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Bill Jensen officially takes over at Intrawest

Bill Jensen, the former president of Vail Resorts’ Mountain Division, officially took over this week as chief executive officer of Whistler-Blackcomb’s parent company, Intrawest.

Bill Jensen, the former president of Vail Resorts’ Mountain Division, officially took over this week as chief executive officer of Whistler-Blackcomb’s parent company, Intrawest.

Jensen “is responsible for the long-term vision of Intrawest and will oversee the day-to-day management and operations of each of the company’s resort properties. In addition, he will be responsible for strategic planning and the strategy to broaden Intrawest’s leadership in the experiential destination resort market and best position the company to take advantage of new growth opportunities.”

Whistler-Blackcomb President and COO Dave Brownlie said Intrawest’s corporate structure remains the same but Jensen is now the man in charge of all Intrawest businesses.

“He comes from the resort side of the business,” Brownlie said.

“He’s aware of the challenges facing the resort business but he’s been around this business for a long time and he’s been very successful.”

Jensen’s appointment was announced in January.

Prior to joining Vail Resorts in 1997 Jensen was president of Fibreboard Resort Group where he oversaw management of three California ski resorts, Northstar at Tahoe, Sierra at Tahoe and Bear Mountain, from 1991 to 1997.

Jensen succeeds Alex Wasilov, a former director of the board, who served as CEO over the last two years and will return to serve as a member of the Intrawest board of directors to focus on long term vision and strategy for the company.

In addition to Jensen’s appointment this week, Intrawest announced the appointment of Brian Collins to the position of president of Intrawest. Collins, a real estate industry veteran, is responsible for all of Intrawest’s global real estate operations and will report directly to Jensen.

A release states: “Collins will work directly with the President and Chief Operating Officer at each of Intrawest's destination resorts to develop the resort's master plan. Over time it is expected that Collins' responsibilities will increase as he becomes involved in other areas of the Company.”

Collins was most recently the principal and founder of Colgate Development LLC and before that he was a principal and COO at Millennium Partners, where he led the development, design, sales and marketing of numerous marquee projects.

Jensen will be based at Intrawest’s head office in Vancouver, which Brownlie said may allow Whistler-Blackcomb to get more of his attention. He wants to get the new CEO up to speed on Whistler-Blackcomb and let him know about the challenges facing the company and the community.

“Intrawest is really going back to its roots in a lot of ways,” focusing on the resorts, said Brownlie, who has met Jensen many times over the years.

Wes Edens, CEO of Intrawest’s parent company, Fortress Investment Group LLC, said in a release: “Now is the time for the next phase of growth and we are delighted to have two world-class executives of the calibre of Bill Jensen and Brian Collins to lead the Company into the future.”

Brownlie said the “next phase of growth” means “investing in our current properties and in new opportunities out there. There are opportunities… we need the business plan and the investments to (make them happen).”

Brownlie cited the Peak to Peak gondola as one such opportunity.

“I think there are many more of those opportunities, including the traditional opportunities. If we can attract more people we can build more conventional lifts and restaurants.”

Brownlie added that Intrawest has become a much more focused and more organized company in the last few years.

“That’s good for the community, and that’s positive,” he said.

“This is a continuation, a validation of the business we’re in.”