The writing was on the wall when Vail Resorts forked over $41 million for Stowe in 2016. We here in the not-a-single-stop-light Mad River Valley felt the tremor and when Sugarbush owner Winthrop Smith, formerly of Merril Lynch Pierce Fenner and Smith started talking about industry take overs and hopping planes out west... The news of the sale of Sugarbush to Alterra Mountain Company, pending regulatory approval, in January of 2020, has broken.
Epic, really. The excitement was born when the Epic Pass began back in 1992, taking real flight in 2012 and expanding the resorts list agressively forward including Vail Resorts 2016 purchase of Stowe.
Sugarbush will be part of this formidable ski area collective across the planet, bringing an infusion of new blood from far and wide, reinvigorating our tiny little corner of paradise and introducing this magical place.
Brush up on your international languages and bring your google translate on the lift. Here comes some serious fun which will lead to all kinds of adventure and international exchange that will boost area property values and raise the bar for what our provincial localvore culture is called on to serve up. Gone will be mundane menus limited to hamburgers and french fries. Bring on the poutine, confit du canard, unagi and kangaroo steaks. Internationalization, one planet, one love. Today the Ikon pass includes over 40 destinations from California to Chile, Europe, Australia, New Zealnd, and Japan, the one upmanship yielding so much treasure. Niseko, part of the Ikon pass, is even closer to my heart as I lived in Hokkaido for nearly ten years. Sapporo is a wonderful city to visit and a spring board to the island's stunning hot springs. The Epic pass recently added the 10 Hakuba Valley resorts into its fold.
But Vail Resorts, as anyone who's skied the back bowls at Vail, is a heavy hitter. Having gone to school in Boulder in the early 80's, Vail was mind blowing. They've expanded since the early 60's when Pete Seibert and Earl Eaton, Aspen ski guides, founded the mountain, with Vail going public in 1997 before the Gillet Holdings bankruptcy and when Leon Black of Apollo Managment took over. 37 ski resorts in the US, Canada and Australia including Vermont resorts Mount Snow, Okemo and Stowe. Here's the comprehensive Wikipedia lineup:
|Location||Date opened||Date acquired||Notes||Citations|
|Vail Ski Resort||Eagle County, Colorado||1962||N/A||The third-largest ski resort in the United States.|
|Beaver Creek Resort||Near Avon, Colorado||1980-81||N/A|
|Breckenridge Ski Resort||Breckenridge, Colorado||December 16, 1961||1996|||
|Keystone Resort||Keystone, Colorado||November 21, 1970||1996|
|Heavenly Mountain Resort||Lake Tahoe||December 15, 1955||2002|
|Northstar California||Placer County, California||December 1972||October 25, 2010|||
|Kirkwood Mountain Resort||Kirkwood, California||February 22, 2012|||
|Afton Alps||Denmark Township, Washington County, Minnesota||December 6, 2012|||
|Mount Brighton||Brighton, Michigan||1960||December 6, 2012|||
|Canyons Resort||Park City, Utah||1968||May 29, 2013||Acquired on a 50-year lease.|||
|Park City Mountain Resort||Park City, Utah||December 21, 1963||September 11, 2014||In 2015, Vail merged the Park City and Canyons resorts under the Park City Mountain Resort name, connecting them with a gondola.|||
|Perisher Ski Resort||Perisher Valley, Australia||1951||March 30, 2015.||Vail's first Australian property.|
|Wilmot Mountain||Kenosha County, Wisconsin||1938||January 19, 2016|
|Whistler Blackcomb||Whistler, British Columbia, Canada||January 1966||August 8, 2016||Purchased 75% interest in Whistler & Blackcomb Partnerships (balance owned by Nippon Cable)|
|Stowe Mountain Resort||Stowe, Vermont||1933||February 21, 2017||Vail's first resort on the East Coast of the United States.|||
|Mount Sunapee Resort||Newbury, New Hampshire||September 27, 2018||Owned by State of NH but operated alongside Okemo, first resort in New Hampshire to be operated by Vail|||
|Okemo Mountain Resort||Ludlow, Vermont||September 27, 2018||Purchased alongside Mount Sunapee.|
|Crested Butte Mountain Resort||Crested Butte, Colorado||September 27, 2018||Purchased with Mt. Sunapee, Stevens Pass, and Okemo.|||
|Stevens Pass||Stevens Pass, Washington||June 4, 2018||Purchased alongside Mount Sunapee, and Okemo.|
|Falls Creek||Bogong High Plains, Victoria, Australia||1946||February 22, 2019.||Bought from Merlin Entertainments along with Hotham.|
|Hotham Alpine Resort||Mount Hotham, Victoria, Australia||1925||February 22, 2019.||Bought from Merlin Entertainments along with Falls Creek.|
|Mount Snow||Dover, Vermont||1954||September 24, 2019.||Bought from Peak Resorts along with 16 other mountains.|
|Hunter Mountain||Hunter, New York||September 24, 2019.||Bought from Peak Resorts along with 16 other mountains.|
|Attitash Mountain||New Hampshire||September 24, 2019.||Bought from Peak Resorts along with 16 other mountains.|
|Crotched Mountain||New Hampshire||September 24, 2019.||Bought from Peak Resorts along with 16 other mountains.|
|Wildcat Mountain Ski Area||New Hampshire||1933||September 24, 2019.||Wildcat trail cut by CCC in 1933. Original gondola started operation in 1958. Peak Resorts acquired Wildcat in 2010.|
|Liberty Mountain Resort||Carroll Valley, Pennsylvania||1960||September 24, 2019.||Bought from Peak Resorts along with 16 other mountains.|
|Roundtop Mountain Resort||Pennsylvania||1964||September 24, 2019.||Bought from Peak Resorts along with 16 other mountains.|
|Whitetail Resort||Pennsylvania||September 24, 2019.||Bought from Peak Resorts along with 16 other mountains.|
|Jack Frost||Pennsylvania||September 24, 2019.||Bought from Peak Resorts along with 16 other mountains.|
|Big Boulder||Pennsylvania||September 24, 2019.||Bought from Peak Resorts along with 16 other mountains.|
|Alpine Valley||Ohio||September 24, 2019.||Bought from Peak Resorts along with 16 other mountains.|
|Boston Mills||Ohio||September 24, 2019.||Bought from Peak Resorts along with 16 other mountains.|
|Brandywine||Ohio||September 24, 2019.||Bought from Peak Resorts along with 16 other mountains.|
|Mad River Mountain||Ohio||September 24, 2019.||Bought from Peak Resorts along with 16 other mountains.|
|Hidden Valley||Missouri||September 24, 2019.||Bought from Peak Resorts along with 16 other mountains.|
|Snow Creek||Weston, Missouri||1986||September 24, 2019.||Bought from Peak Resorts along with 16 other mountains.|
|Paoli Peaks||Paoli Township, Indiana||September 24, 2019.||Bought from Peak Resorts along with 16 other mountains.|
Alterra, also headquartered in Colorado (Rocky Mountain High), is backed by the Crown Family, among America's wealthiest families worth, according to Forbes, $8.8 billion, The Crown Family owns Aspen Skiing Company and, with very deep pockets, puts a lot of muscle into Alterra. 94 year old Lester Crown is founder Henry Crown's son. From a humble start in building supplies provision including (are you listening local excavators?) sand and gravel. Henry and his brothers learned early on on how to leverage borrowed money, evenutally taking control of General Dynamics.
Kate Tracy wrote this put a smile on your face 5280 Mile High Magazine expose on how the ski conglomerate war is tearing her love live apart. Who would have ever thought?
Hey. This is serious. Territorial competition has fallout. Deborah London, in a November 9 tweet:
"EPIC SKI PASS TRYING TO STEAL $699 from me. They want to renew my pass automatically but they removed Arapahoe basin from the pass and never notified me-hmmm, I don’t know anybody that likes to pay for something that they’re not getting, do you?
I used to ski Arapahoe Basin, or A Basin (this year added to the Ikon Pass in a shrewd chess move) while a student in Boulder and adored it. There was this massive cornice to drop off, the closest I'd ever come to being an eagle.
What a coup for Ikon. What a coup for Sugarbush. What a coup for Win Smith, on top of the Mountain Collective pass option, another great ski the world vehicle providing two days each at plus 50% off additional days at Alta, Aspen Snowmass, Arapahoe Basin, Banff Sunshine, Big Sky, Coronet Peak/The Remarkables, Jackson Hole, Lake Louise, Mammoth Mountain, Mt. Buller, Niseko United (Japan), Revelstoke, Snowbird, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Sugarbush, Taos, Thredbo, and Valle Nevado (Chile). Global Affiliate resorts include Chamonix (France). It gets better and better.
What do you know about this pending acquisition and what are you thinking about it? Post your comments and let us know.
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