Burke resort cuts ties with mountain biking trails network

A disagreement over fee-sharing has halted a three-year relationship between Q Burke Mountain ski resort and a local mountain biking trail network.

The resort and the nonprofit Kingdom Trails had partnered since 2010 to provide chairlift access to summer mountain bike trails.

The program was an extension of Kingdom Trails’ award-winning, multi-use trail system that established East Burke as a year-round destination for outdoor recreation. It’s a brand identity Q Burke is incorporating into its own business plans.

Q Burke CEO Ary Quiros plans to operate the ski resort's summer mountain bike paths independent of local nonprofit Kingdom Trails. Photo by Hilary Niles/VTDigger.

Q Burke CEO Ary Quiros plans to operate the ski resort’s summer mountain bike paths independent of local nonprofit Kingdom Trails. Photo by Hilary Niles/VTDigger.

Q Burke CEO Ary Quiros intends to continue operations independently in June 2014, when the slopes would normally reopen to bikes.

Kingdom Trails will continue to operate its network of biking, cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails in and around East Burke. Executive director Tim Tierney said he’s “forever hopeful” the organization will return to the mountain to help manage and build out the bike park.

“If he doesn’t see our strength, we don’t know how we can convince him otherwise,” Tierney said. “And if not, it will just be the new reality.”

The dispute between the former partners surfaced when Quiros, who took over Q Burke management in January, revisited the Kingdom Trails contract as part of his broader housekeeping efforts at the struggling resort.

The arrangement through summer 2013 had been negotiated with prior Burke Mountain manager Tim McGuire, who stepped down in August. According to the Kingdom Trails website, McGuire holds a seat on the organization’s board of directors.

In the partnership, Q Burke handled monetary transactions on behalf of the resort and Kingdom Trails: Q Burke collected $20 for the chairlift and $15 for a “day membership” to Kingdom Trails. No daily trail fee was charged to those with annual Kingdom Trails membership.

Tierney said the trail fee is charged for access to any of the organization’s trail networks, and helps cover Kingdom Trail’s expenses for maintenance, management and insurance.

Quiros originally refused to pay roughly $20,000 to the organization according to the contract, which he said he had not been aware of at the time it was signed. He later agreed to the payment but canceled the partnership going forward.

Quiros said $20 was not enough to cover the resort’s costs of operating the chairlift and participating in the program.

“They told us to just suck it up,” Quiros said. “But if they want to be on the mountain, they should charge $15 on top of the $35.”

He acknowledged, however, that such a price point would put Q Burke out of a market that offers cheaper options nearby.

“At the end of the day, they’re the landowner,” Tierney said.

Kingdom Trails describes its entire network as being built on the generosity of private property owners willing to share access to their land. For that reason, Tierney said, Kingdom Trails can’t afford to set a precedent of allowing a landowner to charge a commission on its membership fees.

“We knew all along how unique it was — a for-profit resort dealing with a nonprofit,” Tierney said.

He underscored that as long as people continue to travel to East Burke for recreation, his organization’s mission will succeed.

“We just want to keep it seamless for people who come here and think of it as Kingdom Trails,” Tierney said.

Quiros said he would return to the negotiating table with Kingdom Trails under the right circumstances.

“I will work with anybody and everybody in the community when they’re fair,” Quiros said.

He added that he would like to co-market with Kingdom Trails, and that he’d consider waiving rental fees if the organization wants to hold events on the mountain.

Hilary Niles

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21 Comments on "Burke resort cuts ties with mountain biking trails network"

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Bob Taylor
2 years 6 months ago
Ms. Niles, during your investigation for this story, I’m curious, did you determine who paid for the buildout and operation of the lift-served trails? These are not your average mountain bike trails. They involved earth moving equipment, stunt and heavy-duty bridge construction, and manual labor beyond that used to build and maintain the other trails in the network. There was significant capital investment. Whose capital was that? Additionally there was full time staffing by lift attendants, a network of first responders due to the inevitable crashes, and ongoing maintenance to the stunts. Every rain storm must have required staff with… Read more »
Steve Joyce
2 years 6 months ago

Not to mention, the whle Bell Helmets grant of a trail built on their dime by KT rallying enough nationwide support to win the contest vs. a number of other trail networks in the US. That trail was then built as part of the bike park………100% driven by KT and KT supporters. I didn’t see any Q support or Q management with shovels on that one…….I’m guessing building that trail out would have cost greater than the infamous $20K Q jr owed KTA per their contract.

Ary, you listening? Time to rally your marquetting team and rethinq this……

Kevin Callahan
2 years 6 months ago
All trails on the mountain were built by KTA; costs for those were born by KTA, and the labor was provided by KTA trail crews. I’m not aware that Burke Mountain has or had their own bike patrol unit; KTA has a full time patrol that responds to medical and mechanical issues, as well as answering questions and being front-line ambassadors. Gravity flow trails of this nature cost around $20-$30K to design and install; most of that is excavator hours. While I don’t know any of the details or numbers surrounding this, as an active trail builder and MTB advocate… Read more »
2 years 6 months ago
It looks like the senior Queros has sent his son to Burke to end Burke Mountain once and for all. As we watch him work, he seems to be intentionally alienating Burke from the surrounding community. Every decision that he has made, from the new logo, to the relationship with Kingdom Trails, to forcing the CircumBurke race to be held elsewhere, seems to be driven by something other than wanting Burke to succeed. Either he is not very good at what he does, or he is intentionally doing damage. If it is the later, he is very good at what… Read more »
Sherry Noyes
2 years 6 months ago

I believe the intent from the beginning has been to have Burke Mt. fail so everyone would have to go to Jay & it would succeed. Jay continues to build(climbing walls & theater etc) but no groundbreakings at Burke. Hopefully they will take their Qbear and go back, maybe to QJay!

Phyllis North
2 years 6 months ago

Not hearing good things about the management of Burke by the younger Mr. Quiros. It was nice of his dad to give him a job, though. I wonder what Bill Stanger thinks about how things are going at Burke.

Cathi Feeley
2 years 6 months ago

Is Ary short for Arrogant?

Why not just rename the Mountain
“Quiros’s Burke Mountain Resort” and get it over with. I love the way the family is working with the locals and putting money in the local economy.

Sherry Stahler
2 years 6 months ago

It is a sad day indeed for our beautiful corner of the kingdom when something such as this happens. As Vermonters, our uniqueness comes from trusting, sharing and working TOGETHER. Kingdom Trails has done more for East Burke and the surrounding area than Q-Burke will ever do.

Diane James
2 years 6 months ago

Yes to see local employees lose their jobs at Burke.. Sad! maybe it was because they didn’t have green cards?

Bill Gardyne
2 years 6 months ago
Burke Mountain is a private business that has bankrupted its last several owners spanning several decades. Obviously, it needs new ideas and revenue sources to become viable and hopefully move beyond a seasonal ski mountain. Change comes hard for many people, me included. However, I think the locals and the armchair internet business experts need to give the Q’s a chance to make a difference, try new things and hopefully becomes successful at Burke Mountain. If they hadn’t came along and bought it where do think Burke would have ended up in couple more years of non-investment and deferred maintenance….liquidation… Read more »
Rita Pitkin
2 years 6 months ago

A shining example of the much-touted economic development project(s) in the NEK brought here by Stegner, Quiros, etc. and the EB5 program. I hope this will be the last of the lack of support for what the NEK already does We really don’t need the bulldozer mentality.

Dan Flanagan
2 years 6 months ago

One more reminder that resort owners come and go . There always be another sucker that thinks they can polish that turd of a mountain differently than the last owner. Thankfully the success of Kingdom Trails never has and never will depend on the success of the Mountain.

Vivian Buckley
2 years 6 months ago
Why is KT not operating nordic at Dashney ? Because Q wants a cut of that. What does it cost Q for KT to pay KT employees, use KT equipment, and enlist KT employees and volunteers to maintain the trails? Sure Q pays taxes on the land, but so does every one of the over 55 landowners who participate in KT to support the mission to “provide recreation and education opportunities for local residents and visitors while working to conserve natural resources and create economic stimulation.” Thank goodness the folks on Darling Hill know a good thing when they see… Read more »
Steve Joyce
2 years 6 months ago
Well said. For years we have enjoyed the nordic at Dashney, supported the Tamarack after every visit to see Roger et al for lunch and drinks, and now I would rather support the locals we know in town vs. Q. KTA and their unique and respctful model has put some econmic life back into the NEK without the bulk of the unwanted development etc. KTA and the visitors they bring have made Burke even remotely attractive to be purchased in the first place. Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth. While the decisions made by Q might make… Read more »
Dustin Miller
2 years 6 months ago

Another power hungry kid whose absent-minded father let go of the leash. This is a huge disappointment, and I hope the flood of negative press for Mr. Quiros Jr. reaches a Facebook fever pitch like all of the other irritating injustices in the bike world lately.

Michael Stahler
2 years 6 months ago
I’m a lifelong Burkie. I’ve seen the good and the bad. When I heard that “Jay Peak” was buying Burke last year, I was so excited because Bill Stenger has done so much good and is a leader in the industry. He was on WCAX talking about what they were going to do and he was onsite. And then slowly reality set in for me. I watched some very good managers fired for money. Some of those folks have been in the industry about as long as you can be. And then I saw my mountain “renamed” “Q-Burke” as a… Read more »
Andy Howard
2 years 6 months ago
Well put Michael. I also grew up in the area and share your sentiments exactly. I think there are a lot of us in “the middle” who had high hopes and were willing to give the new guy the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately allowing the relationship with KT to sour is wrong in so many ways that I can’t help to question his judgment and leadership ability. I fear that he is not only sullying his family’s reputation, but also that of any new developer who wants to come to the NEK and get the benefit of the doubt.
Jerry Webber
2 years 6 months ago
As a longtime patron and supporter of BURKE Mountain Ski area. Despite the ups and downs of the businesses that have come and gone, BURKE Mountain is a wonderful beautiful place for all seasons. With the introduction of Mssrs. Queros and Stenger, a great number of BURKE Mountain patrons, along with the broader local communities, immediately became appreciative and supported the notion that BURKE Mountain is in good hands. As with any business, change is inevitable for growth, finances, and improvements. Unfortunately what is becoming a troubling trend is the types of changes. From the moment BURKE Mountain became “QBurke”,… Read more »
Ian Dowling
2 years 6 months ago
Follow -up story with Lt. Q. Hulka: Reporter: Shall I address you as Q., or Lt. Hulka? Lt. Hulka: You may address me as ‘Sir’. Reporter: Sir, will you still allow use of the KTA cross country mtb trails that are on Q. Burke property? Lt. Hulka: No Reporter: How will you prevent riders from using already established and world famous trails? Lt. Hulka: We are currently in the process of building a 200 ft wall around the entire Q. Burke property. There will be several entry points, and each will be protected by 1000 armed guards. Reporter: How will… Read more »
Ian Dowling
2 years 6 months ago
Cont interview with Lt. Q. Hulka Reporter: Sir, the hospitality industry is based on fun and happiness. It appears that your business model removes those elements from Burke Mt. Lt. Q. Hulka: Here are Q. Burke we don’t like to use those terms. We are laser focused on discipline and order. Reporter: But won’t that reduce the attractiveness of Burke to good people with lots of money to spend? Lt. Q. Hulka: Yes, probably. Reporter: Then how will you make any money and continue with the expansion plans that you have? Lt Q. Hulka: We probably won’t make any money… Read more »
2 years 1 month ago

Some interesting news. The management at the mountain has gained national notoriety for their lack of marketing expertise.

http://www.saminfo.com/article/bestworst-marketing-2013-14

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