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Peak resorts bought by vail
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Updated 21 days ago
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4 months ago

Game changer for sure in this region. The Epic Pass will be the go to megapass for most skiers in the Mid-Atlantic, giving one excellent local and destination options in all major US fly to ski regions.

4 months ago

For completely selfish reasons, I wish Alterra would respond by purchasing 7S, HV and LM.  Heck, go all in and grab Wisp, BK and that ski area formerly known as Timberline.

4 months ago

Talk about an announcement coming out of left field!

‘Vail gets a feeder system in Baltimore/Washington, Ohio, and Missouri and a few NE destinations.

The quetion is “What other multi hill operators remain to be bought by either Altera or Vail?” Who could be next as it looks ike this trend is likely to continue.

 

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

Check out a podcast released earlier in July by Vail Resorts about the process of integrating new resorts into the Epic organization. I wondered about the timing, but now it’s pretty obvious given the announcement about VR pulling in Peak.

https://soundcloud.com/epicbynature/integrating-a-winning-team

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

Wonder where the big projects will be?  The Peak resorts in PA are in pretty good shape.  So is Mount Snow.  I would think the Peak resorts in the midwest have kept up.  There are issues with a few old lifts in the northeast though.

“…

Vail Resorts’ annual ongoing capital expenditures are expected to increase by $10 million to support the addition of the Peak Resorts ski areas. After closing of the transaction, Vail Resorts plans to invest approximately $15 million over the next two years in one-time capital spending to elevate the guest experience at these resorts. 

The transaction was approved by both companies’ Boards of Directors, and the Peak Resorts Board of Directors also recommends that Peak Resorts’ shareholders approve the transaction.

The transaction is expected to close this fall. The parties expect operations at all Peak Resorts ski areas to continue in the ordinary course of business. Upon closing, Vail Resorts plans to retain the vast majority of each resort’s employees.

…”

https://www.epicpass.com/info/peak-resorts-release.aspx

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

So Peak shares were $4-5 before the announcement.  Jumped to over $10 after VR said the “merger” price was $11/share.  Has there been any other aquisition described as a “merger”?  Pretty sure the purchase of Triple Peaks wasn’t (Okemo, Sunapee, Crested Butte).  But this is the first purchase of a multi-resort, multi-regional public company.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

For those who haven’t skied in the northeast much, here’s the complete list of locations currently owned and operated by Peak Resorts.  Peak started in the midwest.  Mount Snow, Attitash/Wildcat, and Crotched serves the Boston market.  Folks from NYC/NJ drive to Hunter and Mount Snow, but not NH.  

  • Mount Snow in Vermont
  • Hunter Mountain in New York 
  • Attitash Mountain ResortWildcat Mountain and Crotched Mountain in New Hampshire
  • Liberty Mountain ResortRoundtop Mountain ResortWhitetail ResortJack Frost and Big Boulder in Pennsylvania
  • Alpine ValleyBoston MillsBrandywine and Mad River Mountain in Ohio
  • Hidden Valley and Snow Creek in Missouri
  • Paoli Peaks in Indiana

I think of Mount Snow, Hunter, and Wildcat as “big mountains” for the northeast that have terrain for all abilities levels from beginner to advanced/expert.  Wildcat is paired with Attitash, which has slopeside lodging.  Meaning it’s possible to buy a day ticket for Wildcat/Attitash and ski at both on the same day.  Or stick to Attitash if high winds or low visibility make Wildcat less inviting for someone who buys a day ticket online in advance.  They are about 20 min apart on dry roads.  Wildcat skis big because of the vertical and the main lift from base to summit is a high-speed quad.  Attitash is a better place for beginners and families with young kids just getting started with snowsports.

Mount Snow: 1700 ft vertical, 600 acres, 480 acres snowmaking; full resort

Hunter: 1600 ft vertical, 320 acres, 100% snowmaking; resort

Wildcat: 2100 ft vertical, 225 acres, 200 acres snowmaking; ski area

4 months ago

Wildcat is awesome!  Challenging terrain, good snow, and awesome views of Mt. Washington.  But don’t take your cameras out, you might not put them away for a bit and you’ll miss skiing or riding!  Both Wildcat and Attitash have had lift issues recently so that wll be a big project for Vail.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

SkiMag’s article emphasized Mount Snow.

https://www.skimag.com/news/vail-resorts-acquires-peak-resorts

“…

“Vail Resorts has a proven track record of celebrating the unique identity of its resorts, while continually investing in the guest and employee experience. For this reason, we are confident that our resorts and employees will continue to thrive within the Vail Resorts network,” said Timothy Boyd, president and chief executive officer of Peak Resorts. “We are thrilled that our guests will now have access to some of the world’s most renowned resorts.”

Vail Resorts will honor and continue to sell all Peak Pass products for the upcoming season and give Peak Pass holders the option to upgrade to an Epic Pass or Epic Local Pass, currently retailing at $939 and $699 respectively, once the acquisition is finalized. 

As with its other ski resort acquisitions in the past, Vail will invest significant capital in the former Peak Resorts to upgrade the guest experience, setting aside approximately $15 million in one-time spending over the next two years.”

4 months ago

I’m so excited about this. We have been going to Breck and Park City every year or every other with a group for the last few years and every time I wish that my “spent money” there and at liberty could go into a pass. I was so bummed that Peak bought them and had high hopes that Vail would still move in. 

 

People on facebook seem to be really unhappy, but I think it is becuase of the increase in price compared to what they were paying at liberty and the cluster that was the peak aquisition. 

4 months ago
Well finally something to be happy about, time renew my Epic Local Pass. 15 million in improvements expected across the board for the Peak resorts. Could Whitetail finally see the detach replaced and Liberty see the triple installed on the terrain park.
marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

padjaski68 wrote:

Well finally something to be happy about, time renew my Epic Local Pass. 15 million in improvements expected across the board for the Peak resorts. Could Whitetail finally see the detach replaced and Liberty see the triple installed on the terrain park.

$15M is actually not that much money for 17 resorts.  VR invested $33M in the three small mountains in the midwest.  There are lift issues in the northeast that are far more significant than at the former Snowtime locations.

4 months ago

marzNC wrote:

padjaski68 wrote:

Well finally something to be happy about, time renew my Epic Local Pass. 15 million in improvements expected across the board for the Peak resorts. Could Whitetail finally see the detach replaced and Liberty see the triple installed on the terrain park.

$15M is actually not that much money for 17 resorts.  VR invested $33M in the three small mountains in the midwest.  There are lift issues in the northeast that are far more significant than at the former Snowtime locations.

Very true 15 million isn’t alot but many of Peak Resorts were in ok shape except Attitash in NH. Whitetail’s detach does need to be addressed. How they share the wealth will be interesting. Mt Brighton and Afton Alps saw the inital big investment and have coasted since. There is only so much you can improve if the ski area is already in great shape. Luckily Snow Times took care of their resorts. Jack Frost had lift issues this year and so did Attitash. Attitash was the runt of their portfolio, They removed their summit double last summer only to see summit triple fall apart during the season. Whether it will be operational for this season who knows. The Snow Times resort may not receive the love initially but changes for Whitetail could start to happen. They are fully aware of the overcrowding at Whitetail and know the terrain expansion does need to be addressed. I would expect to see either Liberty or Whitetail to gain a Summer Adventure program similar to Breck, PC and Vail on a lesser scale. Whitetail could see mountain biking return again. How it all plays out will be interesting for us in the Mid-Atlantic.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

padjaski68 wrote:

Very true 15 million isn’t alot but many of Peak Resorts were in ok shape except Attitash in NH. Whitetail’s detach does need to be addressed. How they share the wealth will be interesting. Mt Brighton and Afton Alps saw the inital big investment and have coasted since. There is only so much you can improve if the ski area is already in great shape. Luckily Snow Times took care of their resorts. Jack Frost had lift issues this year and so did Attitash. Attitash was the runt of their portfolio, They removed their summit double last summer only to see summit triple fall apart during the season. Whether it will be operational for this season who knows. The Snow Times resort may not receive the love initially but changes for Whitetail could start to happen. They are fully aware of the overcrowding at Whitetail and know the terrain expansion does need to be addressed. I would expect to see either Liberty or Whitetail to gain a Summer Adventure program similar to Breck, PC and Vail on a lesser scale. Whitetail could see mountain biking return again. How it all plays out will be interesting for us in the Mid-Atlantic..

Agree that improvement related to summer activites are likely.

Be interesting how the reporting structure is set up.  Last time I looked one of the GMs of a midwest resort was also the VP overseeing all three midwest resorts.  Presumably the midwest Peak resorts fall under that VP.  Does that leave the MidA together with the northeast?  Hunter, Mt Snow, Stowe, Okemo, Sunapee would be more than enough to oversee.  They draw from NYC and New England.  Where does that leave the PA locations?  Would DC/NoVA/Philly be of enough interest to have a separate VP paying attention?

4 months ago

I’d like to offer an alternative opinion. Is this consolidation a good thing? This seems like the Walmartarization of the ski industry. How will the local players be able to compete? 

4 months ago

snowsmith wrote:

I’d like to offer an alternative opinion. Is this consolidation a good thing? This seems like the Walmartarization of the ski industry. How will the local players be able to compete? 

Great question, Snowsmith!  Especially Canaan, Wisp & Wintergreen!  I think Altiera (Ikon Pass) needs to respond by buying TL, and  Blue Knob.  Would give them access to western PA skiers and more Washington folks, keeping the IKON pass a viable option for Mid-A skiers!

MorganB aka The Colonel

4 months ago

Did anybody else notice…

And am I correct in assuming that the introduction of a military version of the EPIC is another new wrinkle in the battle of the passes!!??  Under this pass active duty and retired mil (think the Washington area) can get an Epic Pass for nearly nothing and still be able to ski locally.  And they include veterans in the EPIC military pass, albeit at a higher price point (but still less than a Epic Local pass)!!!

MorganB

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

The Colonel wrote:

Did anybody else notice…

And am I correct in assuming that the introduction of a military version of the EPIC is another new wrinkle in the battle of the passes!!??  Under this pass active duty and retired mil (think the Washington area) can get an Epic Pass for nearly nothing and still be able to ski locally.  And they include veterans in the EPIC military pass, albeit at a higher price point (but still less than a Epic Local pass)!!!

MorganB

Not new for 2019-20.  Came out last year.  Marketed as celebrating 10 years of the existence of the Epic Pass, which started in 2008.  It wasn’t clear whether or not the Epic Military deal would continue.  Guess VR decided there was both business and marketing value.

https://www.epicpass.com/info/military.aspx

The new wrinkle to Epic for 2019-20 is the concept of Epic Everyday.  It’s possible to buy a “multi-day Epic pass” for 1-7 days.  $125 for 1 day, $456 for 4 days, $731 for 7 days.  So at least $105 per day.  Need to get at least 4 days if want to go to Telluride in Colorado, Snowbasin in Utah, Sun Valley in Idaho and the six (6) Resorts of the Canadian Rockies.  For context, the MCP was $469 until late June (2 days each at 17 destination resorts, 50% added days).  Full Epic is $939, must be bought before mid-Oct, unlimited access to all VR locations plus limited days at the partners (Telluride, Sun Valley, Snowbasin).

4 months ago

Vail would be wise to offer a PA only pass for $500.  Hopefully, Vail is not as tone-deaf as Peak.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

There are Epic Senior Passes for Tahoe, Kirkwood, as well as Afton Alps and Mt. Brighton in the midwest.  The Tahoe Value Pass for 65+ is $429 has 7 days/week at Heavenly and 6 days/week at Northstar & Kirkwood.  For Afton and Brighton, access is unlimited and can get half-price tickets available at Breckenridge, Park City, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood and Stowe, with “Advanced Lift Ticket” rates at Vail, Beaver Creek and Whistler Blackcomb.  Wilmot (near Chicago) doesn’t have a similar senior pass, probably because the unlimited Wilmot-only pass is only $409.  Afton-only Adult is $459 and Brighton-only is $519.

Was there a midweek pass under Snowtime?  If so, how much?  Some sort of Value pass for PA and another for the northeast would seem to be a good idea.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

Found my notes from 2016 … below are the dates of VR acquisitions outside of Tahoe.  By 2012, VR owned Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood.  VR started expanding outside Colorado in 2002 when they bought Heavenly.  The on-going acquisition process started in 2010 with the long-term lease to operate Northstar (EPR owns Northstar).  Squaw Valley combined with Alpine Meadows in 2011.  The Epic Pass started in 2008.

2012 - Afton Alps, MN (near Minn/St. Paul)

2012 - Mt. Brighton, MI (near Detroit/Ann Arbor)

2013 - Canyons, UT (50-yr lease)

2014 - Park City (PCMR), UT

2014 - Perisher in Australia

2016 - Wilmot, WI (close to Chicago)

2016 - W-B in Vancouver, Canada - public company

2017 - Stowe, VT

2018 - Triple Peaks (Crested Butte in CO, Okemo in VT, Sunapee in NH)

2019 - Falls Creek in Australia

2019 - Hotham in Australia

2019 - Peak Resorts, 17 resorts in midwest, mid-Atlantic, northeast - public company

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

Look another look at the press release.  A couple of things stand out to me from the first section.  This “aquisition” is also called a “merger” given the size of Peak Resorts.  It says “17 U.S. Ski Areas” not “17 U.S. Ski Resorts.”  I didn’t realize before that the $11/share price was about twice the value of a share when the announcement was made.  The metropolitan areas that will become the natural markets for Epic are explicitly listed.  A few of the midwest locations weren’t even on the Peak Pass before.

The related FAQ is very thorough.  Worth taking a look if you already bought an Epic pass and/or a Peak pass.  Keep scrolling down for upgrade and refund info for relevant situations.  My guess is VR covered a lot more likely questions than Peak Resort thought about when Snowtime was aquired.

https://www.epicpass.com/info/peak-resorts-faq.aspx

 

https://www.epicpass.com/info/peak-resorts-release.aspx

Vail Resorts to Acquire Peak Resorts, Owner of 17 U.S. Ski Areas

BROOMFIELD, Colo.—July 22, 2019—Vail Resorts, Inc. (NYSE: MTN) today announced it has entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire 100 percent of the outstanding stock of Peak Resorts, Inc. (NASDAQ: SKIS) at a purchase price of $11.00 per share, subject to certain conditions, including regulatory review and Peak Resorts’ shareholder approval.

Through the acquisition, Vail Resorts will add 17 U.S. ski areas to its network of world-class resorts. Located near major metropolitan areas, including New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Columbus, St. Louis, Kansas City and Louisville, the resorts include:

  • Mount Snow in Vermont
  • Hunter Mountain in New York 
  • Attitash Mountain ResortWildcat Mountain and Crotched Mountain in New Hampshire
  • Liberty Mountain ResortRoundtop Mountain ResortWhitetail ResortJack Frost and Big Boulder in Pennsylvania
  • Alpine ValleyBoston MillsBrandywine and Mad River Mountain in Ohio
  • Hidden Valley and Snow Creek in Missouri
  • Paoli Peaks in Indiana

 

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

Anyone remember when CNL owned a lot of ski resorts?  And then sold them all to EPR in 2017?  EPR has sold a bunch of the ski resorts since then.  For instance, Boyne Resorts bought back all the resorts they were operating after selling to CNL to avoid borrowing too much money.

Guess who owns several Peak Resorts locations?  Like Boyne Resorts until recently, Peak is the owner/operator for some resorts but only the operator for others.  

May be old news to some people but I only started getting curious about the ski industry in terms of corporate ownership or operations level when Alterra came on the scene.  Change of ownership makes no difference to paying guests when the operator doesn’t change.  Most people assume the operator is also the owner.  EPR owns Northstar, with VR as the long-term operator as of 2010.  EPR also owns Wisp, Wintergreen, and Camelback.

https://www.eprkc.com/portfolio/recreation/ski-areas/property-list/

OPERATED BY PEAK RESORTS

Mount Snow in Vermont
Hunter Mountain in New York
Jack Frost and Big Boulder in Pennsylvania
Alpine Valley, Boston Mills, Brandywine and Mad River Mountain in Ohio

4 months ago

A few things of note. Peak actually did a good job imo of relaying the pass upgrades last season, the path from Snowtime to get a peak pass was pretty clear from a customer POV. The computer system was not really in place for it, but the people working at whitetail just took the time and went through the steps.

i did notice the Peak pass I got in the mail a few weeks ago was not hole punched and said it needed to be activated before use at any Peak resort which I thought was a bit strange, but may be their normal practice. The one thing that concerns me on vails FAQ is they say upgrades will be the difference in the price at the date of transfer… peak pushed their passes really early and considering they won’t allow transfers until the sale goes through hopefully they will hold the current prices. In the past the snowtime cutoff for early rates was October. I don’t know what peak did in the last but I wonder if the early push for passes was in anticipation of a sale. I’m probably going to upgrade at the current rates, but any increase I’ll stick to IKON for all my west and NE trips

4 months ago

If the cost of the upgrade is the difference between the price of my

Peak pass at the time of the upgrade, and the price of the Epic  Pass at the time of the upgrade, then that would be a good deal because the Peak Pass  prices are currently much higher than the rates offered in the spring. 

4 months ago

I read it as cost paid and epic cost at exchange date…but if you are correct it helps everyone except people that bought the drifter pass that they promoted so much. But not surprised Peak is gonna try and play pricing games until the very end. I think they allowed peak upgrades before the sale closed last fall, but I could be wrong.

MitchSH wrote:

If the cost of the upgrade is the difference between the price of my

Peak pass at the time of the upgrade, and the price of the Epic  Pass at the time of the upgrade, then that would be a good deal because the Peak Pass  prices are currently much higher than the rates offered in the spring. 

 

4 months ago
Should this acquisition go thru one thing to look forward to is the installation of RFID systems at the lifts. 😁😁😁😁
marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

Anyone been to Paoli Peaks in Indiana?  Found an article in the Courier Journal about the VR deal for Peak Resorts.  Paoli is an hour west of Louisville, KY and 90 minutes south of Indianapolis.  Looks like 300’ vert and 65 acres, 100% snowmaking.  The land was leased in 1978 for 100 years from the hog farmer who owned it back then.  Deal is $10,000 per year or 1.5% of operating revenue.  Get the feeling the reporter did a little research about VR and Paoli Peaks before writing this article. But missed the fact that VR also owns Falls Creek and Hotham in Australia as of a few months ago.

The owner of ski havens around the world is buying Indiana’s Paoli Peaks - July 23, 2019

“Southern Indiana ski resort Paoli Peaks may soon be under new ownership in the form of a Colorado-based company that operates popular ski havens around North America.

Vail Resorts Inc., based in Broomfield, Colorado, announced Monday it has acquired Peak Resorts Inc., which owns Paoli Peaks and 16 other ski areas in the Midwest and Northeast.

The estimated $264 million deal is expected to close this fall, pending approval from regulators and Peak Resorts’ shareholders, according to a Vail Resorts news release.

Vail Resorts already owns close to two dozen mountain resorts that are likely familiar to many ski addicts, such as Vail, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado; Park City in Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada; and Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada.

The company also owns Perisher Ski Resort in Australia.

The acquisition will give Paoli Peaks visitors access to the Vail Resorts “Epic Pass” and other lift ticket specials that can be used at Vail Resorts’ ski getaways around the world.


Opened in December 1978, Paoli Peaks offers skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing each year from mid-December to mid-March. The mountain has 16 trails and a 700-foot tubing park along with eight chairlifts.

The 16 other ski resorts owned by Peak Resorts that Vail Resorts would acquire are in Vermont, New York, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Missouri.

…”

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

padjaski68 wrote:

Should this acquisition go thru one thing to look forward to is the installation of RFID systems at the lifts. 😁😁😁😁

Yep.  Looks like Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, and Wilmot all have RFID so that EpicMix can track all passholders.  Seems like RFID would be a priority for Whitetail, Liberty, and Roundtop over any lift improvements or replacements.

4 months ago

marzNC wrote

Seems like RFID would be a priority for Whitetail, Liberty, and Roundtop over any lift improvements or replacements.

Beg to differ here.  RFID wouldn’t make as much difference at the (former)Snow Time resorts as improved/replaced/new lifts would.

 

4 months ago
Ski Magazine did an article about Paoli Peaks a few years ago. Small Midwest “hill” with weekend night skiing till 3 or 4 am
marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

mwg wrote:

Beg to differ here.  RFID wouldn’t make as much difference at the (former)Snow Time resorts as improved/replaced/new lifts would.

Of course new lifts would make more difference to skiers/boarders.  My point was about VR priorities, not those of a season passholder.  Listening to the July podcast by VR about integrating newly acquired ski resorts into the company, the comments from the IT person made it explicitly clear that installing or converting new locations to the VR computer system was a high priority.  One reason was to be able to gather data about what guests are doing, or not doing.  The comments from the IT VP start around the 4-min mark.  He talked about the IT integration of W-B.  The next topic is about what HR does.

https://soundcloud.com/epicbynature/integrating-a-winning-team

I hadn’t looked at the Epic pass website much before since I’ve been using the MCP, and now Ikon, because some of those destination resorts are my favorites.  I can understand that the complexity of the offerings in terms of “local” passes and special categories for seniors or military are much easier to offer because there is one system for buying a season pass, instead of 10-15 different computer-based systems.

My professional background includes working in middle management at a private company that went from 40 people in one location to a public company with 17,000 people at mutiple offices in multiple countries in less than 10 years, including one major merger and several acquisitions of smaller companies.  My immediate boss went from being responsible for a dept of less than 10 people to a Sr. Dir. overseeing 4-5 locations scattered around the U.S. plus coordinating with a couple locations in Europe.  I was on more than one team over the years dealing with building or modifying in-house software to be used across offices and countries.  Not an easy process.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

msprings wrote:

Ski Magazine did an article about Paoli Peaks a few years ago. Small Midwest “hill” with weekend night skiing till 3 or 4 am

Found it!  From 2009.  Wonder if the Friday night scene is the same 10 years later.  Quite a fun read.  I thought it was an upside-down set up and it is, with the lodge at the top of the 300-ft hill.  Can’t figure out when Paoli was bought by Peak, or Tim Boyd before Peak Resorts existed, but found some history of Paoli written up in Jan 2019.  Had 6 fan guns in 1979.

It’s Time to Celebrate… Paoli Peaks Turns 40!

http://www.visitfrenchlickwestbaden.com/play/articles/details.aspx?id=3844

“…

After the winters in the 70’s (Blizzard of 1978 ring a bell?) Dr. Richard Graber thought adding slopes in Paoli was a great idea. He found investors, mostly other doctors to join in on the venture. Land was purchased from local farmers, and yes, the rumors are true… it used to be a hog farm! Felix and Margirt Kati originally from Switzerland were brought in to manage and build the slopes and lifts.

…”

 

https://www.skimag.com/adventure/skiing-indiana

“It’s 6 p.m. and I’m driving somewhere between the Kentucky border and Larry Bird’s hometown of French Lick, Indiana. The two-lane road cuts through rolling fields gone brown for the winter, past corn, cows, horses, and barns. Then I see a sign with a tiny white ski jumper silhouetted on a dark background, and then another group of signs beckoning me to turn left for Paoli Peaks. I take the turn just before the Midwest Inn and pass a Subway and a bowling alley as I wind away from the main road. But with each twist, I seem to get farther from the only hill I’ve seen since touching down in Louisville. Finally, the road lurches right, up a rise, and I arrive in a gravel parking lot.

Families and teens—walking among church buses, cars, pickups, and RVs—cross the lot toward a large building. To its right, at the far edge of the gravel, I spot a bright and incongruous expanse of white atop a barely sloping field of Indiana dirt. Walking toward it, I peer through a few scrub pines and nearly rub my eyes in cartoonish disbelief: Ahead is a field of snow with skiers unloading from the top of a quad chair. Have I driven to the summit of a ski area? Is that even possible?

It’s Friday, and the ski area is to host its weekly College Midnight Madness ski session, during which, for $35, students from nearby universities can ski from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m., with rental gear and a voucher for a lesson that few of them will bother with. Tens of thousands of students from Indiana University, Purdue, the University of Louisville, and the University of Kentucky live within striking distance.

I’m not sure where to start. Chairlifts deposit wobbly skiers on the plateau that is the crest of the hill. The well-groomed run, illuminated at the top by tall light towers, seems to drop off into darkness just beyond, bounded by dark, snowless stands of deciduous forest. The danger posed by the critical mass of out-of-control beginners is intensified by Paoli’s upside-down, parking-lot-on-the-summit layout: New skiers have no idea what they’re getting into since they haven’t seen the mountain yet.

…”

4 months ago

Other than the triple that liberty has purchased for the park what lift improvements are people expecting for the snowtime resorts? I realize whitetail’s HSQ is aging… but seems to still be quite reliable. Short of really crowded days the only places I see consistently long lines at any of the resorts is the ez rider quad at whitetail and the front lift to the top at liberty. Compared to other areas I don’t feel like the HSQ at whitetail ever gets too bad, and unless they can cut more trails I don’t think they want a six.

roundtop always seems to spread crowds out well in my experience 

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

Just looked at the Epic Pass website to see how Telluride and Sun Valley are handled.  By having only one website that sells season passes and lift tickets for all VR locations, making sure that updates needed because of an aquisition is relatively straightforward.  All the Peak Resorts are already listed with the caveat “subject to close.”  If there were 5-10 separate systems for ticketing at resorts bought by VR in recent years, much more effort would be needed to get all of them done correctly and quickly.

Telluride and SV/Snowbasin are partners.  The number of days is restricted.  Seven days for Full Epic, 2 days for Epic Local, with 50% off for additional days.  All three were on the MCP for a short while, so could draw on that experience to come up with a workable offer.  To use the Epic Day Pass at these three resorts, have to buy 4-7 days ($114-105/day).

4 months ago
RFID readers are used for both day passes and season passes. Yes it would speed up the process thru lift maze. No scanning tickets required which was a huge complaint. One of lift attendants was usually the person scanning. It frees them up to move people thru the lift quickly. Back in March, when I was in Park City, they used scanners mainly midweek as a back up to the RFID system. But rarely saw them out there. The biggest tool for the RFID system it providing feedback of where the bottleneck are and fixing it. Vail Mountain is a good example of this info being used wisely replacing lifts in recent years.
marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

padjaski68 wrote:

RFID readers are used for both day passes and season passes… .

Yes, but isn’t EpicMix only for season passholders?  Presumably VR would like passholders to get hooked on EpicMix for tracking their skiing.

Sunapee had the VR RFID system installed in time for the 2018-19 season.  They were using hand scanners.  When I was there in March it was clear the technology was new.  Regulars had figured out where to put their RFID cards, but there were quite a few times the lift line slowed down because the scanner wasn’t picking up someone’s card.

I’ve been using RFID at Alta for years.  Like it a lot.  Alta and Solitude were among the first ski areas to implement RFID, Was very glad when Snowbird finally went to RFID.  They decided to put big money into building the Summit Lodge first.

What has surprised me as I sampled New England in the last few years was the small resorts that have invested in RFID.  Jiminy Peak, Waterville Valley in particular.  WV is using a system that doesn’t require gates.  Several small resorts in NH have installed RFID in the last few years.  For more than in VT I think.  At some point last season I rode a lift with a man who claimed that resorts weren’t using the data from RFID passes.  We weren’t at a VR location.  Can’t remember if I was in New England or out west.

I started reading about RFID at U.S. ski resorts in 2015.  Discovered then what makes the VR RFID system different.  :-)

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

Looks like EpicMix was fully implemented by 2010.  The early version was at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, and Heavenly.

https://www.barcoding.com/blog/rfid-and-social-media-at-vail-resorts/

Development for the first RFID implementation at Vail started in 2007.  Rolled out at the four Colorado VR locations, plus Arapahoe Basin.  Around the same time, Aspen started using RFID from another vendor in 2008.  But it’s EpicMix that is unique to VR as a multi-resort corportation.  Making the commitment to implement the same RFID system at all new VR locations was as big a business decision as the introduction of the Epic Pass in 2008.

It looks like several of the Alterra resorts and Ikon partners use the same RFID system.  The vendor is Axxess.

Argent - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

I’ve used EpicMix without a season pass, though most of my skiing isn’t (or I guess, wasn’t) at Vail Resorts, so I’ve been using Slopes to track. 

4 months ago

padjaski68 wrote:

RFID readers are used for both day passes and season passes. Yes it would speed up the process thru lift maze. No scanning tickets required which was a huge complaint. One of lift attendants was usually the person scanning. It frees them up to move people thru the lift quickly. Back in March, when I was in Park City, they used scanners mainly midweek as a back up to the RFID system. But rarely saw them out there. The biggest tool for the RFID system it providing feedback of where the bottleneck are and fixing it. Vail Mountain is a good example of this info being used wisely replacing lifts in recent years.

Agree, RFID is used by owners to reduce manpower and collect data on skier habits etc. and in some cases (Epic) create an eco-system for customers to track their activity, rewards, find friends, etc.  I disagree that RFID speeds the lift loading process.  Look at Ballhooter at Snowshoe….the lines are not because a lifty is having to scan.  One lifty scanning and one marshalling (usually Mike) keep every chair full.  Replacing the scanner with RFID won’t make a difference. Maybe at lifts where there’s no line and you have to wait for the lifty to scan you, okay you miss one chair but big deal.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

Argent wrote:

I’ve used EpicMix without a season pass, though most of my skiing isn’t (or I guess, wasn’t) at Vail Resorts, so I’ve been using Slopes to track. 

Ah, didn’t know it worked that way.  I don’t track my skiing with any app.  Just keep track of “ski days” manually since I get to travel for multiple ski trips.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

All sorts of geeky stuff can turn up … came across an article about the VR implementation of RFID in 2008-09.  It’s on the website of Zebra Technologies, the company that provides the system that printed RFID cards for the system VR chose to implement.  Since the solution is featured on the Zebra website, presumably VR is still using Zebra products.

https://www.zebra.com/content/dam/zebra/success-stories/en-us/pdfs/vail-resorts-success-story-en-us.pdf

” …

Based on the maturity of the alternatives and Vail’s specific needs, the evaluation team selected ultra- high frequency (UHF) RFID tagging with handheld scanners/computers. The resulting solution is unlike any currently available in the ski industry today:

  • UHF cards instead of HF tags—UHF offers greater flexibility due to longer read ranges. The company can inexpensively add and move read points and gather group data without guest interaction.

  • Handheld scanners instead of gates—Using handheld scanners significantly reduces costs and impact to the mountain, as well as enhances the guest experience.

  • Passive detection in specialty areas—
    Passive scanning via an overhead antenna for on-mountain lifts allows resorts to read RFID- enabled passes as guests board lifts without any proactive guest interaction.

…”

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

Since my RFID experience was mainly at Alta and other resorts out west that use Axxess gates, I didn’t realize that VR is using hand scanners for lift access.  First experience was at Sunapee in March 2019.  I thought it was a temporary solution and gates would be installed later since the Triple Peaks sale wasn’t final until late Sept 2018.  Just learned that Breck and Keystone use hand scanners.

Do all VR resorts use hand scanners for lift access?  At a large resort such as Vail or Breck, there are relatively few base lifts so many guests don’t have to deal with the scanning process most of the day.  Different situation for a small ski resort like Whitetail where all the lifts are essentially base lifts.

Certainly makes it much easier to shift a newly acquired resort to the VR RFID system in a short amount of time when there is no need to install RFID gates.  Avoids both the cost and the construction effort.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

Brandywine, Boston Mills, and Alpine Valley are in northeast Ohio.  Brandywine and Boston Mills are about 30 minutes south of Cleveland.  Alpine Valley is 45 min east of Cleveland.  I have a ski buddy who lives in Cleveland.  He’s a member of the Cleveland ski club, which organizes several ski trips to destination resorts every winter.  Even do bus trips to the northeast.  Brandywine/Boston Mills has 18,000 season pass holders … wonder what percentage will be willing to pay  $699 for Epic Local.  The Peak Ohio pass for adults 30+ is around $400.  That also includes Mad River Mountain (unrelated to Mad River Glen in VT), which is an hour west of Columbus.

https://www.ohio.com/news/20190722/brandywine-and-boston-mills-ski-resorts-to-have-new-owner

” …

Boston Mills and Brandywine date back to the 1960s; Boston Mills opened in 1963 followed just days later by Brandywine.

Boston Mills purchased Brandywine in 1990; eventually, both areas were acquired by Peak Resorts in 2002.

The two resorts have a combined 18 trails, 16 lifts, a tubing park, four terrain parks, and two beginner areas.

Peak Resorts says there are more than 18,000 season pass holders at the two ski areas.”

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

Here’s Powder’s take on the Vail buyout of Peak shares.

https://www.powder.com/stories/news/vail-resorts-purchases-17-ski-areas-in-northeast-owned-by-sackler-family/

4 months ago

From Seeking Alpha (finance site) - some insight as to why how/why Peak was successful at pushing passes and why Vail is buying (bold lettering added by me):

“….the past few years have seen strong growth at the company, with revenue soaring from $104.86 million to $184.43 million. EBITDA remained mostly flat for three of the five years, but, in 2019, it came out to an impressive $49.77 million.

Part of this improvement on both the top and bottom for Peak Resorts came from M&A oriented growth, but certain user-oriented metrics have shown an uptick in the willingness and ability of the company’s customers to spend. In the graph below, for instance, Peak Resorts showed that, while the ride has been bumpy, both the revenue/skier/visit grew and the revenue/visit grew. Back in 2015, for instance, the revenue/skier/visit stood at $67.45. Today, that figure is about $87.32. Over the same period of time, the revenue/visit grew from $61.34 to $76.11.”

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

Folks around North Conway NH are putting a positive spin on the idea of VR taking over Wildcat and Attitash.  Given a choice between Peak Resorts and VR, they may have more confidence in VR as a company good for the local economy in the long run.  This article also includes comments about what Attitash is doing to repair the Summit triple chairlift for 2019-20.

https://www.conwaydailysun.com/news/local/local-ski-officials-react-to-peak-sale/article_b9f5c9c0-acb5-11e9-a347-3b3870d0c67e.html

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

RodneyBD wrote:

From Seeking Alpha (finance site) - some insight as to why how/why Peak was successful at pushing passes and why Vail is buying (bold lettering added by me):

“….the past few years have seen strong growth at the company, with revenue soaring from $104.86 million to $184.43 million. EBITDA remained mostly flat for three of the five years, but, in 2019, it came out to an impressive $49.77 million.

Part of this improvement on both the top and bottom for Peak Resorts came from M&A oriented growth, but certain user-oriented metrics have shown an uptick in the willingness and ability of the company’s customers to spend. In the graph below, for instance, Peak Resorts showed that, while the ride has been bumpy, both the revenue/skier/visit grew and the revenue/visit grew. Back in 2015, for instance, the revenue/skier/visit stood at $67.45. Today, that figure is about $87.32. Over the same period of time, the revenue/visit grew from $61.34 to $76.11.”

Hmm, found an April 2019 Seeking Alpha article that was totally negative about VR (MTN stock ID) as an investment.  The title is “MTN MELTDOWN - Short Thesis on Vail Resorts.”  Implication was that Alterra and Ikon were going to cause VR to fail relatively soon.  It’s quite long so I haven’t really read it yet.  Do see a few flaws in some of the thinking based on what I know of the ski industry and how VR has handled integration of aquisitions.  Have never paid attention to VR from an investment standpoint.

https://seekingalpha.com/instablog/5055691-oceanicshark/5296280-mtn-meltdown-short-thesis-vail-resorts

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

Only indirectly related but … here’s a different view about how Rob Katz, CEO of VR, thinks about technology related to having more fun on a vacation.  The article is not just about ski resorts.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/advice/2018/03/04/rob-katz-vail-resorts-epic-pass/387723002/

“…

Katz is a risk-taker, and not just because he’s a skier. When he proposed the idea of Epic Pass [in 2008], and reducing the price of a season pass from $1,800 to just $600, his board of directors balked. 

“That was my biggest obstacle to building Epic,” he admits. “They were concerned about reducing the price of a season pass by 70%. They said, ‘That’s not what most companies do when they want to drive revenue.’ “

His answer: The new season pass would be transformational, offering skiers unlimited, unrestricted access and keeping them coming back to the resorts. In short, it was worth the risk. And they said “yes.”

…”

 

I’ve never looked at the capabilities of EpicMix before.  Generally don’t want to be messing with my phone while actually on the slopes.  The software has clearly evolved rapidly as the use of smartphones increased.  Must say that being able to see the wait times for all lifts at a large resort seems very useful.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

marzNC wrote:

Do all VR resorts use hand scanners for lift access?  

Found the answer … VR only uses hand scanners for lifts.  At Stowe and Okemo, the gates for the existing RFID systems were taken out before Opening Day of the first season as a VR resort.  In addition to the hand scanners, there are also scanners that gather data used for EpicMix.  For instance, EpicMixTime that allows estimates of lift wait times.

https://vtskiandride.com/myth-busting-stowe/ - Sept 2018 interview with GM

“…

Q: You’re eliminating the RFID gates and bringing the EpicMix app to Stowe. What are the coolest things that app can do? 

A: We’re replacing the gates with hand scanners, which are much more efficient. We’ll also have gantries that can read your Epic pass and relay information to the EpicMix app.  EpicMix is pretty cool: it can tell you how long lift lines are, track your vertical, read digital trail maps, track your family and even earn you badges for things like skiing all the lifts at one resort in one day. We even have a Jetsetter badge which one couple and an instructor earned by skiing Vail, Park City, Utah and Heavenly, in Lake Tahoe, all in one day and flying their private jet between them.

…”

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

Here’s article written by someone who understood what VR did when they bought the three “urban” ski resorts in the midwest.  The tile of the Forbes article is “Ski Travel Revolution: Vail Acquires 17 More Ski Resorts, Expands Epic Pass.”  He’s been covering the multi-resort passes for a while.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/larryolmsted/2019/07/22/ski-travel-revolution-vail-acquires-17-more-ski-resorts-expands-epic-pass/#60447f9a711d

” …

For skiers and snowboarders, the big impact will be for those in large urban areas on the east Coast and Midwest, tens of millions of Americans. One of Vail’s most successful strategies has been to use smaller feeder mountains near large cities, like Michigan’s Mt. Brighton, which serves the Detroit and Chicago metro areas, to lure travelers into its Epic Pass program. The idea is that if you ski at home on weekends and take one or more big ski vacations a year out west (or to Europe or Japan), by choosing the Vail-owned local spot as your home hill and buying the Epic Pass, you also get the free skiing at many of the best and most famed destination resorts on earth when you travel, a real win-win for skiers. However, until now, this has been limited to a few key metro areas like Boston (Mt. Sunapee) and Minneapolis (Afton Alps). With today’s move, Vail now adds many of the best options that are closest to New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cleveland, St. Louis and Kansas City.

The highest profile spots in the collection are Hunter Mountain in New York, which has long been the closest major mountain to the New York city tri-state metro area, the place many Big Apple residents up skiing; Attitash, Wildcat and Crotched Mountains, a trio of major New Hampshire ski resorts serving the Boston market; and Mt. Snow, the southernmost major resort in Vermont and the closest of the top New England resorts, which in turn are by far the best skiing in the Eastern half of the United States, to New York City. In terms of the ultra-desirable New York market, Vail could not have picked up two better positioned resorts than Hunter and Mt. Snow, and now basically has no rival in this region, since there is nothing comparable to these for any competitor to buy, and Vail already owns Stowe and Okemo in Vermont, two of the Northeast’s best and most popular big resorts.

…”

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

Continuing to find tidbits in local news stories about transitions when VR takes over operations.  Completely changing the administrative and product sales computer systems is a big undertaking.  First season is always going to be a challenge.  Even harder when it’s happening at more than one location at the same time.  Payoff comes going forward and can take 2-3 seasons to be clear to anyone outside the IT and HR Departments.

New Hampshire and VR

https://www.unionleader.com/news/business/business_notebook/with-latest-deal-vail-resorts-will-control-four-ski-properties/article_6e64fb00-ad43-5bc9-8dc5-f24bffdf25eb.html - July 2019

4 months ago

marzNC wrote:

marzNC wrote:

Do all VR resorts use hand scanners for lift access?  

Found the answer … VR only uses hand scanners for lifts.   

VR deosn’t use hand scanners on all lifts. At bigger resorts, they are only used at base area lifts and not on upper mountain lifts.

Presumably skiers/riders were scanned at base lifts so there is no need to scan on upper lifts to prove that they bought lift tickets.

VR does on pretty rare occasions hand scan at upper mountain lifts (as a deterent) to try to catch cheats.

 

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

bob wrote:

marzNC wrote:

marzNC wrote:

Do all VR resorts use hand scanners for lift access?  

Found the answer … VR only uses hand scanners for lifts.   

VR deosn’t use hand scanners on all lifts. At bigger resorts, they are only used at base area lifts and not on upper mountain lifts.

Presumably skiers/riders were scanned at base lifts so there is no need to scan on upper lifts to prove that they bought lift tickets.

VR does on pretty rare occasions hand scan at upper mountain lifts (as a deterent) to try to catch cheats.

That’s normal not to scan tickets/passes on the upper mountain lifts.  Interesting about using a hand scanners as a deterrent.

What I was wondering about was whether any VR resort had RFID gates.  Until I went to Sunapee in March, I’d never been to a VR location.  The resorts that use the Axxess RFID system have gates for lifts where scanning is done.  Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, and Brighton all use Axxess.  Alta and Solitude were early adopters.  Alta has gates on all the lifts, but Snowbird does not.

4 months ago
At Park City, I can see that being the case, especially around the Quicksilver Gondola on both sides. On the Canyon side it would be prevalent with all of the private homes’ accessibility to numerous trails on the upper mountain in The Colony at White Pine Canyon area. That is first resort that comes to mind. Though the whole time I was there, only the Quicksilver had hand scanners when the lift opened otherwise occasionally down low at base area lifts earlier on in the day and during lunch time.
4 months ago

marzNC wrote:

bob wrote:

marzNC wrote:

marzNC wrote:

Do all VR resorts use hand scanners for lift access?  

Found the answer … VR only uses hand scanners for lifts.   

VR deosn’t use hand scanners on all lifts. At bigger resorts, they are only used at base area lifts and not on upper mountain lifts.

Presumably skiers/riders were scanned at base lifts so there is no need to scan on upper lifts to prove that they bought lift tickets.

VR does on pretty rare occasions hand scan at upper mountain lifts (as a deterent) to try to catch cheats.

That’s normal not to scan tickets/passes on the upper mountain lifts.  Interesting about using a hand scanners as a deterrent.

What I was wondering about was whether any VR resort had RFID gates.  Until I went to Sunapee in March, I’d never been to a VR location.  The resorts that use the Axxess RFID system have gates for lifts where scanning is done.  Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, and Brighton all use Axxess.  Alta and Solitude were early adopters.  Alta has gates on all the lifts, but Snowbird does not.

The real early adopters of RFID gates were the Europeans. I was using RFID gates in Austria and Italy 25 years ago.

4 months ago

marzNC wrote:

bob wrote:

marzNC wrote:

marzNC wrote:

Do all VR resorts use hand scanners for lift access?  

Found the answer … VR only uses hand scanners for lifts.   

VR deosn’t use hand scanners on all lifts. At bigger resorts, they are only used at base area lifts and not on upper mountain lifts.

Presumably skiers/riders were scanned at base lifts so there is no need to scan on upper lifts to prove that they bought lift tickets.

VR does on pretty rare occasions hand scan at upper mountain lifts (as a deterent) to try to catch cheats.

That’s normal not to scan tickets/passes on the upper mountain lifts.  Interesting about using a hand scanners as a deterrent.

What I was wondering about was whether any VR resort had RFID gates.  Until I went to Sunapee in March, I’d never been to a VR location.  The resorts that use the Axxess RFID system have gates for lifts where scanning is done.  Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, and Brighton all use Axxess.  Alta and Solitude were early adopters.  Alta has gates on all the lifts, but Snowbird does not.

Vail has gates at one of the mid-Vail lifts (6 pack) and maybe one or two others. All lifts have RFID to feed activity for EpicMix ecosystem. 

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

Bonzski wrote:

What I was wondering about was whether any VR resort had RFID gates.  Until I went to Sunapee in March, I’d never been to a VR location.  The resorts that use the Axxess RFID system have gates for lifts where scanning is done.  Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, and Brighton all use Axxess.  Alta and Solitude were early adopters.  Alta has gates on all the lifts, but Snowbird does not.

Vail has gates at one of the mid-Vail lifts (6 pack) and maybe one or two others. All lifts have RFID to feed activity for EpicMix ecosystem. 

Hmm, I wonder if those gates were put in back in 2008 when VR was testing out the first RFID implementation.  I’ve heard about the RFID scanners in the “arch” that essentially is doing the data collection used for applications such as estimating lift wait times.

All this came up when there were questions on another forum about whether or not to expect RFID at the Peak locations in PA and northeast.  In particular, Jack Frost/BB since it’s so small.  Not having to install gates certainly makes it easier to do the conversion quickly.

Never paid attention to EpicMix before.  I’m not someone who wants to track vertical electronically when on the slopes.  But I’m beginning to appreciate how having a common app that works the same way at all VR locations can be useful for folks doing a first trip out west based on an Epic pass for a midwest VR resort.  Many resorts have an app these days.  But for one week, learning the ins and outs would be a pain for most people.

4 months ago

It was extremely cool to see the vertical I skied in a day at Park City. The biggest drawback about EpicMix is not physically recording the terrain you acutally skied. The app is based on vertical of the lifts. Example if I ride the Jupiter lift I record a 1022 vertical when I go thru the reader. If I ski down to the King Con Express lift, the instance I go thru the reader it records the vertical drop from the top of Jupiter lift to bottom terminal at King Con. 2700 ft of vertical recorded. A lift like Super Condor has a vertical rise of 1800 ft, I rode that several time to start the morning and already had over 10,000 in the first 2 hours. By the end of the day I racked up 28,700 vertical ft. It probably would have been higher if it wasn’t for traversing over to others areas of the resort to ski new terrain. I just wish it was GPS based to record the terrain like some other apps out there. I hope Vail Resorts is listening or is reading.

4 months ago

marzNC wrote:

Bonzski wrote:

What I was wondering about was whether any VR resort had RFID gates.  Until I went to Sunapee in March, I’d never been to a VR location.  The resorts that use the Axxess RFID system have gates for lifts where scanning is done.  Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, and Brighton all use Axxess.  Alta and Solitude were early adopters.  Alta has gates on all the lifts, but Snowbird does not.

Vail has gates at one of the mid-Vail lifts (6 pack) and maybe one or two others. All lifts have RFID to feed activity for EpicMix ecosystem. 

Hmm, I wonder if those gates were put in back in 2008 when VR was testing out the first RFID implementation.  I’ve heard about the RFID scanners in the “arch” that essentially is doing the data collection used for applications such as estimating lift wait times.

All this came up when there were questions on another forum about whether or not to expect RFID at the Peak locations in PA and northeast.  In particular, Jack Frost/BB since it’s so small.  Not having to install gates certainly makes it easier to do the conversion quickly.

Never paid attention to EpicMix before.  I’m not someone who wants to track vertical electronically when on the slopes.  But I’m beginning to appreciate how having a common app that works the same way at all VR locations can be useful for folks doing a first trip out west based on an Epic pass for a midwest VR resort.  Many resorts have an app these days.  But for one week, learning the ins and outs would be a pain for most people.

The gates were installed when they upgraded chair 4 to a 6pack with conveyor loading. Charis 2 & 11 have seen recent upgrades also but I can’t definitely recall if gates were used. FWIW the gates are not controlled by RFID, they simply control they whole group load on the coveyor and not access of inidividual skier.  All their RFID scanners are “arch” mounted.

I’m also not one to be concerned about vertical #s but it’s there and so I’ll look at it. The lift wait data is more important imho. It’s not a perfect system, I noticed instances where I wasn’t detected at lifts but the app allows you to correct info.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

Bonzski wrote:

The gates were installed when they upgraded chair 4 to a 6pack with conveyor loading. Charis 2 & 11 have seen recent upgrades also but I can’t definitely recall if gates were used. FWIW the gates are not controlled by RFID, they simply control they whole group load on the coveyor and not access of inidividual skier.  All their RFID scanners are “arch” mounted.

I’m also not one to be concerned about vertical #s but it’s there and so I’ll look at it. The lift wait data is more important imho. It’s not a perfect system, I noticed instances where I wasn’t detected at lifts but the app allows you to correct info.

Okay, that’s different.  Thanks for clarifying.  Sounds like the gates at Wintergreen for the high speed 6-packs.

I noticed on the EpicMix website that it’s possible for someone to fix their data if it’s wrong.  Adults only.  Kids under 13 aren’t allowed that sort of access. ;-)

Looks like EpicMixTime for lift wait times started around 2015.  Only selected resorts, essentially limited to the larger destination resorts out west.

What I noticed was the interface for interactive trail maps.  Having used a few different resort apps, I can see where it’s nice to be able to use the same user interface for any VR resort for someone who travels.

4 months ago

marzNC wrote:

Bonzski wrote:

The gates were installed when they upgraded chair 4 to a 6pack with conveyor loading. Charis 2 & 11 have seen recent upgrades also but I can’t definitely recall if gates were used. FWIW the gates are not controlled by RFID, they simply control they whole group load on the coveyor and not access of inidividual skier.  All their RFID scanners are “arch” mounted.

I’m also not one to be concerned about vertical #s but it’s there and so I’ll look at it. The lift wait data is more important imho. It’s not a perfect system, I noticed instances where I wasn’t detected at lifts but the app allows you to correct info.

Okay, that’s different.  Thanks for clarifying.  Sounds like the gates at Wintergreen for the high speed 6-packs.

I noticed on the EpicMix website that it’s possible for someone to fix their data if it’s wrong.  Adults only.  Kids under 13 aren’t allowed that sort of access. ;-)

Looks like EpicMixTime for lift wait times started around 2015.  Only selected resorts, essentially limited to the larger destination resorts out west.

What I noticed was the interface for interactive trail maps.  Having used a few different resort apps, I can see where it’s nice to be able to use the same user interface for any VR resort for someone who travels.

VR uses gates on 6 pack lifts to control flow on to the lifts. Hand scanners are used as one gets into the que (at least at Breck’s Quicksilver lift).

 

One can add lift rides to your total number of Epic Mix recorded lifts - but not an unlimited number. If I recall, the number one can add is 3. The RFID readers can be kind of wonky. There have been times at Keystone where the readers missed me lots more than 3 times - one time at Keystone it was 20 times. I had skied over 50k of vert and Epic Mix gave me credit for something like 20k.

4 months ago

I hadn’t suspected that RFID systems would draw that much attention and discussion, but whatever waxes your skis …

As a 65-year-old skier who skis 70-85% of a normal season in the Mid-Atlantic, I see few benefits from the Snowtime-to-Peak-to-Vail transition.  Liberty and Whitetall, my two home areas, were already well-run IMHO by the Snowtime management.  My reservations about each were trivial.  While I expect Vail to continue to manage the Snowtime areas well, I also expect:

  • Higher prices on everything that I buy, from a season’s pass to a white chocolate and macadamia nut cookie.  While I’ll probably still splurge for a cookie every now and then, the looming question is whether I can afford a season’s pass.  
  • Following in Peak’s footsteps, continuing elimination of the discounts I had enjoyed, or hoped to in retirement: those 50% discounts on weekday tickets for seniors, for instance.  
  • Justification of steeper pass prices by the breezy, energetic (and sometimes nonsensical) promotion of benefits I won’t be able to use; e.g., skiing at areas I’ll never visit.  Peak Resorts excelled in this annoying approach to pricing and subsequent marketing.
  • Lack of a pass option for local or regional areas only … a local pass that will cost $450 or less, which is pretty much my go/no go breaking point on a season’s pass.
  • More of a uniform, amalgamated approach to everything from lodge design to cafeteria options.  While I can appreciate an emphasis on good quality (which Liberty and Whitetail had already), I enjoyed their differences in lunch options, for instance.  No ski area I visited makes (made?) a better deli sandwich than Liberty.
  • Little interest in promoting the locale:  supporting school fundraisers, providing interpretive signs about a region’s nature and culture, participating in community projects, contributing to the construction of a new wing for a local library.  If an activity or expenditure doesn’t immediately benefit the bottom line, don’t bother.

I hope I’m wrong.  

However, I’m taking a closer look at other options.  These include a Massanutten pass (although I prefer Liberty and Whitetail) and that new regional ticket deal being discussed elsewhere here on DCSki.com

Woody

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

bousquet19 wrote:

I hadn’t suspected that RFID systems would draw that much attention and discussion, but whatever waxes your skis …

As a 65-year-old skier who skis 70-85% of a normal season in the Mid-Atlantic, I see few benefits from the Snowtime-to-Peak-to-Vail transition.  Liberty and Whitetall, my two home areas, were already well-run IMHO by the Snowtime management.  My reservations about each were trivial.  While I expect Vail to continue to manage the Snowtime areas well, I also expect:

  • Higher prices on everything that I buy, from a season’s pass to a white chocolate and macadamia nut cookie.  While I’ll probably still splurge for a cookie every now and then, the looming question is whether I can afford a season’s pass.  
  • Following in Peak’s footsteps, continuing elimination of the discounts I had enjoyed, or hoped to in retirement: those 50% discounts on weekday tickets for seniors, for instance.  
  • Justification of steeper pass prices by the breezy, energetic (and sometimes nonsensical) promotion of benefits I won’t be able to use; e.g., skiing at areas I’ll never visit.  Peak Resorts excelled in this annoying approach to pricing and subsequent marketing.
  • Lack of a pass option for local or regional areas only … a local pass that will cost $450 or less, which is pretty much my go/no go breaking point on a season’s pass.
  • More of a uniform, amalgamated approach to everything from lodge design to cafeteria options.  While I can appreciate an emphasis on good quality (which Liberty and Whitetail had already), I enjoyed their differences in lunch options, for instance.  No ski area I visited makes (made?) a better deli sandwich than Liberty.
  • Little interest in promoting the locale:  supporting school fundraisers, providing interpretive signs about a region’s nature and culture, participating in community projects, contributing to the construction of a new wing for a local library.  If an activity or expenditure doesn’t immediately benefit the bottom line, don’t bother.

I hope I’m wrong.  

However, I’m taking a closer look at other options.  These include a Massanutten pass (although I prefer Liberty and Whitetail) and that new regional ticket deal being discussed elsewhere here on DCSki.com

Woody

I’ve been reading as much as I can find out the three midwest resorts VR bought in 2012 and 2016.  Those serve Chicago, Detroit, and Minn/St. Paul.  My guess is that how those are handled is a better reflection of how things may go in the next couple seasons for the former Snowtime resorts than what Peak Resorts has done with their aquisitions.  VR has local/regional passes in Colorado, Tahoe, and the midwest.  VR has senior rate 1-location passes in the midwest.

I don’t really understand why people think all VR resorts look the same.  Perhaps for the Colorado resorts that were actually built by VR, but my sense of Heavenly, Northstar, and W-B (haven’t been there) is that no one would think they feel like Kirkwood or Beaver Creek (haven’t been there).  VR didn’t even buy the high end lodging when they bought Stowe, only the lifts and old lodges on the state land.  Sunapee (NH state park, operating lease only) isn’t going to turn into a resort like Okemo or Mt Snow.

4 months ago

bousquet19 wrote:

I hadn’t suspected that RFID systems would draw that much attention and discussion, but whatever waxes your skis …

As a 65-year-old skier who skis 70-85% of a normal season in the Mid-Atlantic, I see few benefits from the Snowtime-to-Peak-to-Vail transition.  Liberty and Whitetall, my two home areas, were already well-run IMHO by the Snowtime management.  My reservations about each were trivial.  While I expect Vail to continue to manage the Snowtime areas well, I also expect:

  • Higher prices on everything that I buy, from a season’s pass to a white chocolate and macadamia nut cookie.  While I’ll probably still splurge for a cookie every now and then, the looming question is whether I can afford a season’s pass.  
  • Following in Peak’s footsteps, continuing elimination of the discounts I had enjoyed, or hoped to in retirement: those 50% discounts on weekday tickets for seniors, for instance.  
  • Justification of steeper pass prices by the breezy, energetic (and sometimes nonsensical) promotion of benefits I won’t be able to use; e.g., skiing at areas I’ll never visit.  Peak Resorts excelled in this annoying approach to pricing and subsequent marketing.
  • Lack of a pass option for local or regional areas only … a local pass that will cost $450 or less, which is pretty much my go/no go breaking point on a season’s pass.
  • More of a uniform, amalgamated approach to everything from lodge design to cafeteria options.  While I can appreciate an emphasis on good quality (which Liberty and Whitetail had already), I enjoyed their differences in lunch options, for instance.  No ski area I visited makes (made?) a better deli sandwich than Liberty.
  • Little interest in promoting the locale:  supporting school fundraisers, providing interpretive signs about a region’s nature and culture, participating in community projects, contributing to the construction of a new wing for a local library.  If an activity or expenditure doesn’t immediately benefit the bottom line, don’t bother.

I hope I’m wrong.  

However, I’m taking a closer look at other options.  These include a Massanutten pass (although I prefer Liberty and Whitetail) and that new regional ticket deal being discussed elsewhere here on DCSki.com

Woody

Well said on all points Woody. RFID is of little consequence to help the lines at Lib, Whitetail have lift capacity, not line issues.

Higher prices on food was a certainty in W19/20 with Peak Resorts - they said as much in multile earning calls. Vails presence is not likely to improve this trend but they aren’t quite as greedy as Peak I feel.

The case for a locals only PA or Snowtime pass is strong, Peak had done one in Ohio, but only after a few years of failing to get people to buy in on the more expensive all mountain pass. Vail has one in Tahoe that is well advertised and accessible, so this is something Vail might consider where Peak was trying to play hardball and refuse to entertain. With 5 mountains in PA the case is there.

THIS is EVERYONE at Snowtime properties since Peak purchase: 

Justification of steeper pass prices by the breezy, energetic (and sometimes nonsensical) promotion of benefits I won’t be able to use; e.g., skiing at areas I’ll never visit.  Peak Resorts excelled in this annoying approach to pricing and subsequent marketing.

Peak acted like Hunter and Mt Snow were the Vail and Whistler of the east and a godsend to all mid atlantic skiers, when they most definetely are not and offer little more than a mid atlantic conditions with more vert and much longer drives. Vail now provides locals with legitimate west coast skiing destinations. 

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

The easiest way to see where it’s possible to buy a 1-location season pass at ski areas/resorts owned by VR is to select All Passes on the Epic website and scroll down.  Reading from the bottom up, can see the prices for Stevens Pass, Mt. Brighton, Afton Alps, Wilmot, and Kirkwood.  The range is roughly $400-500.  A pass for Keystone only is $369 and includes a few days at other VR locations in CO.

Hopefully the list of 1-location or regional Epic options will get longer after the Peak Resorts sale is complete.  Seems like a phone call to the contact number of the Epic website asking about getting a 1-location or regional pass for PA couldn’t hurt.  Meaning before the merger is complete in the fall.

4 months ago

Just some thoughts based on what I read above…

 

- I have high hopes for local pricing. Vail has really established a lot of local pass options at other resorts with Epic Local for Colorado, Utah, etc that allow you to ski locally and then get a number of days for a trip somewhere else, all at a discount from the unlimited pass.

- I also have high hopes for the Epic school kids. They again have it for Colorado, Utah, etc and it allows a certain number of days of FREE skiing for kids up to 5th grade and have great gear trade programs. They know the value of getting the brand loyalty ie Amazon and Disney

- In my experience at Breck and Park City, they only use hand RFID scanners at the front side lifts like town lifts, front gondolas etc. They do this so they can make sure that passes aren’t getting… passed since it shows them the pass name, etc. I would fully expect them to add facial recognition, gait recognition, body recognition etc in the future when the tech is there. I also would expect them to add full tracking on your phone via GPS for runs. Expect them to add the Epic photo people to the mountain I think. Epic mix is fun and my group always has a great time boasting/joking about mountain pins earned. I also look forward to the ability to add skiing to my pass from my phone, the night before, etc without waiting in line anywhere.

- If you listen to their podcast, the computer system integration for sales and food offering are often a priority. They go into some great details on how they do aquisitions and understand the Amazon mantra of “build a moat” around their current customers and not worry so much about winning new ones, they will come. I think you might see some more lifts, but I think the food, passes, sales/ticketing and maybe some lifts will be a priority since the ski schools, snowmaking, lights, etc are already pretty solid.

- I see their business model very much like Disney. Some think Disney is extremely expensive. They baulk at $100 a day for all their parks, but are happy with King’s Dominion at $50 a day for a park the size of a large high school that charges extra for certain rides once you enter. Disney charges $1.50 for a bottle of water, $4.99 for a mickey ice cream bar. Not cheap, but not insultingly expensive like competitors. If you want to bring your own water in, sure, but you won’t want to. I bet the amount of time Vail spends studying the value equation on their customers is boggling. They are going to charge what they can, but they are going to leave that last 10% on the table to make sure you feel you got a good value and will come back next time and tell your friends how great it was.I never thought Liberty was that great of a deal even with the night club cards etc considering the restrictions etc.

4 months ago

I just spent last week in Disney with my kids and grandkids.  Bottled water is $3.50.  I agree with your assessment - we had a great time and will go back again.

And  ……. I love those $5 Mickey ice cream bars - hahaha - that was the first thing I purchased last week.

  

4 months ago

haha, how embarrassing, I’ve actually written three books on visiting Disneyworld, you would think that I would know how much the water was… but I guess that was my point, it isn’t so much that I was irritated by it and remember. :)

 

A Mickey bar sure would be good on a hot august day like today…

 

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
4 months ago

Jeremy wrote:

Just some thoughts based on what I read above…

 

- I have high hopes for local pricing. Vail has really established a lot of local pass options at other resorts with Epic Local for Colorado, Utah, etc that allow you to ski locally and then get a number of days for a trip somewhere else, all at a discount from the unlimited pass.

- I also have high hopes for the Epic school kids. They again have it for Colorado, Utah, etc and it allows a certain number of days of FREE skiing for kids up to 5th grade and have great gear trade programs. They know the value of getting the brand loyalty ie Amazon and Disney

 Forgot about Epic School Kids.  Probably because it’s only for Utah, Colorado, and W-B.  That would be huge for the mid-Atlantic and northeast.

It was pretty clear that senior mgmt of Peak Resorts didn’t quite understand how people from DC north and east think about ski trips.  My husband was born and raised in the midwest, MN and around Chicago.  I’m a New Yorker who went to high school near Boston before ending up in NC.  There are times when I can tell he doesn’t really get New England realities even though he worked in CT for a while.  Hopefully the people who will be put in charge of VR locations in the northeast aren’t just from the western states.

Do you think Disneyland and Disney World have slightly different approaches to marketing and guest services?

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
3 months ago

I’ve got my own rough notes about the timeline for Vail Resorts aquisitions, but here’s a neater version.  The only time the U.S. Dept of Justice got involved was in 1997 when VR had to sell Arapahoe Basin, which was bought around the same time as Breck and Keystone.  Note that the first involvement of Apollo is when Vail itself is bought in 1992.  Rob Katz worked for Apollo back then.

https://www.5280.com/2019/08/a-complete-list-of-every-mountain-vail-resorts-has-ever-purchased/

3 months ago

marzNC wrote:

I’ve got my own rough notes about the timeline for Vail Resorts aquisitions, but here’s a neater version.  The only time the U.S. Dept of Justice got involved was in 1997 when VR had to sell Arapahoe Basin, which was bought around the same time as Breck and Keystone.  Note that the first involvement of Apollo is when Vail itself is bought in 1992.  Rob Katz worked for Apollo back then.

https://www.5280.com/2019/08/a-complete-list-of-every-mountain-vail-resorts-has-ever-purchased/

Where it could affect Vail Resorts is in the Northeast. When LBO purchased SKI LTD to become ASC, they forced to sell off 2 resorts. Cranmore and Waterville were sold to Booth Creek in order to satisfy the Justice Department. Whether this happens again is a good question. Can other ownerships challenge it? If I was an owner of a competing area, especially in Ohio or in the Northeast I would. Family owned areas are dying and price of lift tickets continue to rise at corporate owned areas. At some point the Camel’s back has to break to make the sport more affordable and continue to grow it for future generations.
marzNC - DCSki Supporter
3 months ago

padjaski68 wrote:

Where it could affect Vail Resorts is in the Northeast. When LBO purchased SKI LTD to become ASC, they forced to sell off 2 resorts. Cranmore and Waterville were sold to Booth Creek in order to satisfy the Justice Department. Whether this happens again is a good question. Can other ownerships challenge it? If I was an owner of a competing area, especially in Ohio or in the Northeast I would. Family owned areas are dying and price of lift tickets continue to rise at corporate owned areas. At some point the Camel’s back has to break to make the sport more affordable and continue to grow it for future generations.

Was there an multi-resort competitor to ASC when it was created?  Meaning in the same sense that Alterra competes with VR in 2019.

Recently I got curious enough to look at the 1-resort season passes offered at the smaller areas/resorts on Epic.  Those are also the locations with senior rates.  The day ticket prices are higher than before the aquisition by VR, but the season pass prices are comparable to local competitors.  Don’t know those regions (Tahoe, midwest) well enough to guess whether increased crowds at Epic resorts is enough to push locals to alternative areas/resorts.

VR put a lot of money into the three midwest locations bought in 2012 and 2014 to upgrade snowmaking and lifts, as well as renovate base lodges.  That certainly put pressure on competitors to do more than maintain the status quo.  Was Peak Resorts doing the same in the northeast and Ohio?  The total amount of money VR expects to spend on all Peak Resorts is not much compared to what was spent on capital projects in the first year or two at Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, and Wilmot.  But those locations needed more help I think.  Certainly the former Snowtime resorts are in decent shape, as well as Hunter and Mt. Snow.

I only starting paying attention to the ski industry as a hobby a couple years ago.  Very hard to predict what happens next.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
3 months ago

teleman wrote:

The book is a bit dated, but I recommend everyone read Downhill Slide

https://www.amazon.com/Downhill-Slide-Corporate-Industry-Environment/dp/1578051029/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=downhill+slide&qid=1566490934&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Have you read Ski Inc?  It’s been on my reading list but I haven’t gotten to it yet.  Not exactly a big ski section at my local public library. ;-)

https://www.amazon.com/SKI-INC-ski-resort-entrepreneurs-mega-companies-ebook/dp/B01N2X7K6J

Denis - DCSki Supporter
3 months ago
3 months ago

I have not, but the book is on my list.  Currenly reading “snow guns before sunrise”

 

 

Have you read Ski Inc?  It’s been on my reading list but I haven’t gotten to it yet.  Not exactly a big ski section at my local public library. ;-)

https://www.amazon.com/SKI-INC-ski-resort-entrepreneurs-mega-companies-ebook/dp/B01N2X7K6J

 

3 months ago

I ran across this article while doing research on Mount Snow.  An Investor filed a suit to stop the Vale/Peak merger.

https://www.reformer.com/stories/mount-snow-investor-sues-over-merger,583665

Mount Snow investor sues over merger

By Chris Mays, Brattleboro Reformer

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — An investor in Mount Snow’s parent company, Peak Resorts, wants to stop a vote on whether it will merge with Vail Resorts unless more information is disclosed.

John Field’s lawsuit accuses Peak Resorts executives and its board of directors of violating disclosure rules of the United States Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and a Securities Exchange Commission rule regarding statements required by firms when soliciting shareholder votes. It seeks to stop a vote on the proposed $463.6 million transaction, which is anticipated to close this fall.

 

3 months ago

Jeremy wrote:

Just some thoughts based on what I read above…

 

- - In my experience at Breck and Park City, they only use hand RFID scanners at the front side lifts like town lifts, front gondolas etc. They do this so they can make sure that passes aren’t getting… passed since it shows them the pass name, etc.  

 

Two points about the above.

 

1) VR does occasionally use scanners on upper mountain lifts — to catch anyone that is able to get on the mountain and not be scanned on town lifts. It doesn;t happen often, but it does happen.

 

2) The hand scanners that VR uses display more than just the pass holder’s name. They display the pcture of the passholder.

Thus allowing VR to catch a person who is using someone elses pass..

Denis - DCSki Supporter
3 months ago

I have a pacemaker, acquired in 2013, and was concerned that the scanners could reprogram it or otherwise cause problems.  I made a lot of phone calls trying to get information, including to Vail, who of course referred me to someone in the business office who assured me there was no problem.  I doubted they knew $**t about it.  I cautiously began skiing again, wearing the pass on the other (right) side and gesturing and telling the lefties to scan that side.  They did not understand and cared less, waving their scanning guns in figure 8s all over my body.  It turned out not to be a problem.  A bigger concern was my avalanche transceiver.  Neither it’s manufacturer nor my pacemaker manufacturer was willing to venture an opinion.  So I brought it to my annual pacemaker readout appointment in the UCSF cardiac unit where there would be experts who could do a resuscitation if needed.  The technician had me hold the transceiver in various locations and finally directly over the pacemaker.  No problems.  FWIW I insisted on an “MRI safe” pacemaker with shielded leads from the device to the heart.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
3 months ago

Not really any new info, but VT Digger is paying attention to the Federal lawsuit that is intended to stop the vote at a stockholders meeting on Sept. 20, 2019.  The complication stems from preferred stock that is essentially all owned by a trust that benefits members of the Sackler family.  Regular stockholders are to get $11/share, which is about twice the stock price when the merger was announced.

https://vtdigger.org/2019/09/04/investor-seeks-to-stop-vail-acquisition-of-peak-resorts-including-mount-snow/

3 months ago

Denis wrote:

I have a pacemaker, acquired in 2013, and was concerned that the scanners could reprogram it or otherwise cause problems.  I made a lot of phone calls trying to get information, including to Vail, who of course referred me to someone in the business office who assured me there was no problem.  I doubted they knew $**t about it.  I cautiously began skiing again, wearing the pass on the other (right) side and gesturing and telling the lefties to scan that side.  They did not understand and cared less, waving their scanning guns in figure 8s all over my body.  It turned out not to be a problem.  A bigger concern was my avalanche transceiver.  Neither it’s manufacturer nor my pacemaker manufacturer was willing to venture an opinion.  So I brought it to my annual pacemaker readout appointment in the UCSF cardiac unit where there would be experts who could do a resuscitation if needed.  The technician had me hold the transceiver in various locations and finally directly over the pacemaker.  No problems.  FWIW I insisted on an “MRI safe” pacemaker with shielded leads from the device to the heart.

The technology used is the same as used on toll roads where drivers affix a transeiver to the windshields of their cars which allows said drivers to zip down the highways at 70 MPH and not stop to pay tolls. 

 

The tollway aplication uses a significant higher power level as it reads the data from maybe 20 feet away, and by my experieice always reads it perfectly.

The VR application uses a lower power level and it is used everywhere : at hand scanners and on every lift that is Epic Mix equippped. The power level is low enough that it frequently (maybe 5-10% of the time) doesn’t read your pass even though you pass within 4 feet of the scanner at walking speed.

 

If the technology were unsafe, people with pacemakers would be having problems on tollways all the time.  They are not.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
3 months ago

marzNC wrote:

Not really any new info, but VT Digger is paying attention to the Federal lawsuit that is intended to stop the vote at a stockholders meeting on Sept. 20, 2019.  The complication stems from preferred stock that is essentially all owned by a trust that benefits members of the Sackler family.  Regular stockholders are to get $11/share, which is about twice the stock price when the merger was announced.

https://vtdigger.org/2019/09/04/investor-seeks-to-stop-vail-acquisition-of-peak-resorts-including-mount-snow/

Apparently the suit was filed in late August by a Boston area shareholder.  Once the AP and other media outlets put out the story, the word started getting out.  Even an article in the Raleigh N&O earlier this week.  Clearly any news related to Vail Resorts gets picked up as business news well beyond ski country.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
2 months ago

Found a few numbers in the 9/11/2019 SAM article related to the buyout of Peak by VR.  Stockholder meeting to vote is scheduled for 9/20/2019.

https://www.saminfo.com/headline-news/9392-investor-sues-to-stop-vail-acquisition-of-peak-resorts

” …

At $11 per-share, the sale price creates a 116 percent premium for shareholders compared to the share price before the deal was announced. To be finalized, the merger must receive regulatory approval and be approved by two-thirds of the shareholders. Cap 1, a trust of the Sackler family (whose company Purdue Pharma is mired in opioid crisis lawsuits), will largely determine the outcome of the shareholder vote, as it gained 54 percent of Peak’s shares of common stock after loaning the company $50 million in 2018 to buy three Pennsylvania resorts: Liberty, Whitetail and Roundtop. Peak’s board of directors collectively own another 10.5 percent of shares, while two financial institutions control another 11 percent.”

2 months ago

Not on point for the legal action we are talking, but related to the sale…

 

It’s amazing and a testimate to how little attention people pay to this stuff. I’m not heavily involved with ski industry, I am just curious enough each season to keep up on it a little. The people raging on facebook at Liberty is amazing. I think a lot of them have ANY idea that liberty is in the process of a sale to vail. They are going on and on about how they will never go back because the advantage pass and night card discounts are gone, etc. They are raging at peak resorts and don’t seem to understand that litigation aside, peak is out. 

 

Of course, part of this is just “change.” I feel like liberty could double their prices and if they put the night club card discount on that many of those people would be happy because they feel like they are getting a deal. It will be interesting when Vail moves in, I think it might change the landscape a little from people who were looking for daycare during the day or night for teens/etc and those who are looking for things you might normally look for in a ski resort (conditions, terrian, etc).

 

Just a thought.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
2 months ago

Jeremy wrote:

Of course, part of this is just “change.” I feel like liberty could double their prices and if they put the night club card discount on that many of those people would be happy because they feel like they are getting a deal. It will be interesting when Vail moves in, I think it might change the landscape a little from people who were looking for daycare during the day or night for teens/etc and those who are looking for things you might normally look for in a ski resort (conditions, terrian, etc).

Just a thought.

What I’m going to be watching is how Liberty changes over the next 3 years, not just the first season after ownership shifts to VR.  Reading articles written soon after the sale was announced for the three midwest ski areas/resorts was pretty enlightening.  Lots of worrying beforehand.  But once the money VR allocated for improvements was spent, the tone of the local articles shifted quite a bit.  Social media posts are not exactly a random sample of the people who ski at a small mountain, or a large destination resort.

Folks in Australia are in the midst of trying to decide whether to get an Epic Australia Pass or a Thredbo-only pass or Ikon (5/7 days at Threbdo) as a partner as their season winds down.  In 2018 VR bought two more of the ten ski resorts in the country to add to Perisher.  Nothing much changed for the 2019 season but it’s going to have a big impact on the Aussie ski industry in the long run.  Very similar complaints so far.

2 months ago

Jeremy wrote:

Not on point for the legal action we are talking, but related to the sale…

 

It’s amazing and a testimate to how little attention people pay to this stuff. I’m not heavily involved with ski industry, I am just curious enough each season to keep up on it a little. The people raging on facebook at Liberty is amazing. I think a lot of them have ANY idea that liberty is in the process of a sale to vail. They are going on and on about how they will never go back because the advantage pass and night card discounts are gone, etc. They are raging at peak resorts and don’t seem to understand that litigation aside, peak is out. 

 

Well, Liberty users are stuck with what Peak gave them unless/until something different is offered.

2 months ago

Does anyone happen to be a shareholder an know if the vote actually took place today as scheduled or if the lawsuit delayed it?

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
2 months ago

rbrtlav wrote:

Does anyone happen to be a shareholder an know if the vote actually took place today as scheduled or if the lawsuit delayed it?

Looks like it’s a done deal.

9/20/19, about 5pm ET, St. Louis Post Dispatch

https://www.stltoday.com/business/local/peak-resorts-acquisition-approved-by-shareholders-expected-to-close-next/article_82831c3c-dc6f-547a-a2de-d6c66858c093.html

” The acquisition of Wildwood-based Peak Resorts has been approved by shareholders and is expected to close around Sept. 24, the company announced Friday.

…”

 

Here’s the official vote documentation.  Includes the official press release by Peak Resorts.

https://sec.report/Document/0001144204-19-045464/

“PEAK RESORTS SHAREHOLDERS APPROVE MERGER AGREEMENT FOR ACQUISITION BY VAIL RESORTS

Wildwood, Missouri – September 20, 2019 – Peak Resorts, Inc. (Nasdaq: SKIS) (“Peak Resorts” or the “Company”), a leading owner and operator of high-quality, individually branded U.S. ski resorts, today announced that the Company’s shareholders, at a special meeting held today (the “Special Meeting”), approved the merger agreement for the acquisition of the Company by Vail Resorts, Inc. (NYSE: MTN) (“Vail Resorts”). Under the terms of the merger agreement, Peak Resorts’ common shareholders will be entitled to receive $11.00 per share in cash at the closing of the acquisition. The transaction is expected to close on or about September 24, 2019.

Upon completion of the acquisition, Peak Resorts will become privately held as an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Vail Resorts.

According to the final voting results, approximately 89% of the Company’s outstanding shares, as of the close of business on August 19, 2019, the record date, voted in favor of the merger agreement, assuming the conversion of the shares of Series A preferred stock. No shareholder as of the record date has filed with the Company, before or at the Special Meeting, a written objection to the merger that was approved at the Special Meeting.

The consummation of the merger remains subject to the satisfaction or waiver of certain other closing conditions set forth in the merger agreement and discussed in detail in the Definitive Proxy Statement on Schedule 14A filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) by the Company on August 20, 2019, as supplemented by the supplemental disclosures filed with the SEC by the Company on August 29, 2019, September 4, 2019 and September 11, 2019.”

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
2 months ago

Apparently there were two other lawsuits filed before the shareholder vote last Friday.  But obviously didn’t stop the meeting.

https://www.reformer.com/stories/stockholders-approve-peak-vail-merger,585509

” …

Three lawsuits had attempted to block the vote. Peak Resorts considered the suits to be lacking in merit. 

“[H]owever, there can be no assurance that any of the defendants will prevail in any one or more of the lawsuits,” the company wrote in a United States Securities Exchange Commission filing prior to the vote. “The company is not able to estimate any possible loss from this litigation at this time. It is possible that additional lawsuits may be filed in connection with the proposed merger.”“

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
2 months ago

Guess VR and Peak consider the merger deal complete.  People started getting emails today about how to convert a Peak pass to an Epic pass.  Seemed to have thought thru many possible scenarios, including people who bought both Peak and Epic.  Usually that’s because they are in DC and qualified for the Epic Military deal.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
2 months ago

The press release about the VR buyout of Peak Resorts lists the locations in a way that makes the target markets for the Epic pass pretty clear for anyone who looks at a map or knows east coast geography.  Adds locations for NYC/NJ, Boston.  Making a big move for Philadelphia, Washington DC and northern VA, and the metropolitan areas in OH (Cleveland, Columbus, Cinn.), IN (Indiannapolis), and MO (St. Louis).  The “Urban” division only exists in the midwest, from WI, MN, MI in the north for Chicago, Minn./St. Paul, and Detroit/Ann Arbor on south to MO, IN, and east to OH.

http://investors.vailresorts.com/news-releases/news-release-details/vail-resorts-closes-its-acquisition-peak-resorts-adds-17-us-ski

” …

The new resorts in the Northeast are: Mount Snow in Vermont; Hunter Mountain in New York; and Attitash Mountain ResortWildcat Mountain and Crotched Mountain in New Hampshire. They join the Company’s existing Northeast resorts – Stowe Mountain Resortand Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont, and Mount Sunapee Resort in New Hampshire – and together will provide skiers and riders incredible variety and choice in the region. 

In the Mid-Atlantic, the acquired resorts are: Liberty Mountain ResortRoundtop Mountain ResortWhitetail ResortJack Frost and Big Boulder in Pennsylvania.  

In the Midwest, the new resorts are: Alpine ValleyBoston MillsBrandywine and Mad River Mountain in Ohio; Hidden Valley and Snow Creek in Missouri; and Paoli Peaks in Indiana. They join the Company’s other Urban resorts in the Midwest which draw guests from Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis. Those resorts are: Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin; Mt. Brighton in Michigan; and Afton Alps in Minnesota.

…”

When VR bought Afton Alps and Mt. Brighton in 2012, about $25 million was put into the two ski areas in the first couple years for major capital improvements.  A few years later, VR spent $13 million to for upgrade projects at Wilmot for lifts and snowmaking.  The plan for Peak Resorts locations is not as drastic considering the number.  Will be about $25 million but that’s across all 17.  Of course, Snowtime and Peak Resorts have spent millions on snowmaking and other capital projects in the last 5-10 years.  That wasn’t the case for Afton, Brighton, or Wilmot, which were all independent family owned and operated ski areas for decades.

” …

Following today’s closing, Vail Resorts plans to invest approximately $15 million over the next two years in one-time capital spending to elevate the guest experience at these resorts. Additionally, the Company’s annual ongoing capital expenditures are expected to increase by approximately $10 million to support the addition of the new ski areas.

…”

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
2 months ago

Fair to say that the folks who live out west may not care that VR added Peak Resorts locations to Epic.  Or else got over the idea when the merger plan was announced in July.  No media buzz at all the day the VR press release came out.  Perhaps waiting for the 4th Quarter Earnings Report this afternoon.

https://www.vaildaily.com/sports/colorado-sports/vail-resorts-officially-adds-17-peak-resorts-mountains-to-the-epic-pass/ - 9/25/19

I’ll be watching to see if local Epic passholders in Colorado and Tahoe complain this season that there are too many people from the east and midwest.  Those are regions where 1-resort passes or more limited regional Epic passes exist that are less expensive than Epic Local.

one month ago

I called vail resorts today and they said at this point they do not believe the epic pass will be direct to lift at former peak resorts. But there is a 50% discount on vail resorts window tickets if you have a peak pass

one month ago

I upgraded to the Epic Local pass from a Peak pass yesterday and was told by a guy named Greg that it would allow direct to lift at the formerly Peak resorts. It’s hard to imaginge that wouldn’t be the case. 

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
one month ago

dclivejazz wrote:

I upgraded to the Epic Local pass from a Peak pass yesterday and was told by a guy named Greg that it would allow direct to lift at the formerly Peak resorts. It’s hard to imaginge that wouldn’t be the case. 

Could vary by location.  What works at Mt. Snow and Hunter may not work at the Peak PA ski areas or in the midwest.  I rather doubt that most Epic staff live in the mid-Atlantic.

one month ago

I messaged whitetail and they said it should be direct to lift… although the vail rep I talked to after being on hold for an hour said it wouldn’t be. Not being direct to lift is a deal breaker for me and I’m not sure I want to sit on hold with them again to confirm.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
21 days ago

It’s not in the local news yet, but SAM reported on 11/21/19 that VR has decided which former employees of Peak Resorts won’t be continuing as VR employees.  The list includes the GM of Roundtop, Matt Thomas.  Brett Cook will move from being GM of Whitetail to beome GM of Roundtop,  The GM of Liberty, Ann Weimer, is taking over as GM of Whitetail.  These GM changes seem to be effectively immediately.  

Apparently for most employees, their termination date is after the 2019-20 season is over.  The departments impacted are not a surprise: human resources, finance and accounting, IT, health and safety, marketing, operations, real estate, reservations, retail/rental, and sales.  The GM of Mad River Mountain in Ohio is also out of a job.

The changes at Mt. Snow were reported in VT.  The Mt. Snow GM is staying.

https://www.reformer.com/stories/corporate-layoffs-announced-at-mount-snow,590715

Scott - DCSki Editor
21 days ago

A link to the SAM article that describes the staffing changes is here.

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