On Monday, Aspen Skiing Company and KSL Capital Partners, shake up the ski industry with a deal to buy Intrawest Resorts for $1.5 Billion including debt. The deal includes Steamboat and Winter Park in Colorado, Showshoe in West Virginia and Stratton in Vermont, along with Canada’s Mont Tremblant, Blue Mountain and Canadian Mountain Holidays, the world’s largest heli-skiing operator based in Banff, Alberta.
It’s a big move for Aspen, which currently operates four resorts in the Roaring Fork Valley; Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass. The two companies will form a new entity to run the Intrawest resorts. Aspen’s previous holdings will continue to be manage exclusively by Aspen. According to the press release, there will not be any changes to the 2017-2018 Mountain Collective Pass, which includes Aspen and Squaw or the M.A.X. pass which includes Intrawest resorts. But look for a new pass to come out as ski areas view season passes that allow skiing at multiple resorts as a vital business strategy.
Vail Resorts is suddenly facing some new competition in an escalating battle of consolidation. In the past year, Vail Resorts has spent $1.1 billion for three-quarters of Canada’s Whistler Blackcomb ski area and $50 million for Vermont’s Stowe in an aggressive expansion plan. The company expects to spend $103 million this year upgrading it’s resorts. At Vail Mountain, Vail Resorts will replace the Northwoods Express with a six-person high speed chairlift. At Breckenridge, the Peak 10 Falcon Chair will be upgraded with a six-person high speed chair. At Keystone, the Montezuma chair will be replaced with a six-person high speed chair and at Beaver Creek, the two-person Drink of Water chair will be replaced with a four person high speed chair.
Vail Resorts also plans to invest $6 million this year 2017 for the Epic Discovery summer activities with the bulk of that being spent at Breckenridge with more modest spending at Vail and Heavenly to expand existing facilities.
Combined skier numbers for Aspen’s four mountains has remained steady around 1.5 million for a few years. Vail Mountain welcomed 1.6 million skiers in 2015-2016 with Beaver Creek coming in with 919,000 skiers.