Vail Resorts Gets Even Bigger, and EPIC Pass Gets More Epic

July 23, 2019

Vail Resorts Gets Even Bigger, and EPIC Pass Gets More Epic

If you haven't heard the news, Vail Resorts announced it acquired Peak Resorts on Monday. Check out an industry explanation about the deal on SGB Media.

So, what does this deal mean for skiers and boarders?

EPIC Pass Adds 17 New Mountains

If you're an EPIC Pass holder, you now have access to all 17 mountains that are part of Peak Resorts, focused in the Northeast and Midwest. Peak Resorts locations include:

  • Alpine Valley (OH)
  • Attitash Mountain (NH)
  • Boston Mills/Brandywine (OH)
  • Crotched Mountain (NH)
  • Mount Snow (VT)
  • Wildcat (NH)
  • and 11 others (all listed here)

Now your EPIC pass extends all the way from New England to the West Coast. If you like to travel and board at different places during the season, this is a really good situation.

Pros and Cons of Resort Consolidation

As with any big business deal, and in particular, concentration into fewer and much larger companies, there are many pros and cons to think about. 

Pros

  • Expanded Access. EPIC Pass allows skiers and boarders to take their pass membership to even more resorts.
  • Needed Improvements. The large resources of Vail Resorts are now available to Peak mountains. This can result in important upgrades to snow making, infrastructure, and amenities at the Peak Resorts.
  • Better Services. Vail Resorts pledges to improve guest experiences, as they bring their knowledge and operating skills to the Peak properties.

Cons

  • Crowding out of the locals. EPIC Pass brings more people to your local mountain. This can result in crowded slopes and terrain parks, longer lift lines, and the loss of the local vibe.
  • Increased Ticket Prices. Upgrading facilities and the guest experience isn't free. And Vail Resorts isn't a non-profit. So, you can expect ticket prices and season pass costs to go up, if not sooner, than later.

Is it Possible for Resorts to Stay Local?

Colorado's Arapahoe Basin is determined to try. In February, A-Basin announced they're ending participation in the EPIC pass program. A-Basin issued a statement saying they wanted to reduce overcrowding and take better care of their guests.

"While the mountain still has plenty of room for skiers and riders, the ski area is feeling a pinch on parking and facility space. Due to these constraints, Arapahoe Basin believes its staff can take better care of its guests by separating from Vail Resorts." (Arapahoe Basin press release)

It'll be important to see how A-Basin does over time as a "stand-alone" resort.

Bottom Line

If you're already an EPIC Pass holder, then you just picked up 17 new mountains to try. If one of the Peak Resorts is your local mountain, you just picked up access to the EPIC Pass network. If you're a "ski local" advocate for your nearby mountain, you may be worried about what the future holds as part of the super sized Vail Resorts network.

At the end of the day, the snow industry needs to evolve quickly and find ways to survive as the existential threat of climate change looms, and the serious demographic and participation rate challenges continue to put pressure on the outdoor industry. Not everyone may like it, but this Vail / Peak deal may help this evolution accelerate.





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