Vail Resorts announced on Monday, July 22, 2019 its intent to acquire Peak Resorts, setting in motion another seismic shift in the ski industry — and a further round of consolidation that leaves few players in charge of an ever-widening set of ski areas across the United States. Less than a year ago, Pennsylvania’s Liberty Mountain, Roundtop, and Whitetail Resorts changed hands when Irv Naylor’s Snow Time, Inc. was sold to Peak Resorts. Now, all of Peak Resorts’ properties — including 17 ski resorts scattered across the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and New England — will be transferring to Vail Resorts in an all-cash transaction slated to close this Fall, pending antitrust clearance and approval by Peak Resorts shareholders.
“For over 22 years, our team has worked tirelessly to create what is one of the country’s premier ski resort companies,” said Timothy D. Boyd, President and Chief Executive Officer of Peak Resorts.
“We are now delighted to announce this agreement with Vail Resorts that creates substantial value for our shareholders and new opportunities for our guests,” he added.
Vail Resorts has offered $11.00 per share in cash to purchase Peak Resorts, which represents a 116% premium based on Peak Resorts’ closing stock price on July 19, 2019. Not surprisingly, news of the offer caused Peak Resorts stock to more than double on Monday, July 22, 2019, rising 5.75 to close at 10.85 per share. Prior to this, the stock had roughly traded in the range of 3.75-5.30 per share over the past 12 months. At $11 per share, Vail Resorts’ offer is worth approximately $264 million.
“We are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to add such a powerful network of ski areas to our company,” said Rob Katz, Chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts.
“Peak Resorts’ ski areas in the Northeast are a perfect complement to our existing resorts,” he said.
What impact will this sale have on Mid-Atlantic skiers?
Skiers who were outraged by dramatic season pass price increases by Peak Resorts this past Spring will find new options, as the Peak Pass will be transitioning over to Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass.
If the sale completes as planned, existing Epic Passes will be extended to include all Peak Resorts properties. The $699 Epic Local Pass will include unlimited access to Liberty, Roundtop, Whitetail, Breckenridge, Keystone, Wilmot, Okemo, Crested Butte, Mount Snow, Crotched Mountain, and many other ski areas. It will include limited restrictions at Park City, Northstar, Stowe, Heavenly, and Kirkwood. And it will also include 10 holiday-restricted days across Vail, Whistler Blackcomb, and Beaver Creek. That is a substantially better value than the Explorer Peak Pass, which at $849 was slated to cover far fewer properties.
In the short term, there’s likely to be some confusion. What if you already purchased a Peak Pass? Or an Epic Pass? Or both? What if the sale doesn’t go through or is delayed?
The two companies have put together an FAQ that answers some of these questions. For the 2019-2020 winter season, the Peak Pass will remain in effect at former Peak Resorts properties, although passholders will have an option to switch over to an Epic Pass. Details on that process have not been released yet. Existing or future purchasers of the Epic Pass will automatically gain access to all Peak Resorts properties. If you purchased both a Peak Resorts and Epic Pass, you’ll be given an option to receive a refund on your Peak Pass, although the process for that has not yet been announced.
Following the 2019-2020 winter season, the Peak Pass will no longer exist.
While the Epic Pass offers great value for skiers and boarders who plan to visit multiple ski areas across the country, it’s not yet clear whether Vail Resorts will offer a less expensive option for those who prefer only to ski at Pennsylvania resorts. Vail Resorts does offer regional passes in some areas, such as the Summit Value Pass, which provides access to Colorado’s Keystone and Breckenridge Resorts at a lower price than the Epic or Epic Local Passes.
The sale is not expected to close until Fall of 2019, and until it does, there is no guarantee that purchasing an Epic Pass will extend to Peak Resorts properties. In the mid-1990s, when ski area consolidation began occurring in earnest, the Justice Department expressed antitrust concerns. Consolidation has only intensified since then, leading some skiers to worry about decreased competition and ever-increasing lift ticket prices. Ski resorts have argued that consolidation is necessary for individual resorts to prosper in their local markets. The Mid-Atlantic region has over two dozen ski areas, which are currently operated by multiple owners.
M. Scott Smith is the founder and Editor of DCSki. Scott loves outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, kayaking, skiing, and mountain biking. He is an avid photographer and writer.
Unfortunately, the early season specials on Epic passes are long gone. I bought IKON Base Passes for me and the kids--which includes season pass at Snowshoe, and we'll hit spring break at Killington (not to mention tons of places out West), and it was $400 cheaper than the Peak Pass options at the time, as early bird kid IKONs were only $150 with purchase of an adult pass.
Been a Whitetail pass holder for years, and my kids have been doing lessons there weekly for the past 3 years, but I was set to boycott Whitetail, only because the folks at Peak were such A-holes. But now that Vail's purchased, we'll likely visit several days. I doubt any company, Vail included, could be as obnoxious as Peak was.
For our family it was less about the money (though it was part of it), and more about how Peak was a bunch of non-skiers in Missouri who made tone-deaf, ridiculous decisions, and constantly posted on Facebook about their stock price (no other ski company does that). They also were charging premium prices without premium destinations.
So no season pass at Whitetail for us this year, but here's to hoping Epic is as affordable as IKON season after next, and we return as regulars, and hit some slopes out West as well.
Funny Vale wanted snowtime but PEAK was chosen then Peak sells to Vale. The interesting part is the 10k. All say expect lift ticket prices to go up..