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Vail to buy Crans Montana lift company

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Was quite surprised to be sent the following link by a mate, but reading the article, they appear to have invested in Swiss resorts already.

https://thedaily.outdoorretailer.com/news/industry-press-releases/vail-resorts-to-acquire-crans-montana-mountain-resort/#:~:text=Vail%20Resorts%20is%20acquiring%20an,4%20retail%20and%20rental%20locations.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Not that surprising given they've already bought a significant chunk of Andermatt.

What it tells me is that the Swiss respect money and perhaps their ski resorts are suffering due to the high costs to the average European skier so maybe getting on the map for Merikins makes sense. For VR they are getting closer to having a viable Euro pass (although Euro resorts are only available on their highest price Epic pass). You can now do Brenta Dolomites, Verbier, 3V, Andermatt (unlimited) and I guess next season CM unlimited. Plus St Anton if you want to stay in a swanky hotel that is part of the condition for getting a free pass.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
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Interesting. The lifts looked like they could have done with a bit of investment when we were there a few years ago. If they invest in it then good.

If however it means reasonable day/days pass prices (for Switzerland) are dispensed with as all onto their Epic season pass like their other American resorts then bad.

But whichever , I guess thats the end for CM being on the Magic Pass?
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
the Swiss respect money


Yes they do, and so does everyone else. A famous US TV producer nailed it when he said: "the answer to all of your questions is money".
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
....already CM is far away from being on the Magic Pass....was on it for a couple of years then majority owner (R Vitek) opted out for financial reasons. His companies have: poured money into the lift system; opened and closed on a seemingly random basis; fallen out with the Commune; chased elite skiers at the expense of riff raff (us); reduced the piste area; renovated the Black Cow (vache noire) restaurant at a snall's pace...and so on.

Yep, we grit our teeth and buy annual passes and then the Magic Pass for surronding resorts. If there's white stuff then we will slide on it....

Now Vail.....grrrrrrr......
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@valais2, nice to see you posting even if not the best of circumstances.

A bit concerning as to what this also means for your friend’s ski school?

“The company [viz. Vail Resorts ] is acquiring an 80-percent ownership stake in SportLife AG, which operates one of the ski schools located at the resort.”

Does Vail operate a closed shop for ski schools on resorts it owns?
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Doubling of European lift ticket prices coming in 3..2..1... wink
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
ster wrote:
Does Vail operate a closed shop for ski schools on resorts it owns?


They do in the USA, but I don't believe that would be allowed in Europe, as probably illegal (restriction of trade etc)....
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@Alastair Pink, you mean like the Eurotest for instructors in France? Yes, no dodgy practices in Europe wink
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@Dave of the Marmottes, Most of the ski carparks in Vorarlberg have a pretty large percentage of Swiss cars in them these days, easier for them to dive over the border into Eurozone rather than pay CH-land ski prices, and who can blame them? If the Vail/ Aspen types are looking for a European ski experience the Swiss will certainly welcome them and their money with open arms, they need the punters i'd suggest. No such thing as a free pass, they'll pay for it in those 5* places with interest wink
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ster wrote:
@Alastair Pink, you mean like the Eurotest for instructors in France? Yes, no dodgy practices in Europe wink


Well for Crans Montana we're talking about Switzerland and my comment was a more general one about the Europeans not allowing a single ski school to have exclusive rights to operate in a resort, multiple ski schools can operate in a European resort (providing their instructors have gained the qualifications specified by the country concerned). Madeye-Smiley

P. S I agree about the Eurotest being a dodgy practice, but the bottom line is that if people have passed it and the other requirements then multiple ski schools can ( and are) be established in French ski resorts


Last edited by snowHeads are a friendly bunch. on Fri 1-12-23 17:41; edited 1 time in total
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@Markymark29, Yep was thinking just that - always plenty of Swiss around the Arlberg and the Haute Savoie for that matter. And Austria is just way more attractive for Germans.
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@Markymark29,

From experience of Whistler, I think you may be misunderstanding how the Vail business model seems to work...
Here's my uneducated opinion...

They do (stated on their corporate reports) unsurprisingly target higher income bracket, but I don't think it's quite the Yellowstone Club.

Day tickets are very high (~$300 + tax per day at Whistler Shocked ), but season passes are actually cheaper than they were pre-vail.
I think the idea here I'd that everyone near every vail owned resort buys an Epic pass. This has several advantages for Vail:
- get guaranteed revenue without having to worry about whether it snows much or not. Plus it's probably snowing at some vail resort somewhere.
- get revenue early (today is pretty much the last day to buy an Epic pass)

Does this affect the super rich - probably not as buying whatever lift tickets whenever, or breaking out the helicopter makes no noticeable effect on the bank balance.
The most likely impact is on the fairly well off, that get a cheapish flight on a regular basis for a (long) weekend of skiing as they now dont have to also pay for lift tickets at a variety of places - does Europe really have that market (yet)?
The other market it affects is the occasional skiers, particularly local ones, as they do seem to get priced out.

In terms of skiing at Whistler, this seems to manifest itself as half of the US getting on a plane to Vancouver every (long) weekend.
Apart from a noticeable increase in cost of hotels in Whistler, and no real quiet times anymore, for us it is a marginal benefit as the pass which we would have bought anyway is slightly cheaper, and I get a few days at other places included.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Some of the changes that Vail brought in, or happened as a result, when they bought the Falls Creek lift co (my local hill):

* Season passes became marginally cheaper.
* Day tickets prices soared. A walk-up day ticket went to ~$230, from somewhere in the mid-$100s.
* Traditionally, when few lifts were available, previous lift companies, would drop the day ticket price to say around $60 - $100. No more. At the end of the 2023 season, when there was only one narrow strip of spring snow/slush, on a beginner-intermediate slope, served by 1 lift, that walk-up price was $219.
* Interactions were pushed to electronic channels. Phone contact is now pretty much unavailable. Long response times.
* It is now not possible to see online which instructors are available and when. The system will allocate you an instructor. If you want a particular instructor, you need to have his/her personal phone number.
* Lifts are closed when Vail perceives there is not enough demand. Prices don’t change - see above.
* Grooming budgets have been significantly cut.
* Crowds increased, as people moved from Mt Buller to take advantage of the Epic pass, or came down from Perisher (another Vail mountain) because that mountain has worse crowd problems.

In short, I cannot see one positive change from Vail coming in.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
ulmerhutte wrote:


In short, I cannot see one positive change from Vail coming in.


You get to ski all over N America and parts of Europe without having to buy a pass?

You are one of 2 things in the Vail world : A) a place to gouge the unwary or B) a feeder place where you'll spend your travel budget at A. Now if you're savvy you can make the Vail pass package work for you but you've got to be pretty committed on the travel side. The day pass is a bit of a red herring. It's only there for mugs who don't plan ahead and to make all that lovely upfront cashflow from season passes look better value.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@ulmerhutte, Falls Creek eh?

I did a season in Mt Hotham in 2001. On one of the last days (mid-September), a few of us got the helicopter over to Falls Creek for the day. There was barely any snow left and it was like 16 degrees, so we just sat outside for most of the day having a few beers. Great experience if only for the ride there and and back.
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At least Europe has plenty of other resorts, Vail can’t buy them all! Can they………..?
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@Dave of the Marmottes, true that, but I am a committed St Anton skier (love the place, have friends there, etc) so the Epic pass does nothing for me, but it obviously does for some. Falls Creek already had a cheapish season pass before Vail arrived. I also understand that Epic gives you very limited access to in many (most?) resorts, which does not work for me. I buy a season pass.

@mikeycharlton, my home hill in Australia. Member of a lodge. I have not done the helicopter - I bet the views are amazing - but have walked Hotham to Falls in summer. Beautiful countryside.
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@ulmerhutte,

Limited in some resorts, unlimited in others. https://www.epicpass.com/passes/epic-pass.aspx
I think the Vail owned resorts are all unlimited on the full Epic pass, with limited access to partner resorts - for example I have unlimited access to Whistler (+Vail, and a bunch of other US resorts), and limited access to places like Kicking Horse (7 days)
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Works for me. Vail bought the tiny hill that I grew up skiing on and is still the best place to ski near me.

I've already done most of the US resorts I want to ski. So maybe I'll do 3 valleys, Crans-Montana, and Telluride next season.

btw the Verbier/4 Valleys pass is a limited to lodging thing like the Ski Arlberg
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valais2 wrote:
....already CM is far away from being on the Magic Pass....was on it for a couple of years then majority owner (R Vitek) opted out for financial reasons. His companies have: poured money into the lift system; opened and closed on a seemingly random basis; fallen out with the Commune; chased elite skiers at the expense of riff raff (us); reduced the piste area; renovated the Black Cow (vache noire) restaurant at a snall's pace...and so on.

Yep, we grit our teeth and buy annual passes and then the Magic Pass for surronding resorts. If there's white stuff then we will slide on it....

Now Vail.....grrrrrrr......


Is CM any good? I don’t know anyone that skis there. South facing so as soon as the sun comes out everything melts non?
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
stevesie wrote:
Works for me. Vail bought the tiny hill that I grew up skiing on and is still the best place to ski near me.

I've already done most of the US resorts I want to ski. So maybe I'll do 3 valleys, Crans-Montana, and Telluride next season.

btw the Verbier/4 Valleys pass is a limited to lodging thing like the Ski Arlberg


Yeah but for Verbier there's a greater variety of lodging rather than just the 5* ish places.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
... Yeah but for Verbier there's a greater variety of lodging rather than just the 5* ish places.
So the business model is... that they own at least a percentage of everything in Whistler (for example), but some of these EU places they don't own all the retail/ accommodation etc, so they don't get profit from pass holders who visit those in the same way as they do if you visit somewhere like Whistler.... so they constrain you to accommodation with which they have some kind of commercial relationship? Or is it just that the local "resort company" cuts a deal to bring in more rich-ish Epic Pass folk and kicks back a percentage to VR, but they want it to be richer folk not poorer...?
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Quote:

Now if you're savvy you can make the Vail pass package work for you but you've got to be pretty committed on the travel side.


I guess there's some truth in that, from a Brit perspective where you are too far to drive for a day or twos skiing. (Perhaps they need to buy glenshee next!).

However, with the euro lift pass costs rising, even for Brits epic pass is becoming more inviting. Epic pass is cheaper than 2 6-day passes at Tignes. It's also cheaper than most of the big euro resort season passes. If you are considering doing a trip to N America it's a no brainer. If you are considering doing 3 weeks+ in Europe it's a serious option.

For the right person who wants to ski a lot of days, there is arguably no better pass on earth in terms of quality and quantity of resorts than epic. The southern hemisphere guys do particularly well out of it.
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phil_w wrote:
Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
... Yeah but for Verbier there's a greater variety of lodging rather than just the 5* ish places.
So the business model is... that they own at least a percentage of everything in Whistler (for example), but some of these EU places they don't own all the retail/ accommodation etc, so they don't get profit from pass holders who visit those in the same way as they do if you visit somewhere like Whistler.... so they constrain you to accommodation with which they have some kind of commercial relationship? Or is it just that the local "resort company" cuts a deal to bring in more rich-ish Epic Pass folk and kicks back a percentage to VR, but they want it to be richer folk not poorer...?


Don't know how it works. Assume largely VR offer a reciprocal trade to the Euro resort season pass holders I.e. go ski Whistler or Vail etc for free plus wider marketing in the US. Plus maybe some modest cash to sweeten the deal. I guess in St Anton and Verbier the accomodations kick in a bit to the lift co to subsidise the free pass or maybe it's just a screen to keep out ski bum riff raff.

Note Ikon are doing the same on reciprocal. Cham, Kitz, Dollies.
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Quote:

more rich-ish Epic Pass folk


I think the assumption that epic pass is mostly for rich people is wrong. Yes, skiing is an expensive sport and by definition most skiers are probably doing better than average financially. But for many in USA and Canada, epic pass is the local resort season pass. Due to excruciatingly high day ticket prices it is the cheaper option if you are going to ski more than a few days, which for most living within driving distance of a ski resort is the case.

Epic pass is the choice of most ski bums and road trippers trying to get a lot of days on cheapest budget
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Epic Pass is not necessarily for rich people. Skiing is generally for middle class+ people in the US (ski bums are almost always the kids of middle class+ people). Access is a lot tougher to good ski areas than in Europe. Most people are further away. Lodging is typically more expensive, less options for public transport, and more expensive ticket prices. Epic Pass is a great deal, in fact it probably makes skiing cheaper for a lot of people depending on your situation which is why it is so popular. Yes, it has caused higher single ticket prices, but it'd would still be cheaper for people that really want to ski.

I worked at Aspen Snowmass well over a decade ago. The only place beating us out on ticket prices was Vail by a few dollars. Today, if you want a season ticket to Aspen, it's $3300 (comes with Ikon Base Pass, not full Ikon, but I dunno how much you're using that if you're on an Aspen season pass). Vail and every other Epic resort? $1025. Of course there are cheaper pass options for early buys etc.

Now what Vail has done a good job that Ikon hasn't is buying small feeder resorts in the midwest etc. So you get to ski locally, and then can go to any number of better resorts on trips all on the same pass. That's what really makes the Epic pass a great deal for a lot of us. I got out for my first turns this year the other day and saw a kid with "Epic" stickers all over his helmet.

So you know if Epic hadn't bought my tiny little hill, it would have been more expensive to ski many cases. Last year I did Ikon pass and only skied locally once. This year all my trips are to Europe and I bought the downgraded season pass for only access to my local hill (going to Verbier, but upgrading for the 5 days there would have been more expensive then buying the lift tickets)
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