VAIL GOBBLES UP ANOTHER SKI RESORT
The huge ski resort operator that made massive headlines when it purchased North America's largest and best ski resort, Whistler Blackcomb, back in August of 2016, is now creeping their way east. Vail Resorts announced on Tuesday February 21, their purchase of Stowe ski resort in Vermont.
Most recently owned by AIG Global Real Estate, Stowe is one of oldest and best established major American ski resorts. AIG has spent several years extensively redeveloping the mountain’s base area into a user-friendly pedestrianized village similar in feel to those at Whistler, Beaver Creek and Northstar. It has a luxury ski-in/out hotel, a golf course, ice skating rink, performing arts center, and new stores, restaurants and public art.
One key addition was a new gondola, which for the first time connects Stowe’s two separate mountains. The bigger; Mt. Mansfield, is famed for its daunting set of expert runs, the infamous “Front Four”. The smaller; Spruce Peak, is a beginner friendly mountain that’s one of the best places to learn the sport.
The latest wave of improvements included a new quad lift on Spruce Peak, the Spruce Peak Adventure Center, the new Shops at Spruce Peak, and the installation of RFID ticket readers to make boarding lifts faster and easier across both mountains.
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What $50 million gets you in Stowe
The $50 million acquisition deal gives Vail Resorts all of the assets related to the mountain operations of the resort, including base area skier services (food and beverage, retail and rental, and ski and snowboard school). The purchase does not include other facilities such as the Stowe Mountain Lodge and Stowe Country Club.
“We’re thrilled to add Stowe Mountain Resort to our family of world-class mountain resorts. With the investments in both mountain infrastructure and base area facilities that AIG has made over the years, Stowe Mountain Resort has become the premier, high-end resort for East Coast skiers and snowboarders. We look forward to working with AIG to continue enhancing the guest experience and to ensure the resort’s long-term success,” - Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts
Vail Resorts has announced that it will move quickly to bring Stowe into the Vail fold, with the resort being included in the growingly popular Epic Pass multi-resort season pass for the next (2017-18) ski season. (If fact it's already listed on the Epic Pass website.)
When Vail Takes Over a Resort
If history is any sort of indicator, when Vail Resorts takes over a new mountain we can generally see the cost of a number of things go up. This includes the price of single day lift tickets, which are already quite expensive at Stowe.
However, the exciting thing for avid skiers is that the cost of the Epic Pass is generally much lower than what season passes were previously. Plus, the Epic pass gives you access to all of Vail Resort's properties, not just your local home hill, and include a lot of additional perks as well. This can make it much more affordable for the locals of a ski resort, with the Epic Pass being priced around the equivalent of 6-7 full rate single day lift tickets.
This affordability results in a couple of things; more locals buying it, and visiting more often, and more out-of-town travelers visiting a resort since it's already included in their own pass. Generally this means that resorts get a lot busier, which means the operator can make more off of everything else around ski operations as well.
This coupled with some diversification in weather patterns in the east, are no doubt the strategic plan behind Vail's move into Vermont.
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Cover Photo: Stowe Mountain Resort