They did it again.
In a classic Vail move, the company yesterday announced the addition of Stowe Mountain, one of New England’s premier destinations for skiing and riding, to the Epic roll call–one that now contains an unprecedented ten resorts in North America and one resort, Perisher, in Australia.
The $50 million acquisition also finally puts Vail on the map in the densely populated East Coast, which should prove to be hugely successful for the company. Vail has a track record of success with its acquisitions and this doesn’t appear to be so different.
So is Vail taking over the world? Yes.
Is it so bad? Not really.
I happen to work within the behemoth’s stomach.
I’m not at it’s epicenter in Vail, but I’m just down the road at Keystone Resort. Before joining the Epic universe, I was highly critical of Vail’s relentless death march through every ski town that was hell bent on ruining the lives of everyone. The Mom & Pop resorts were, in my eyes, getting squashed like bugs.
Needless to say, since working for the company some of my opinions have changed. For starters, Keystone and Stowe aren’t exactly mom & pop resorts, and contrary to popular belief, ski resorts aren’t exactly raking in the dough; most make their existence possible through ski lessons and real estate. Vail’s purchase just stabilizes the financial roller coaster that running a ski hill is.
So here’s what this acquisition will change at Stowe.
Approximately nothing, but you might save some money. The numbers haven’t come out yet and technically the acquisition won’t take place until later this spring, but since last year’s full EpicPass was right around $800, you’re going to save about, oh, $1000 on your pass to Stowe. Yes, a season pass just to Stowe if you bought it before November 6th cost $1860. Holy mother of God.
For $800-ish you can ski ten resorts in North America? Someone please tell me why every American doesn’t ski. I can use my one pass to skirt down the road real quick to ski Vail’s Blue Sky Basin on a powder day, take an 8 hour drive to rip both Park City and Canyons, use my miles to hit Heavenly tree runs in Lake Tahoe, or say goodbye to reality for a while and disappear in Whistler-Blackcomb’s ridiculous snowfall. And that doesn’t even tip the iceberg. So when I go visit my friend in Boston, we can take a trip to Stowe, too? Fan-freaking-tastic.
Maybe some verbage will change here and there and Stowe’s employees will be tirelessly bludgeoned with Vail’s mission to create an “Experience of a Lifetime” until that tagline is bleeding out of their eyes. But really, if you’re going to one of Vail’s resorts, chances are you going to have an experience of a lifetime. There’s a reason Rob Katz (Vail’s CEO) does these things. Also, like any large, or behemoth Vail-sized company, things move a little more slowly. We still use paper time cards at Keystone and composting hasn’t exactly caught on around campus. You give up certain things for stability, but there shouldn’t be many visible changes.
Overall I’m excited about the future for Stowe and New England.
The pass price should, if all goes as I see it, drop dramatically, which will make skiing even that much more accessible, and if you’re living in the East, you can actually take that trip out West you’ve always dreamed about (maybe to Vail) without selling your kidney. The skiing will be affordable that is, if you want a place to stay, though, I wish you the best of luck! Happy trails!
To read the press release from Vail Resorts, click here