Vail Resorts (MTN) and Aspen Skiing Co. have led an industry wide consolidation that has dawned an era of multi-resort seasonal passes; providing skiers discounts on lift tickets, a hedge against warm winters and incentives to visit different mountains. Within the last 12 months, Vail Resorts bought Vermont’s Stowe mountain and acquired Whistler-Blackcomb Holdings for a record $1.3 billion; while Aspen Skiing Co. (in partnership with KSL Capital Partners) bought 6 resorts from Intrawest Resort Holdings for $1.5 billion and 4 additional properties from Mammoth Resorts. Independent mountains, feeling the pressure to remain competitive, are also banding together to provide comparable offerings.
Howie Long-Short: MTN and Aspen Skiing have used acquisitions to take market share within the ski industry. There isn’t much of an alternative. No new ski resorts have been built in North America in nearly 40 years as environmental regulations and enormous infrastructure costs prevent new destinations from being developed. As of September 24th, MTN North American 2017-2018 pass sales were up 17% YOY. The company will next report earnings in December.
Fan Marino: Vail Resort Inc.’s top of the line multi-mountain seasonal pass includes unlimited access to all 15 MTN owned resorts plus bonus days at 30 partner resorts in Europe. The RFID-enabled Epic Pass costs $899. Looking to get in some runs before Thanksgiving? Vail Mountain will open as scheduled on Friday November 17th. Breckenridge and Keystone, 2 other MTN resorts opened last Friday.
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