What’s New With Muli Resort Season Passes
Once upon a time, ski resorts made a chunky portion of their annual revenue on very expensive season passes. Overall ticket sales might be as much as 50% of a resort’s annual revenues, with season passes comprising as much as 50%. To encourage the purchase of those expensive season passes, resorts would team up with other local, and something not so local, resorts and offer a few reciprocal free days. Taos might add a few free days at Arapahoe Basin, and Arapahoe the same at Taos. As resort ownership shifted from families to corporations, things started to change.
Selecting A Multi Resort Season Pass
There’s been more shuffling in the corporate ski resort industry in the past few years than in a game of three-card monte. So lets get you up to speed. We’ll start by circulating the wagons around with the issuers of the two big multi-resort season passes: Epic and Ikon.
Epic is easy. It’s the pass created by Vail Resorts Inc. Vail Resorts is a public company managing 21 resorts, and working on completing the acquisition of Peak Resorts, which owns or operates 17 ski resorts. By the time you read this, the acquisition is probably complete.
Vail Resort Properties
- Beaver Creek
- Crested Butte
- Park City
- Afton Alps
- Mount Brighton
- Wilmot Mountain
ACQUIRED PEAK RESORTS
- Boston Mills, Ohio
- Brandywine, Ohio
- Hidden Valley Ski Area, Missouri
- Mad River Mountain, Ohio (operator only)
- Paoli Peaks, Indiana
- Snow Creek, Missouri
- Alpine Valley Ski Area, Ohio
- Stevens Pass
- Mount Sunapee, New Hampshire
- Okemo, Vermont
- Stowe, Vermont
ACQUIRED PEAK RESORTS
- Attitash Mountain Resort, New Hampshire
- Crotched Mountain, New Hampshire
- Mount Snow, Vermont
- Wildcat Mountain Ski Area, New Hampshire
- Mount Brighton, Michigan
ACQUIRED PEAK RESORTS
- Big Boulder, Pennsylvania
- Ski Roundtop, Pennsylvania
- Whitetail Ski Resort, Pennsylvania
- Liberty Mountain Resort, Pennsylvania
- Hunter Mountain, New York
- Jack Frost Ski Resort, Pennsylvania
- Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
- Perisher, Perisher Valley, Australia
- Falls Creek, Bogong High Plains, Victoria, Australia
- Hotham, Mount Hotham, Victoria, Australia
Vail Epic passes, depending on the type, offer unlimited skiing at all or some of their resorts. Their Epic Pass offers unlimited and unrestricted skiing at all their owned resorts. Their Local Pass does something similar. The lower-priced Local Pass offers unlimited, unrestricted skiing at Breckinridge, Keystone, and Crested Butte in Colorado. The same for Okemo and Mount Sunapee in New England. The same for their midwestern resorts Wilmot, Mt Brighton and Afton Alps; and Washington State’s Steven’s Pass. The Local Pass throws in unlimited restricted skiing (blacked out holidays) at Park City, Stowe, Heavenly Valley, Northstar, and Kirkwood. Vail’s premier resorts, Vail, Beaver Creek, and Whistler Blackcomb can be skied for a total of 10, holiday restricted days.
Both passes throw in extra days at Sun Valley in Idaho and Snowbasin in Utah. Five days for the Epic Pass and 2 days for the Local Pass. Five days each at Hakuba Valley and Rusutsu in Japan. The Epic Pass adds in seven (7) days at Telluride, and seven (7) total days across the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (Fernie, Kimberley, Stoneham, Kicking Horse, Nakiska and Mount-Sainte Anne. The Epic Pass also throws in ski days, with restrictions, at 19 European resorts at Skirama Dolomoti (Italy) Les 3 Vallees (France), and 4 Vallees (Switzerland).
For a complete comparison click ____________.
Origins of Alterra Mountain Company
The next big kahuna in the multi resort season pass space are the folks behind the Ikon Pass. The Ikon Pass has more eclectic origins. It may be easiest to look at the four major contributors, essentially the owners, of the Ikon Pass major ski resorts: The Aspen Skiing Company, Henry Crown and Partners, KSL Partners and Altera Mountain Company.
The Aspen Skiing Company
The Aspen Skiing Company (aka “Ski Co”) owns and operates Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk. The ownership history is rich and includes Twentieth Century Fox, their controlling shareholders Rupert Murdock and Marvin Davis. Today it’s owned by the Crown Family from Chicago. Their business is Henry Crown and Company.
Henry Crown and Company
Fun fact: what does Aspen and the Empire State building have in common. They were both owned by Henry Crown. Henry Crown also owned General Dynamics. Today, much of the family holdings are in Henry Crown and Company. The business invests in a variety of companies and industries including sports teams (Chicago Bulls and New York Yankees), ski resorts (Aspen Skiing Company), banking (JP Morgan), industrial (General Dynamics), and real estate (Rockefeller Center). The one we care about here is the Aspen Skiing Company. They own it.
KSL is a private equity fund focused in the travel and leisure industry. They own, operate, lend to, and manage resort properties. They’ve raised and invested around $10 billion. As an investment vehicle, KSL had the experience and chops for going after large resort properties and resort companies. Historically, KSL Partners was not primarily focused on ski resorts, although along the way they acquired Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows; and a minority interest in Whistler Blackcomb. However, a bunch of their executive team including their Chairman, CEO and their head of strategy used to work for Vail Resorts. So when the time and opportunity aligned they were ready to leap.
KSL Partners & Henry Crown and Company Buy Intrawest
Remember Intrawest? They owned a bunch of resorts including Blue Mountain (Ontario), Snowshoe Mountain (West Virginia), Steamboat Ski Resort (Colorado), Stratton Mountain Resort (Vermont), Mont Tremblant Resort (Quebec), Canadian Mountain Holidays (Alberta), Winter Park (Colorado), Deer Valley Resort (Utah), Mammoth Mountain (California), and Copper Mountain (Colorado). They also had once owned Whistler Blackcomb (British Columbia), Copper Mountain (Colorado), Les Arcs 1950 (France), and Panorama Mountain Village (British Columbia).
Flush with raised capital in 2017 KSL and Aspen Skiing Co went on a buying spree. They purchase Intrawest, then mammoth Resorts (Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain, Snow Summit and Bear Mountain) and Deer Valley. Then they aggregated all the non-Aspen Skiing Co properties into the newly created Alterra Mountain Company. Then the Aspen Skiing Co and a few partners agreed to participate in their newly created multi-resort season pass, called Ikon. Now they’re Vail Resorts’ biggest competitor.
Alterra Mountain Company
Altera Mountain Company Is owned by KSL Capital Partners and Aspen/Snowmass.
Altera resorts include:
- Winter Park Resort
- Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
- Mammoth Mountain
- June Mountain
- Big Bear Mountain Resort
- Blue Mountain
- CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures
- Deer Valley
Aspen Skiing Company resorts include:
- Aspen Highlands
- Aspen Mountain
Altera also added 14 partner destination to participate in their Ikon Pass. Click here for all locations and restrictions.
Once upon a time Powdr owned Park City and was rumored to be looking at expanding their ski resort holdings. The family that owns Powdr also owns Snowbird, although Snowbird is not listed as a Powdr asset.
Today they may be best known as the owner and operator of the Woodward Camps. Summer and winter camp programs for skateboarding, gymnasts, cheer, scooter, parkour, skiing and snow boarding.
Woodward has six locations. Los Angeles (Tehachapi), Pennsylvania (Woodward – near Penn State), Colorado (Copper Mountain), Lake Tahoe (Boreal), Mexico (Puerto Aventuras), and Utah (Park City).
If your kid aspires to participate in an extreme or hyper competitive active sport, they know Woodward.
Powdr As A Force in Ski Resorts
As a force in ski resorts, Powdr has some catching up to do. It’s a bit unclear as to where this organization will head. Given the high powered nature of their competition, they may be a bit hesitant to do battle with the big boys.
That said, the Cummings family owns Snowbird. They also purchased Human Movement, an events company focused on active entertainment. With Woodward and Human Movement, Powdr may have better insight into what people want to do in the Mountains than anyone else. If they find it involves spending money at ski resorts, they may get back in the game. If they ever get their hands on Alta, new game. Own Mecca and all pilgrims come to you.
From a multi resort pass perspective, 2019 / 2020 Powdr appears to have tossed in its Colorado and Utah resorts into the Vail’s Epic Pass program.
- Soda Springs
- Copper Mountain
- El Dora