32 years. He said he'll remain involved after selling the resort to a pair of Jackson Hole locals. (Courtesy Photo)

Renée Jean can be reached at renee@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Renée Jean

Business and Tourism Reporter