Vail Resorts just keeps getting bigger and bigger. How many ski resorts can one company own? A big baker's dozen – how about 19? The latest: Vail bought Okemo and Mount Sunapee in the North East, after buying Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont for $50 million the season prior – now there are three Eastern ski resorts on Vail's Epic Pass. Vail also added Crested Butte in Colorado and Stevens Pass in Washington to the mountain conglomerate in 2018. This is after Vail bought Canadian mega-resort Whistler Blackcomb for $1.1 billion October 2016. Is there any border or boundaries, or bottom to their bankroll, for this big dog of the ski biz? Vail now owns 19 ski resorts, 50% of the 10 busiest ski areas on the continent, the big 3 being Whistler, Vail, and Breckenridge.
Here's the list that Vail now owns: the original Vail (since 1962), plus Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado; Park City (and Canyons) in Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in Lake Tahoe California; Perisher in Australia; Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin; Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan; and Whistler Blackcomb in BC, purchasing Stowe Vermont.
Vail Resorts also holds the RockResorts brand, with luxury ski lodging properties including the lovely slopeside Lodge at Vail, The Arrabelle at Vail Square, The Pines Lodge and The Osprey at Beaver Creek, One Ski Hill Place at Breckenridge, and the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. As for Vail's two latest deals – Stowe costs $50 million and Whistler was $1.1 billion. The luxurious new Spruce Village and Stowe Mountain Lodge, the Stowe Mountain Club and Golf Course are not included in the purchase, AIG will retain those cherished possessions.
Vail Epic Pass holders only got 5 days of ski privileges at Whistler for this ski season, full pass privileges next year, and Stowe Epic pass benefits are TBD in March for the 2017-18 season. We doubt it will include full Stowe privileges – likely a restriction or limitation.
Now that Vail Resorts portfolio includes East coast ski resort representation… I expect many more easterners will be buying the Epic Pass. A Stowe lift ticket is over $120 a day! Rumor has it Vail is also looking at Smugglers Notch which could interconnect to Stowe – much like Vail did with Park City and Canyons in Utah in 2016. Perhaps Vail could buy Saddleback in Maine? A new RockResort in the Rangeley Lakes region? Something grand and gorgeous that would rival Les Otten's revitalization of the nearby Balsams Resort in New Hampshire where a golf and ski resort "renaissance" has been promised. The Stowe and Whistler purchase is Vail's third in a year, they also acquired Wilmot Mountain, and bought Park City Utah in 2015.
Now, Vail's Epic Pass is even more Epic for 2017-18. Enjoy skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Wilmot, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, and Arapahoe Basin, Perisher Australia, Wilmot, Afton Alps and Mt. Brighton, Stowe and Whistler.
I am taking my Epic Pass to The Alps, for bonus free days skiing France at Val D'Isere Tignes, and Les Trois Vallees of Courchevel, Meribel and Val Thorens. I already have 15 days on my Epic Pass from skiing Vail, The Beav, Breck and Keystone, and Park City. I call it EPIC alpine amortization! See you on the slopes…and stay tuned for Stowe ski news.