The huge American multi-ski-resort operating success Vail Resorts which owns 11 ski areas in California, Colorado, Utah and the Midwest and which last year purchased Australia’s largest ski area, Perisher, is reported to be considering expanding its operations on to a third continent, asia, and also possibly closer to home with its first purchase north of the border in Canada – where the US dollar has significantly increased its buying power in recent years.
Interviewed ahead of the start of the Australian 2016 ski season next month, Vail’s CEO Rob Katz (Pictured below) said that business in to the US was down from all international markets except for Australia because of the strong dollar. He said that the purchase of Perisher, and the introduction of the group’s Epic Pass there (which allows season ticket holders to ski at any of the company’s US resorts and other partner resorts around the world, as well as Perisher itself, on any day, for one payment), had led to double digit growth in visitors from Australia and Mr Katz added that the country was now the largest international incoming market for Vail Resorts in the US.
Mr Katz also said that Vail were now looking to buy more resorts with possible acquisitions in Canada and Japan “a higher priority.” He said Vail had also looked at resorts in China, including the country’s two most popular winter sports regions, Harbin in the far North East and outside Beijing.
Vail, the world’s second largest ski resort operator after the French Compagnie des Alpes, which operates more than a dozen French resorts including most of the big players such as Chamonix, Les Arcs and La Plagne, is not the first big multi-resort owning group to buy ski resorts outside the borders of the country where they started.
The once giant ski resort operator Intrawest, originally Canadian but now based in the US, bought around a dozen resorts at its peak a decade ago including leading ski areas in the US, France (where it founded Arc 1950 at Les Arcs) and even ran a snowdome in Madrid, Spain. Prior to that one of Japan’s leading companies before the economic crash their operated resorts on three continents including Tignes in France and Heavenly (pictured above – now Vail owned) in the US. And currently Scandinavian operator Skistar, which had interests in a defunct project in India and was also involved with a ski area expansion in Switzerland, has now bought St Johann in the Austrian Tirol.
Vail Resorts are valued at $5 billion on the New York stock exchange.