Vail buys Okemo Mountain, Mount Sunapee and Crested Butte Mountain

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Comments

  • After having witnesses what Vail Resorts did to Park City (i.e. ruin it), I agree with everything that rickbolger said. Many longtime PC pass holders moved over to Deer Valley (which was unfathomable years ago) after they were acquired by Vail Resorts, but now DV has been acquired (the jury is still out on how that will turn out). Let's hope that we are both wrong...

    I predict Vail is already looking at ways to jettison Sunapee. Hard to be Epic® without condos, parking garages and Potemkin villages. Then again, maybe New Hampshire will be suckered in by their rodomontade.

    Personally I think this is bad news.

    My experience with Vail Resorts properties is that parking sucks and prices are exorbitant. After you finally find your way through the village, there's no place to boot up, no place to store your bag without paying, and the lines for everything are Epic®.

    I predict lift tickets will increase dramatically, but some of us will be suckered into going because an Epic® passholder will tell us they can save us 20% with their pass. I predict we'll be dumbfounded by how long the line takes because the people at the ticket window ask you questions that have nothing to do with skiing but everything to do with Epic® e-mail target marketing and it will delay getting to the slopes by about 30-40 minutes and it will suck.

    I predict that while you're waiting on line, a good looking associate will give you a cookie, while the Epic® passholders smile brightly and rave about how wonderful it all is.

    I predict it will suck epically. Including the cookie.

  • 210 said:

    After having witnesses what Vail Resorts did to Park City (i.e. ruin it)

    What exactly did they do? Haven't been there in ages.
  • Due to the low cost of the Epic Pass, it became WAY too crowded. As in you better get to the main parking lot by 9:00 on weekdays and earlier on weekends if you want a free parking spot or you will have to trudge over to the Canyons or take a shuttle bus from the high school. And while they have several six pack lifts, they are very crowded, not to mention the slopes. The food prices went up substantially such that they are more expensive than Deer Valley (which has much better food). I could go on, but those are the main things with the crowds being the show stopper. BTW, I still have a full Epic Pass along with my Deer Valley pass and begrudgingly go PC once in a while when my friends come and visit and they *have* to ski there -- until they see just how crowded and expensive it is.
  • Rick, you said the NELSAPPERS are a tiny minority and you're right. But, no matter how small, we are a minority with a voice, this website. The big group or skiers without such a voice make up a multitude of minorities of one, even more tiny voices who may not make any impression at all. I get the feeling that the ski industry is aware of NELSAP, small as it is, and sometimes pays attention.
  • Here's comments from Liftblog.com. Solitude is what Sunapee calls the expansion on the back of North Peak.

    Collin
    June 4, 2018 / 3:33 pm
    Now let’s talk lifts. I’ll focus on the east since that’s where I live and ski.
    Okemo is sitting pretty relative to their neighbors and ranked number 1 in the east for lifts.
    Their oddball lift is the Doppelmayr Green Ridge Triple in a sea of Poma. It’s also a long slow ride and is useful to get to the summit from Solitude or Jackson Gore without riding the Sunburst or going to the bottom. That could be upgraded to a high speed quad, possibly with the Okemo signature Orange bubbles.
    The bubblization of the Jackson Gore Express resulted in a significant decrease in capacity so maybe that could be upgraded to a bubble 6 and relocated to replace Green Ridge. Lengths match well.
    I could also see making one of the Base Quads a detachable quad or 6, maybe a bubble and maybe not
    At Sunapee there were already the lift projects in the pipeline but both were relocations. Vail could follow through on them or build new lifts instead. There’s also talk about the West Bowl expansion or whatever it’s called which would be helpful in handling the extra skier visits brought on by the Epic Pass since it’s close to Boston.

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    Peter Landsman
    June 4, 2018 / 4:28 pm
    At Sunapee, Vail seems more likely to build a detachable quad on North Peak rather than relocating the fixed-grip quad from the boneyard. The quad could go to Solitude and a new high-speed quad added in West Bowl.
  • TomWhite said:

    Here's comments from Liftblog.com. Solitude is what Sunapee calls the expansion on the back of North Peak.

    Collin
    June 4, 2018 / 3:33 pm
    Now let’s talk lifts. I’ll focus on the east since that’s where I live and ski.
    Okemo is sitting pretty relative to their neighbors and ranked number 1 in the east for lifts.
    Their oddball lift is the Doppelmayr Green Ridge Triple in a sea of Poma..........edited for space.................There’s also talk about the West Bowl expansion or whatever it’s called which would be helpful in handling the extra skier visits brought on by the Epic Pass since it’s close to Boston.

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    Reply

    Peter Landsman
    June 4, 2018 / 4:28 pm
    At Sunapee, Vail seems more likely to build a detachable quad on North Peak rather than relocating the fixed-grip quad from the boneyard. The quad could go to Solitude and a new high-speed quad added in West Bowl.

    Is this a Vail employee, or just conjecture/wishing/hoping?

  • 210 said:

    Due to the low cost of the Epic Pass, it became WAY too crowded.

    Interesting, I already considered most of the Utah areas to be too crowded for my taste. Other than Brian Head and Eagle Point it's probably been 15 years since I've skied in Utah. Must really be crazy now. I wonder if it lowered skier days at some of the other places. I'd like to get back one of these years, would no doubt aim for late season. Ideally will go Easter week when my kids are in 5th or 6th grade (it's currently $45 for a 5th or 6th grade passport, and I would get a Yeti pass). Looks like Easter 2023 is April 9th and Mar 31 in 2024. Never too early to plan ahead!

  • edited June 5
    I don't see any of those items from liftblog happening at Okemo in the immediate future, but could be wrong. IMHO More likely to see the Jackson to Main Mountain gondola back in play before a replacement of Quad A/B, Green, or Quantum Four.
  • Bill29 said:

    Rick, you said the NELSAPPERS are a tiny minority and you're right. But, no matter how small, we are a minority with a voice, this website. The big group or skiers without such a voice make up a multitude of minorities of one, even more tiny voices who may not make any impression at all. I get the feeling that the ski industry is aware of NELSAP, small as it is, and sometimes pays attention.

    Encouraging words and true! Wisdom appreciated!!!!

  • I do believe there are many admin types who often scope us out. As I recall, Whaleback checks us out and every now and then I see Win posting. That's always good, because at their hearts, they're skiers, not corporate suits. Dennis Eshbaugh from HV is the same way-- and I know he listens as well.
    "Making ski films is being irresponsible with other people's money, in a responsible sort of way..." 
    Greg Stump
  • Why didn’t they buy Saddleback. They have the money to make it the Vail of the east.
  • Because Saddleback has never been profitable.
  • edited June 12
    I've skied Park City before and after Vail. It's a fun area. As a tourist I think it was looking pretty shabby before and a lot better after Vail took over (new lifts, lodges). The biggest complaint I heard from locals was they dropped a lot of long time liftees and hired new ones when they took over - not much of a difference maker for a tourist like me. I've skied there about 15-20 days in last four years with no trouble finding free parking at Canyons Cabriolet lot, pretty much any time, any day of week. The free lot at Payday chair (main Park City base) is more likely to fill up and it's a farther drive for me, but I've successfully parked over there several times too.

    Frankly, the biggest crowd issue I've seen at Park City under Vail was the one time I went into the big, new mid-mtn Miners Camp restaurant/lodge with group of friends the year it first opened (a couple years ago). Expensive and hard to find a table to fit group of 15. But I almost always bring my own lunch and eat for free on the patio of the Summit House, one chairlift up from there and much more scenic.

    As for avoiding trail traffic, my favorite advanced terrain at Park City, from left to right on the trail map, includes the bumps of McConkey’s, the chutes of Jupiter, the trees of Peak 5, the bowls of Ninety-Nine 90, the glades of Tombstone, and the off piste from Super Condor. Most days you’ll find moderate to minuscule lines at all of these lifts. The new Quicksilver gondola very effectively connects the old PCMR and old Canyons ski areas and serves its own secluded expanse of off-piste terrain called Pinecone Ridge.

    I've skied Kirkwood before and after Vail, again as a tourist. Didn't notice much difference either way. Great ski area. I do know that Kirkwood always struggled to compete because of it's relative isolation. Having a deep pocket owner was probably good for its continued existence as a quality destination.

    I know some people who've skied Sunapee for several years. Here's what they said about the buy: "Many of us are ecstatic in the Mt Sunapee area. First of all, the Epic Pass will be valid at three Eastern locations, two of them major destination locations. Mt Sunapee’s expansion was recently approved by the State of New Hampshire but Three Peaks was holding the expansion in abeyance."

    Somehow I suspect there's a silent majority of long time Stowe pass holders out there who after the Vail buy didn't mind seeing their pass price drop 25% while gaining free access to an additional 15 or so resorts.

    I don't want to see the death of small ski areas either. I love places with character, but I'm not sure Vail is the total bad guy in this. In the spirit of capitalism, they are offering a pretty good value pass for a pretty good product and the public is going for it in a big way.
  • As a former Sunapee employee and seeing the mountain both from the skier and from the employee's standpoint, I'm cautiously optimistic that Vail coming in will be a plus for the mountain and for the Lake Sunapee region as a whole. The Muellers did great things to help put the mountain on the map and help save it from NELSAP at the time that they leased it. While it did feel like investment waned a bit, it mostly seemed like they would focus their money on one resort at a time. For example when they leased Sunapee, thye pumped a decent amount of money into it for the first 3 years that they ran it. Then they focused money on Jackson Gore at Okemo when that was built. Then they bought Crested Butte, and the money focus went there for a few years, then they pumped some money back into Okemo and Sunapee with the summer operations, and so on.

    While Sunapee may have become the readheaded step-child of the three resorts over time, I think it still helps make the acquisition of Sunapee's lease a good move for them. It gives people in the Boston market a taste of what Vail has to offer and allow them to buy a cheap pass that they are significantly more likely to use now that skiing with that pass is only 2 hours away rather than 3.5 to 4 hours to get to Stowe. There's also the West Bowl that they could capitalize on as that would definitely turn it into more of a weekend getaway resort. Growing up in the Sunapee area, I know for sure that the economy needs any investment that might come.
  • Does the state of NH have any say in this because Sunapee is leased from the state?

    It looks like the state will have a say: https://unofficialnetworks.com/2018/06/18/attorney-general-says-vail-resorts-take-over-of-ski-area-requires-state-approval/
    - Sam
  • Does the state of NH have any say in this because Sunapee is leased from the state?

    It looks like the state will have a say: https://unofficialnetworks.com/2018/06/18/attorney-general-says-vail-resorts-take-over-of-ski-area-requires-state-approval/
    Vail is aware of this- that's why their statements say "pending approvals..."
  • It's interesting what responses Sunapee's social media posts about the sale have generated. On Facebook the responses were a mix of both positive and negative reactions, while on Instagram, that vast majority of responses were negative.
    - Sam
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