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Vail's world dominance tour, next stop: Peaks Resorts

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2 hours ago, Machski said:

But with an ever growing portfolio, Vail is going to be hard pressed to make resort infrastructure investment capital stretch over all their areas.  Vail has shown zero interest in upgrading lifts at it's New England resorts it has owned (granted, it sounds as though the planning for West Bowl at Sunapee is progressing though groundbreaking is not imminent).  They did jump on upgrading lifts this summer at recently acquired Stevens Pass in WA but with Crystal fully Ikon, they had to as Steven's lift system is aged compared to Crystal.  We all agree probably the most pressing lift upgrade is the Attitash Summit Triple.  If Vail is going to invest, that should be target one and penned in for next summer.  Time will tell.

Agreed. We'll all be watching closely to see what they do for sure. I can easily see them neglecting the east coast resorts from a capital expenditure perspective. How they handle the Attitash Summit chair will be a big indicator of how much they really care about their eastern properties.

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On 7/22/2019 at 8:46 AM, Benski said:

I am guessing Ikon add Windham to match Hunter. I am surprised Windham is still independent. Maybe Belleayre will join Ikon, they could use the publicity, but would probably drive less traffic to other Ikon resorts.

I'm surprised people actually buy passes to Windham. Over $1300 for an adult pass is insane for a single resort in the Catskills with probably the least interesting terrain in the Cats. And unless things have changed since I was last there, they always drew a good crowd on weekends. So it isn't like you can say you're paying a premium to avoid crowds.

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I don't think Jay needs to worry... the place is as crowded as ever. How much does adding Peaks areas hurt Jay? Different demographics. I'd be in for Epic or Ikon if either took over Jay. But I hopeful it stays independent. Jay has a great culture and I fear Epic or Ikon ownership would cripple part of what makes the mountain great.

Cannon has been keeping pass prices lower lately and they seem to be increasing guest numbers (or at least it has felt that way to me in recent years). I think they'll be okay. I actually went in for NH state pass which is my first time ever having a Cannon pass despite the area being nearly my most skied mountain (just a few days behind Jay).

Waterville had issues before the mega pass wars so I think it could definitely hurt them more than most. I think Bretton will be fine, they aren't hurting for numbers. The biggest loser could be Ikon in a zero sum game for those that want multi-mountain passes.

For the multi-passes, Jay/Burke isn't really a multi-pass. It is a Jay pass with a Burke add on for those that are interested. That is how I see it any ways. WMSP has never made financial sense, how many of those are actually sold? B&B for Cannon/Bretton has always been a good value for mid-week skiers, that pass is cheap enough for those into that type of combo. Freedom Pass is in an entirely different market, no impact for them at all I don't think. 

Regarding the Attitash summit lift, can Epic cannibalize lifts at any of their other mountains? Do they have any new lifts that could result in sending an older lift in good condition to Attitash?

Someone mentioned the idea of Forerunner at Stowe going to HS6 and moving the Quad to Attitash. That seems like a win, win to me.

 

Curious what you think might happen with Jay that will turn you off if it gets gobbled up. Jay's kinda already gotten the whole Disneyland treatment already. More snowmaking and grooming?

 

More snowmaking and grooming is definitely my great concern for Wildcat. Shortening the season is also a concern. Cat is probably the most "raw" 2k vert ski area in the East after MRG. Though I suppose Jay probably ties Cat. Both a distant second to MRG. Cat only makes snow and grooms about half the trails. I fear Vail turns trails like Upper Wildcat and all of Gondiline into man made boulevards. End of the day, I'm not too worried. Looking at the Vail portfolio, Wildcat is probably near the very bottom of their list for investment targets that will produce substantial ROI. As long as we keep our roughly 11/10 to 5/1 season with minimal manicuring of the slopes, I'll likely remain happy and not consider change. Where I live, the only reasonable option for change is Cannon. I've considered it many times, but fewer crowds and less grooming keeps me loyal to Cat.

 

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12 minutes ago, deadheadskier said:

 

More snowmaking and grooming is definitely my great concern for Wildcat.

 

 

They will blast the rocks out of Al's and the liftline trails to groom the shit out of them lol

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1 hour ago, deadheadskier said:

Someone mentioned the idea of Forerunner at Stowe going to HS6 and moving the Quad to Attitash. That seems like a win, win to me.

 

Curious what you think might happen with Jay that will turn you off if it gets gobbled up. Jay's kinda already gotten the whole Disneyland treatment already. More snowmaking and grooming?

 

More snowmaking and grooming is definitely my great concern for Wildcat. Shortening the season is also a concern. Cat is probably the most "raw" 2k vert ski area in the East after MRG. Though I suppose Jay probably ties Cat. Both a distant second to MRG. Cat only makes snow and grooms about half the trails. I fear Vail turns trails like Upper Wildcat and all of Gondiline into man made boulevards. End of the day, I'm not too worried. Looking at the Vail portfolio, Wildcat is probably near the very bottom of their list for investment targets that will produce substantial ROI. As long as we keep our roughly 11/10 to 5/1 season with minimal manicuring of the slopes, I'll likely remain happy and not consider change. Where I live, the only reasonable option for change is Cannon. I've considered it many times, but fewer crowds and less grooming keeps me loyal to Cat.

 

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Well, as far as I can tell both Crested Butte and Kirkwood do not have machine made and groomed boulevards cut into their epic terrain outside of what they had from Vail.  Same at Whistler.  I would think Vail would leave the Cat as is and rough (maybe clean up the base lodge though).  If they want groomerville polished they can do that to Attitash.  I don't think the Front Four + has been bulldozed at Stowe or had more snowmaking added than what was already there.

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I don't think it makes much sense comparing East vs West. They make snow on like 20% of skiable terrain out west and groom about 50-60% of terrain nightly. In the East those numbers are more like 80 and 70.

Almost any other typical Eastern ski area, these major trails at Cat would have snowmaking and grooming

Upper Wildcat
Lower Wildcat
Lift Lion
Top Cat
Black Cat
Catenary
Cougar
Tomcat Schuss
Panther

The only major trails that wouldn't are

Starr Line
Al's
Hairball
Feline

So, the potential is there that Vail drastically can change how the mountain skis. But as mentioned before, I do think Cat will be very low on the totem pole for investment.

I will bet dollars to donuts that the entirety of the Wildcat trail gets snowmaking and grooming and becomes a tame cruiser within the next five years. It will join Polecat, Lynx and Catapult as signature top to bottom groomed cruisers. Lift Lion / Black Cat won't be far behind.

Hope I'm wrong

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I'm hopeful that this news pushed more of the independents to rally together.
For next yr I'm buying an Indy Pass as well as a bunch of vouchers through various means. Will not have a traditional season pass but rather chase variety/snow as I like crowd avoidance and being able to ski different mtns with my 2 young boys.
With a young family we place a premium on having uncrowded lodges, low/zero lift lines, and parking that doesn't require a shuttle bus.

This is a pretty nice little collection that I'm hoping grows by another mtn or 2 for New England.
I can definitely see myself getting 2 days in at Pats/Magic/S6/Bolton at minimum with a possible Berkshire East/Catamount trip as well.

I'd like to see Black NH/Tenney/Middlebury/Granite Gorge consider jumping on this pass...they could raise the price up to $399 and add more mtns and I think it could be fairly popular.

http://www.indyskipass.com/

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Someone on another forum asked if this means "No more Sacklers".
My response:
It means they probably just more than doubled whatever money they had invested into Peaks. Vail is buying out everything at $11/share, what I can see online says the Sacklers acquired their shares on 11/21/2018. Ticker prices that day range between $5.03 and $5.07... Depending on who they acquired it from and how, that price may not even be in the ballpark of what they spent, but it gives you a good idea.

So, yeah, they're gone from the ski business, but they're laughing their asses off all the way to the bank.

Back of envelope math:

Total outstanding Peaks resorts shares: 15,166,000
Sacklers own 53%: approx 8,037,980 shares
Assume a $5.05/share buy in: $40,591,799
Selling at $11/share: $88,417,780

Profit (before taxes, fees, etc.): $47,825,981
 
Here's the rest of the math. You pretty much nailed it. https://www.forbes.com/sites/angelauyeung/2019/07/22/oxycontins-sackler-family-will-get-millions-from-a-ski-resort-operators-sale/

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1 hour ago, Smellytele said:

What will happen to the race league at the crotch?


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I'd be surprised if there are any changes there---not sure why Vail would meddle so much in that level of detail but I suppose ya never know.
We have options though (Pats) if need be

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On 7/23/2019 at 12:05 AM, Machski said:

I would tend to agree on Okemo but not Stowe.  Forerunner should have been replaced from the old original HSQ to a HSS so I do not believe from a capacity standpoint Stowe's main mountain lift system is all that good.  And the lookout double, well that had a nice rope evac this past season that lasted hours.

I believe that Forerunner was replaced a year or two before Vail and do they even use Lookout regularly? It looks very redundant being so close to Forerunner. Do they even use Lookout?

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19 hours ago, thesnowway said:

Waterville had issues before the mega pass wars so I think it could definitely hurt them more than most. I think Bretton will be fine, they aren't hurting for numbers. The biggest loser could be Ikon in a zero sum game for those that want multi-mountain passes.

Spent time at WV a couple times last season.  Stayed overnight once.  I was impressed based on my experience at several places in NH/ME in the last few years.  From what I could tell midweek, with the addition of Green Peak, there are a fair number of people who will be perfectly happy to continue getting a season pass to WV.  Certainly has the best midweek program for seniors around.  And many of them are clearly grandparents who have children and grandchildren who are regulars on weekends.

WV is a full fledged 4-season resort.  Not that obvious to a day tripper who drives up the mountain and never sees the "village."  With the terrain expansion, a slow triple that won't get too crowded on weekends, and an expanded lodge that is designed for warm weather events, not a place that I worry about going under any time soon.

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19 minutes ago, Benski said:

I believe that Forerunner was replaced a year or two before Vail and do they even use Lookout regularly? It looks very redundant being so close to Forerunner. Do they even use Lookout?

Yes they use it. Machski pointed out a scenario last year where it was used and had a problem and took hours to evac...

There are times that the Forerunner is on wind hold but they can still run the double. It definitely shouldn't just be ignored as a "redundant" lift. It becomes quite an important lift when Forerunner is down for any reason. It could also potentially help ease crowding on Forerunner as it does serve a lot of the same terrain. (However being a slow, old double, many people don't use it even if it is running).

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Anyone read this article about Afton Alps?  Written in 2018, six years after Afton was bought by Vail Resorts.  One of three family-owned areas/resorts that were bought to put Epic in front of people in Chicago, Detroit/Ann Arbor, or Minn/St. Paul.  Still possible to get a single location season pass for those three places.

https://www.powder.com/stories/vail-bought-hometown-hill-heres-happened/

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18 hours ago, deadheadskier said:

More snowmaking and grooming is definitely my great concern for Wildcat. Shortening the season is also a concern.

I got a feeling you may be rite about the snow making and grooming, but I don't think the season will get shorter. Vail is extending the season at Keystone and Breckenridge next year and kept the season the same length at Okemo and Stowe. I think they just have a lot of resorts with layouts and elevations that put them at a disadvantage

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55 minutes ago, Benski said:

I got a feeling you may be rite about the snow making and grooming, but I don't think the season will get shorter. Vail is extending the season at Keystone and Breckenridge next year and kept the season the same length at Okemo and Stowe. I think they just have a lot of resorts with layouts and elevations that put them at a disadvantage

Vail is only doing the Keystone/Breck season bookend change because they are loosing the ABasin tie in on the Epic.  ABasin gave Epic the longest season in Colorado, something Vail has seen has had traction with the local market.  They were not willing to cede that niche.  Hopefully they will see the value in Wildcat's late season product with a great setup (single lift serves all terrain ).  Early season at Mount Snow I'm not so sure about.  Time will tell on both.

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21 hours ago, deadheadskier said:

Curious what you think might happen with Jay that will turn you off if it gets gobbled up. Jay's kinda already gotten the whole Disneyland treatment already. More snowmaking and grooming?

Jay has crowded up a bit due to the base build out, no doubt. But I have found that all the base area amenities have not changed the culture of the mountain much at all. The place still has warts and is funky and nothing works together but it all still works together in its own weird way. Hard to describe.

Jay's culture is pretty damned unique. It may be the only major area left in New England that will put signs out giving direction and advice to skinners and all but giving us free reign over the mountain unless they have snowmaking or grooming operations happening. And if so, they just post a sign saying "have fun, just avoid xxx". It is a more liberal skinning policy than MRG which recently had to put restrictions on skinning during operations due to its narrow trails and risk of collisions. I don't see JPSP giving us the same freedom if Vail (or another mega resort company) came in and installed their people and or procedures.

Jay also has one of the most lenient rope dropping policies around, right up there with MRG and Magic. Again, I don't see that staying the same with a big name buy out.

Beyond that, the people could change as well. People that may never have bothered with Jay might as well make their way up their with a multi mountain pass. Could change the culture, maybe.

Some additional snow making and grooming might result. Jay is a rough mountain from an intermediate's perspective and Jay could take out some glades to add in more intermediate runs. Hopefully it wouldn't ever come to that. Thankfully the Orchard was spared that treatment, though they had a plan for it. The six pack got put on hold. I wouldn't mind the Six Pack, though. Many of my best days at Jay were lapping the Jet and hiking to the top of the Bonnie, wind holds at Jay are amazing days.

Any ways, long story short, Jay looks like Disneyland on paper but is still a PITA mountain with warts that I find endearing.

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3 hours ago, MarzNC said:

Spent time at WV a couple times last season.  Stayed overnight once.  I was impressed based on my experience at several places in NH/ME in the last few years.  From what I could tell midweek, with the addition of Green Peak, there are a fair number of people who will be perfectly happy to continue getting a season pass to WV.  Certainly has the best midweek program for seniors around.  And many of them are clearly grandparents who have children and grandchildren who are regulars on weekends.

WV is a full fledged 4-season resort.  Not that obvious to a day tripper who drives up the mountain and never sees the "village."  With the terrain expansion, a slow triple that won't get too crowded on weekends, and an expanded lodge that is designed for warm weather events, not a place that I worry about going under any time soon.

I live down the road from the Valley, I am very familiar with the area. It has seen a steady decline since its glory days. It needs a significant investment in cash to fix neglected infrastructure issues. There are lots of people that have grown up or spent their entire lives vacationing there and there is a significant condo build up of Valley second home owners. Those folks are invested and are not going away, but they are starting to age out. Waterville needs new blood badly to replace its current base. That is true across the entire industry but especially true at Waterville. It isn't going under any time sooner, I agree. But I think it is the most vulnerable major NH area to competition from the multi-mountain pass options.

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Since quite a few of the Ikon destinations are partners not likely to be interested in being purchase by Alterra, could it make more sense to just add Jay as a partner?  Of course, the fact that Jay actively looking for a buyer makes it an obvious target.

What about Bretton Woods as an Ikon partner?  Do BW regulars also take a trip out west?

I'd be happy if Jiminy Peak would join some multi-resort pass as a partner.  I heard a fair amount of talk on the lifts about trips to big resorts out west.  As a Wyndham owner, I'm aware that there are Wyndham resorts at Steamboat and Park City.  Jiminy locals would probably be happy with either Ikon or Epic.

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7 minutes ago, thesnowway said:

I live down the road from the Valley, I am very familiar with the area. It has seen a steady decline since its glory days. It needs a significant investment in cash to fix neglected infrastructure issues. There are lots of people that have grown up or spent their entire lives vacationing there and there is a significant condo build up of Valley second home owners. Those folks are invested and are not going away, but they are starting to age out. Waterville needs new blood badly to replace its current base. That is true across the entire industry but especially true at Waterville. It isn't going under any time sooner, I agree. But I think it is the most vulnerable major NH area to competition from the multi-mountain pass options.

Does the IndyPass make any sense for WV?  The list so far includes Magic, Bolton, Pat's Peak.  Since a few places relatively close to DC are on the IndyPass, there are some folks getting curious about the IndyPass locations in New England.

Even if not that many people use something like the IndyPass or the Powder Alliance, just being on the list means more people hear the name.  I'd never heard of WV before seeing their booth at the Boston Ski Expo.  Only went because I had another reason to be in Boston that weekend.  In Nov 2018, WV had a huge booth.

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Jay has crowded up a bit due to the base build out, no doubt. But I have found that all the base area amenities have not changed the culture of the mountain much at all. The place still has warts and is funky and nothing works together but it all still works together in its own weird way. Hard to describe.
Jay's culture is pretty damned unique. It may be the only major area left in New England that will put signs out giving direction and advice to skinners and all but giving us free reign over the mountain unless they have snowmaking or grooming operations happening. And if so, they just post a sign saying "have fun, just avoid xxx". It is a more liberal skinning policy than MRG which recently had to put restrictions on skinning during operations due to its narrow trails and risk of collisions. I don't see JPSP giving us the same freedom if Vail (or another mega resort company) came in and installed their people and or procedures.
Jay also has one of the most lenient rope dropping policies around, right up there with MRG and Magic. Again, I don't see that staying the same with a big name buy out.
Beyond that, the people could change as well. People that may never have bothered with Jay might as well make their way up their with a multi mountain pass. Could change the culture, maybe.
Some additional snow making and grooming might result. Jay is a rough mountain from an intermediate's perspective and Jay could take out some glades to add in more intermediate runs. Hopefully it wouldn't ever come to that. Thankfully the Orchard was spared that treatment, though they had a plan for it. The six pack got put on hold. I wouldn't mind the Six Pack, though. Many of my best days at Jay were lapping the Jet and hiking to the top of the Bonnie, wind holds at Jay are amazing days.
Any ways, long story short, Jay looks like Disneyland on paper but is still a PITA mountain with warts that I find endearing.
All valid concerns and ones I share for Wildcat. Wildcat is very liberal with rope dropping and extremely lenient with rope ducking. That used to be the case at Stowe back in the day. It already started changing long before Vail got involved, but I'm told these days they've gotten really tight with both.

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2 hours ago, deadheadskier said:

All valid concerns and ones I share for Wildcat. Wildcat is very liberal with rope dropping and extremely lenient with rope ducking. That used to be the case at Stowe back in the day. It already started changing long before Vail got involved, but I'm told these days they've gotten really tight with both.

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Dude, if ski patrol actually enforces things at Wildcat I will flip my shit. They epitomize the boundary to boundary policy. I can't even imagine what happens if they seriously enforce no access to the brook. Incomprehensible.

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On 7/23/2019 at 7:10 PM, cdskier said:

Agreed. We'll all be watching closely to see what they do for sure. I can easily see them neglecting the east coast resorts from a capital expenditure perspective. How they handle the Attitash Summit chair will be a big indicator of how much they really care about their eastern properties.

Found comments from the Pres./GM of Attitash about the plan for the summit triple for 2019-20 in a Conway, NH article about the change for Peak Resorts.

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

" . . .

Concerning repairs to the Summit Triple, Lowell said they are planned for fall.

"We will resume work on the repairs immediately after Labor Day when the summer crowds disperse," Lowell said Monday. "It would be unsafe to have work going on now while we have attractions and families wandering near the work areas. The rebuilt pieces will be delivered the last week of August so we can begin to get organized with heavy equipment to place the pieces back into the motor room and raise the bull wheel.

"Everything is going as planned, and I am confident the summit triple will be ready for the start of the upcoming season. We have also done a near-complete rebuild of the Flying Yankee this spring. We are installing a new drive in the Abenaki lift and have done extensive work on the Flying Bear. Our lift maintenance staff have been working extremely hard this spring and summer and will continue to do whatever prudent to make our lifts reliable and safe for this season and seasons to come."

 

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On 7/24/2019 at 5:47 PM, MarzNC said:

What about Bretton Woods as an Ikon partner?  Do BW regulars also take a trip out west?

I think a LOT of the BW crowd are people without passes.  They have done a great job increasing traffic with their "seasonal rental program" with local ski shops.  Kids rent skis for the season (<$150) and it comes with a free BW pass.  Parents then do trips up there a few weekends/year.  Based on the crowds there on the weekends and holiday weeks, I don't see there being an incentive to participate in a bigger collective.

My family does the WMSP because we have a place in Lisbon and Cannon conditions can sometimes suck (ice, wind, etc), so having BW as an option is worth the extra $300.  I also suck in the trees so I like the BW glades ☺️

 

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