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News Vail Resorts, Inc. closes deal on purchase of 17 new resorts

Discussion in 'United States' started by POW_hungry, Sep 26, 2019.

  1. POW_hungry

    POW_hungry Part of the Furniture Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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  2. absentskier

    absentskier Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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  3. POW_hungry

    POW_hungry Part of the Furniture Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    No. Of course not.
    But for those here, it opens up more options.
     
  4. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    I wonder what this means for their three Australian resorts? Possibly as little investment here as possible because they will be repatriating all the cash they can to America to pay for this huge purchase?
     
  5. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I don't think it will make difference for the budget set aside for Australia, or any other region for that matter. The purchase of W-B was a much bigger deal financially.

    July 2019
    http://investors.vailresorts.com/ne...ts-acquire-peak-resorts-owner-17-us-ski-areas
    " . . .
    The aggregate purchase price for all Peak Resorts common stock is estimated to be approximately $264 million (calculated on a treasury method basis), which Vail Resorts intends to finance through a combination of cash on hand, its existing revolver facility and an expansion of its existing credit facility. In addition, Vail Resorts will be assuming or refinancing Peak Resorts' outstanding debt.
    . . ."

    Unlike VR's first purchase of small ski areas in the flatlands, the total investment planned in the near future is pretty low. Only US$15 million across all 17 locations that Peak Resorts had developed or purchased in the last few decades. Plus another US$10 million for normal capital projects.

    Sept 2019
    http://investors.vailresorts.com/ne...s-its-acquisition-peak-resorts-adds-17-us-ski

    In 2012, VR bought two small family-owned ski areas in the midwest. Afton Alps (near Minn./St. Paul) and Mount Brighton (near Detroit, Ann Arbor) each got about US$10 million for major projects like new lifts, snowmaking infrastructure, and/or lodge renovations. A few years later, Wilmot (near Chicago) got US$13 million for major improvements. Peak Resorts has been spending plenty of money on their home ski areas in the midwest and two recent acquisitions in the northeast (Hunter, Mt. Snow). Peak bought the three ski areas (Whitetail, Liberty, Roundtop) near Washington DC in 2018 from a local owner who had spent enough money on snowmaking and lifts for those to be in good shape.

    I've skied at Whitetail, Roundtop, and Hunter. Have friends in DC who do the multi-week lesson program at Liberty. Been following this story for a while.

    Of the 17 Peak locations, only Hunter and Mt. Snow could be called medium-size resorts. Still pretty small in comparison to any VR resort in the Rockies or Tahoe. Easiest way to see the locations if you like maps is to check the Season Pass option for Epic on OpenSnow. There is no reason for anyone to fly to ski at any of the former Peak locations. For that matter, anyone who has another reason to be in NYC or Boston has other choices if really want to do a day trip. As for the three areas near DC, not worth the drive with all the fun things there are to do in DC. They are smaller than the Australian ski areas, except perhaps Selwyn.

    https://opensnow.com/pass/epiclocal/map

     
  6. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    The goal of the "merger" with Peak Resorts is to pull in more people in big cities to the Epic pass. The cities covered include St. Louis, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Washington DC and northern Virginia, Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York City, Connecticut, and Boston. Or put another way, to keep more people from buying Ikon. Alterra owns Snowshoe in WV, which is driving distance from DC/NoVA. Ikon offers NYC or Boston folks days at Stratton, Killington/Pico, Sugarbush, Loon, Sunday River, and Sugarloaf. Those all get a lot of people driving from NYC and Boston for weekends. The Epic list for New England now has Hunter in the NY Catskills; Mt. Snow, Okemo and Stowe in Vermont; plus Sunapee, Wildcat/Attitash, and Crotched (tiny, night skiing and race leagues) in NH that are about two hours from Boston.
     
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  7. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Realized on reading more of the FAQ that the Epic Australia pass for 2019 is one of the Epic passes that gives access to the 17 former Peak locations for the 2019-20 season.

    What won't be done for the upcoming season is the integration of Peak locations for ticketing. Meaning converting over to VR's special RFID system that provides the data for EpicMix for the larger resorts. VR uses handheld scanners so don't need to install RFID gates. But still a lot of work to complete the conversion for the behind-the-scenes systems for day tickets and season passes.
     
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  8. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    It's interesting that the Vail Empire of 40 ski resorts is 90% restricted to the USA; the only exceptions are three Australian resorts and a majority stake Whistler.

    I wonder if they will ever dare to cross the pond and buy something big in Europe, or would the cultural and bureaucratic barriers be too big and scary for them?
     
  9. Jellybeans

    Jellybeans Walking on a cloud Ski Pass: Gold

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    Don’t they have a deal with some Japanese and European resorts IIRC?
     
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  10. POW_hungry

    POW_hungry Part of the Furniture Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Trying to get a European/Japanese to travel to the USA for a ski orientated vacay would be like pushing cow poo up Jungfrau Joch.
    Not to mention the French attitude!?
     
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  11. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Yes, there are Epic pass deals in Japan and Europe. In Europe, often have to stay in resort lodging to get the Epic lift ticket deal. Even for RCR in Canada, only available with Full Epic. Many Americans pay a few hundred dollars less to buy Epic Local is they don't need to ski during holiday blackout dates.

    But buying a ski area/resort and taking responsibility for operations is quite different. Especially for VR because of the importance of EpicMix, which is based on RFID UHF technology that has evolved since the first version in 2008. Integrating W-B into the VR systems was quite an effort.

    I had a good time listening to the Epic By Nature podcast that has examples of the integration process experience. I was a middle manager at a company that went from a private company with 40 people to a publicly traded company with 17,000 employees with offices in multiple countries in about six years. So some of the issues were familiar.

    https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/integrating-a-winning-team/id1443033576?i=1000444479961

    The U.S. resorts that partner with Epic, with no intention of being bought by VR, are Telluride, Sun Valley and Snowbasin. Sun Valley and Snowbasin have the same ownership. The CEO of Telluride worked for VR at a senior management level at one point in his career.

    Alterra has quite a different business model than VR. Only about half of the Ikon locations are owned and operated by Alterra. The major partners include iconic locations such as Alta, Snowbird, Jackson Hole, and all of Boyne Resorts locations including Big Sky and Brighton. Powdr is another multi-resort company willing to work with Alterra that brings in Killington in Vermont. The Big 3 in Canada around Banff are on Ikon too.
     
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  12. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Don't know about the Japanese, but VR and Alterra are actively courting the Chinese market. Lots of Chinese skiers in Tahoe from what I understand. I know Squaw has marketing videos in Chinese.

    Used to be more Brits at U.S. destination resorts. Including spring break groups of students who fly into Boston and spend a week skiing in Vermont or New Hampshire. For that matter, used to be more Canadians but with the weak Canadian dollar they are sticking to skiing in Canada these days.

    The French probably are turned off by the food offerings at American resorts. ;)
     
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  13. rowdyflat

    rowdyflat One of Us

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    Personally I think Vail buying all this stuff is a disaster for local skiers.
    It is a monopoly and they will jack up prices when skiers have no choice.
    As I stated on another occasion, they are buying small resorts to funnel those skiers to bigger US ones where they no doubt have ski shops, accommodation and real estate wrapped up.
    They are unlikely to spend much money in Australia and will prolly pull some lifts out in time.
    History tells us that some of these companies get carried away with their expansions and over extend themselves.
    One major problem and they will have difficulty with all the debt they have.
    The other says that they may lose track of finances due to the scale .
    Admittedly interest rates are at record lows and it would be hard to have a bad snow season that would effect all their assets but still.
     
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  14. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Have you talked to many skiers who are locals for a ski resort that VR has bought in the last 10 years? It's not as simple as you say. Depends a lot on the region.

    No question that the success of VR is the reason that KSL/HCC banded together to create Alterra and Ikon. There are also several N. American multi-resort and multi-regional passes or partnerships, including a new one for $199 just starting up in 2019-20.

    From what I've read, the second owner of Vail (the mountain, not the public corporation) thought real estate development was the way to go. That didn't work. He went bankrupt. The next CEO stayed 10 years and got the business back on track but didn't change much. He wasn't really a skier and is now the CEO of AMC Entertainment. Rob Katz grew up skiing in the east. He didn't plan to get into the ski industry. What Katz has done as CEO since 2006 and especially after the creation of the Epic pass in 2008, along with EpicMix, is a completely different business model. Real estate and lodging is a significant factor for VR in Colorado, but not so much in other regions. When Stowe was bought, VR didn't buy the land and luxury lodging on private land that's in the middle of Stowe resort. Alterra is using a similar business model for the resorts they own, but have taken a slightly different route with Ikon partnerships based on MCP connections.

    I spent the last few years checking out northeast skiing (daughter was at boarding school in the region). I went to destination resorts using MCP or Ikon, and little family-owned places that have been around for over 40 years. All were hit hard by the recession of 2008. Most didn't start recovering until 2011 or 2012. There has been a lot of new lifts and snowmaking infrastructure construction in the northeast since 2016. Some projects were clearly in the planning stages before VR and Alterra moved east. News reports about crowded slopes and parking lots at Epic and Ikon locations are good for the competition in the region.
     
  15. rowdyflat

    rowdyflat One of Us

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    Yeah friend now lives here was a Vancouver local for years .
    people used to go to Whistler until Fraser Valley locals pass went =pissed off.
    Vancouver locals were overlooked and local ski shops suffered , now they stick to Cypress or Grouse Mountain.
    Whistler is now super expensive for people who ski < 6 x a year there.
    Australian skiers dont have much interest in NE USA resorts except to note that it is another catchment to funnel to the big ones west.
     
  16. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    The majority of investment in Japan is geared towards Chinese skiers.
    I think Vail will dip its toe in there in the future. Crazy not to. Its the future of snow sport $$$
    The ownership of japanese resorts seems pretty complex. With multiple ownerships etc... or large conglomerate type companies.
     
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  17. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    What about the EDGE Card? Whistler is one of the oddball destination resorts where you have to look at the website to find the local options that aren't some type of Epic pass.

    I imagine folks in the mid-Atlantic and U.S. northeast are hoping VR will create a variation of Epic School Kids that gives local K-G5 kids several days of free skiing. Of course, the parents have to figure out how to be on the slopes with them. The Epic Day Pass for 1-7 days is what replaced the Epic 4-Day and Epic 7-Day options.

    I never looked at Epic before this summer. Much prefer the MCP/Ikon destination resorts any way. The number of options that VR provides is very complicated in some regions.

     
  18. rowdyflat

    rowdyflat One of Us

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    Vail day ticket seniors discount is $10= $159 US on line or $199 at the box.
    Thats really generous.
     
  19. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    The 4th Quarter report for VR came out yesterday. Clearly the Peak Resorts merger was timed to be completed before Q4 report. Too many numbers for me to be interested in reading too carefully. With all the recent acquisitions, it's hard to know what the adjusted financial numbers mean. Seems pretty clear that lodging and real estate are not a large percentage of overall revenue. Did notice that Epic Australia was mentioned.

    http://investors.vailresorts.com/ne...orts-fiscal-2019-fourth-quarter-and-full-year
    " . . .
    Regarding Epic Australia Pass sales, Katz commented, "Our Epic Australia Pass sales launched on August 15, 2019 for next season and are off to a very strong start with growth of approximately 23% in sales dollars through September 22, 2019 compared to the prior year period ended September 23, 2018, though it is important to note that it remains early in the Australian sales cycle. We are pleased with our sales results in Victoria with the addition of Hotham and Falls Creek, which together with Perisher, offer a very compelling product for our Australian guests who can ski locally at our three Australian resorts in New South Wales and Victoria, as well as experience our growing network in North America and at Rusutsu and Hakuba Valley in Japan. Pass sales will continue through the Australian off-season leading up to the 2020 season."
    . . ."
     
  20. POW_hungry

    POW_hungry Part of the Furniture Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    From Investing.com:
     
  21. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Triple Peaks had three very different ski resorts. Crested Butte in CO was probably in the worst shape financially and in terms of lifts and other infrastructure. Okemo had the most attention and should be a solid 4-season resort. Sunapee land is owned by the State of New Hampshire so what can be done is a bit more limited. An expansion plan has been moving very slowly.

    As for Stevens Pass, VR put big money into two new base lifts that will make big difference for beginners and intermediates. Replacing an old double with a high speed detachable quad. The pictures and videos of the construction are pretty detailed. VR marketing at work perhaps.

    Stevens is a day-trip ski area for people in Seattle. Gets lots of snow, so hasn't invested in snowmaking much. The nearby competition, Crystal, invested $3 million in snowmaking a few years ago. Then was sold to Alterra because deeper pockets were needed to complete the long term plans for other improvements.

    http://blog.stevenspass.com/summer-2019-construction-brooks-and-daisy-chairlifts/

     
  22. Bato

    Bato One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    This purchase just adds a few million extra epic pass customers that they aim to funnel towards the Rockies and Tahoe, they will choke their resorts eventually.
     
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  23. Bato

    Bato One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Rob Katz is on a good deal, check these options he executed then sold the next day.
     
  24. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    We appear to have had some very willing sellers in the Sackler family who may have needed the cash to cover their options due to the recent bankruptcy of their company Purdue Pharma (Oxycontin makers).

    “Purdue Pharma family profits from sale of ski resorts in regions plagued by opioid addiction”

    They appear to have had a controlling interest in the resort vehicle and netted $60 million of the $264 million Peak Resorts sale. The family needs to find the cash to contribute $3 billion to the Purdue Pharma settlement, although most of this is coming from the sale of other assets.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/busi...78c616-d979-11e9-bfb1-849887369476_story.html
     
  25. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    There was a fund related to a some members of the Sackler family called CAP1 that loaned Peak Resorts a big chunk of money so that Peak could buy a trio of ski areas near Washington DC in 2018 that was owned by a local businessman who developed them over the last few decades. The company was called Snowtime. The former owner was over 70 and ready to get out of the ski business. The connection to the Sackler family was big news in New England months before the VR purchase was announced. After the loan, CAP1 had enough special shares to control more than 50% from a voting standpoint.

    There was a suit filed by a shareholder in an attempt to stop the vote on Sept. 20 was probably related to the fact that CAP1 was going to get a lot of money out of the buy out. Obviously the meeting was held and the vote happened as scheduled.
     
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  26. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    The true test of how loyal Epic passholders are will come the year after a low snow season in N. America.

    Last season was the first for Ikon. Some locals at destination resorts on the Ikon pass blamed it for crowded parking lots and slopes. But in fact there was a much greater increase in the number of visits by local passholders than the number of Ikon passholders. It's also a fact that the metropolitan areas near many of the destination resorts on Ikon or Epic are some of the fastest growing regions in the U.S.
     
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  27. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thx for the insights - industry roll-ups are a ruthless process.
     
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  28. scullee

    scullee Resident Hobbit Moderator

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    The other thing that i haven't seen mentioned here is the money thats available through pre-payments. By booking all of those season passes and associated revenue, Vail can borrow against it or invest it elsewhere. I have heard of figures well over a billion dollars.

    There arent many other businesses in the world where a good amount of your revenue is received before you deliver your product like it does with epic passes. This gives them a lot of flexibility to move cash around and invest.
     
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  29. rowdyflat

    rowdyflat One of Us

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    Yeah I agree , its an interesting business model where you can extract money from customers now to pay for services in 2020 /2021 ie Northern Hemisphere ski tickets .
    For all concerned lets hope there are no bad ski seasons involved.
     
  30. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Snowmaking + distributed risk across multiple geographical areas plus capturing a larger percentage of a consumer’s spend via loyalty programs and reduced costs due to increased scale equals greater viability in bad times and higher returns in good times - that’s the logic of the business model.

    Plus current low costs of capital (low interest rates compared to cash flows and asset values) and favourable exchange rates (Oz purchase) and reduced purchase price (17 new resorts with a willing vendor) and a hungry stock market all mean Vail are currently in the money...
     
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  31. absentskier

    absentskier Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    There will always be bad seasons. Everybody who buys a pass knows this. It’s not exactly hidden information.
     
  32. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    It's fair to say that many ski industry execs thought Rob Katz was crazy when he suggested the original Epic Pass in 2008. It was half the cost of a 1-resort season pass at the four VR resorts in Colorado. Access was unlimited and unrestricted at all four in 2008-09. Sales ended Nov. 15, 2008.

    For those interested in quick history of the first 10 years of the Epic pass. The other factor that has become increasingly important was that VR opted to create EpicMix by 2010.
    https://snowsports.org/vr-celebrates-ten-years-of-the-epic-pass/

    The last number I remember reading for Epic passes was 750,000. Was at least year ago, perhaps two. That's definitely a lot of money in the bank before the snow flies in N. America.
     
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  33. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Ironically, the usually good season last winter cause more problems for VR and Alterra. Travelers probably have a great time even when lines are long because they are just happy to get good snow for their vacation planned months in advance. Especially those who live where 20 min lines on non-holiday weekends are typical. But locals were totally annoyed because they assumed that their home mountain would be as empty as it was 10 years ago without Ikon/Epic.

    Complaints at Jackson Hole and Aspen made more news. But the same parking and crowd issues happened the first season or two at Stowe in Vermont after the VR purchase.

    The impact of a bad season is that fewer people buy an expensive pass the next spring. Just as true for a multi-resort pass as it is for a 1-resort pass. After a good season, everyone is an optimist.
     
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  34. sly_karma

    sly_karma Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    This is the exact reason for purchase of so many small resorts. They're all clustered around the densely populated northeast/inner midwest. Pay a bit more for season pass to nearby hill where you've been going for years, get access to all the shiny western resorts in the VR stable. People find themselves taking a western vacay every season now because they can get flights on points to make it even more attractive. VR has their money up front, additional revenue from accoms, meals and lessons in the bag, and minimal bleed over spending to competitors. They have sufficient properties out west to spread them out pretty well, and the money to provide upgrades to handle the additional traffic.
     
    #34 sly_karma, Oct 15, 2019 at 11:51 AM
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2019 at 1:42 PM
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  35. absentskier

    absentskier Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    It’s a great business model.
     
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  36. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    The last number I worked out for Australia (perisher) epic pass was 42,000 passes.
    That was the season before Hotham/Falls acquisition.
     
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  37. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    The Peak Pass didn't exist for that many years. Peak Resorts expanded out of the midwest relatively recently. But sales increased steadily every year. A little hard to tell how much was simply because they were added resorts in the northeast and mid-Atlantic, but presumably VR had access to relevant numbers before making the decision to work towards a buy out.

    My ski buddy who lives in Ohio doesn't ski that much at the Peak locations within driving distance. But he's considering an Epic pass for 2020-21 now that he can use it both for a few days locally and for a trip or two to destination resorts. Since he's still working, even during seasons when he joined me and other friends for a ski trip it wasn't quite worth getting a multi-resort pass like the MCP or Epic or Ikon.