Colorado ski co. doubles down on $2bn-per year industry

04 Mar 2019

US-based Vail Resorts Inc. has purchased two Victoria ski fields – Falls Creek and Hotham – in a $174 million deal. Subject to regulatory approval, the purchase will include ski schools, retail establishments and property management at the two resorts.

The purchase adds to Vail Resorts’ portfolio in Australia. The company acquired the Snowy Mountains’ Perisher resort in 2015 for A$177 million, and has since invested heavily in snow-making facilities that ensure the resort stays open through the school holidays period.

The company plans to increase capital investment in its Australian ski fields to A$4–5 million per year.

'Vail Resorts has a great track record in developing world-class resorts,’ says Nick Mackanzie, Managing Director of Merlin Entertainments – the company selling the Falls Creek and Hotham ski fields.

‘We are confident that guests, employees and the surrounding communities … will benefit from Vail Resorts’ expertise, investment and know-how.’

According to Chairman and Chief Executive of Vail Resorts, Rob Katz, the company’s strategy is to broaden the appeal of the flagship Victoria ski resorts. 

‘After our success connecting with skiers in Sydney and across New South Wales since acquiring Perisher, we have a huge opportunity to create a deeper connection with Melbourne and … Victorian skiers,’ he says.

The company’s marketing strategy includes selling loyalty passes that cover multiple ski fields, including in the United States and Canada. The Australian ski industry is currently worth $2 billion per year.

Spread across 450 hectares, Falls Creek is Victoria’s largest alpine resort. It currently hosts 90 runs for beginner, intermediate and advanced-level skiers, as well as lodging properties, restaurants, bars and nightlife.

Hotham is famous for its off-piste skiing. The acclaimed ‘powder capital’ of Australia, Hotham is the only resort in the Southern Hemisphere with a mountain-top resort, enabling ski-in, ski-out stays.

Vail Resorts is a fast-growing mountain resorts and property-management group. Founded in 1997 and head-quartered in Colorado, it owns and operates 19 mountain resorts, including the original Vail Ski Resort in the United States and Whistler Blackcomb in Canada.