The ski industry revealed shocking news last week as an alliance between KSL Capital Partners, owners of Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows and Aspen Skiing Co. announced the acquisition of Intrawest Resorts for $1.5 billion. (link: ) The investment group will include the two Lake Tahoe resorts in addition to Mammoth Mountain, Steamboat, Winter Park and a number of other U.S. ski resorts.
This acquisition provides competition for Vail Resorts whose ownership of Northstar, Heavenly and Kirkwood in the Tahoe region have bolstered a continental portfolio including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Park City, Canyons and Whistler / Blackcomb.
While executives of the new company claim the resorts will maintain individual character (link: , the synergy from connected resorts is undeniable. Vail Resorts has maintained meaningful market share by offering the Epic Pass, arguably the most versatile pass in the county, across its entire portfolio of resorts. The opportunity for Squaw / Alpine to compete on this scale will bring an abundance of new consumers to those resorts.
Further, the capitalization of this new entity, signals a willingness to invest in resort infrastructure that will greatly enhance the skier experience at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. According to the Denver Post, Eric Resnick of KSL claimed, “We have earmarked a lot of capital for improvements to be able to continue to reinvest significantly in the communities and the mountains. What’s exciting is being able to bring new opportunities to these communities and with these mountains to those customers who are already so passionate.”
The base-to-base gondola proposed to run between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows comes to mind as an investment that would greatly enhance the offering at both mountains and be a major benefit to homeowners within each community. Much like the gondola connecting Whistler and Blackcomb, this connection creates the largest single ski resort in the United States.
As demonstrated at Northstar among other resort communities, meaningful upgrades to resort services and infrastructure will drive real estate demand and values.