Vail Resorts Expands Owned Footprint into Europe with Majority Stake in Switzerland’s Andermatt-Sedrun Ski Resort
Three-mountain ski circus will join 2022-23 Epic, Epic Local, and Epic Day Passes
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Vail Resorts expanded its owned resort network into Europe today with an agreement to purchase a 55 percent stake in Andermatt-Sedrun Sport AG from Andermatt Swiss Alps AG (ASA), for approximately $160 million. The resort sprawls over three mountains with as much as a 5,000-foot vertical drop served by a Seussian assortment of 20-plus trains, trams, gondolas, chairlifts, and surface tows, and sits alongside the independently owned Disentis ski area. As with most European trailmaps, I can barely understand what the hell is going on here, but it looks like a good time:
Vail is taking a novel access approach with its first partially owned Euroskihill: unlimited access on the Epic Pass and five no-blackout days on the Epic Local, a pattern that no other Vail mountain follows. The All Resorts Epic Day Pass (that’s the most expensive kind – chart here) will also grant access to the resort.
With the addition of Andermatt-Sedrun, Epic Pass holders can now access five resorts in four European countries. While Vail’s new addition lacks the sheer size and international cache of its pre-existing, limited-day partners (Verbier, Switzerland; Les 3 Vallées, France; Arlberg, Austria; and Skirama Dolomiti, Italy), the resort instantly re-orients the Epic Pass from an add-on for adventuring North Americans and Australians to a primary product for the enormous European ski market.
“Entering the European ski market has been a long-term strategic priority for Vail Resorts,” said CEO Kirsten Lynch. “We are excited to be partnering with ASA and investing our capital and resources to support the ongoing development of Andermatt-Sedrun into one of the premier alpine destination resorts in Europe, with integrated operations in lifts, food and ski school.”
The purchase will boost Vail’s portfolio to 41 owned resorts in four countries. But the company appears to be taking a different approach this time. In words I never thought I’d see in a Vail press release, the company promised to maintain the resort’s “local, independent focus by retaining all employees, the existing operational infrastructure, and local expertise” [emphasis mine]. ASA and “local stakeholders” will retain a combined 45 percent share of the resort, as well as seats on the company’s board of directors.
“We plan to rely heavily on, and learn from, our partners, community members and the Andermatt-Sedrun team as we gain experience and understanding of the resort, its guests and operations,” Lynch said.
While European ski areas are often agglomerations of businesses owned by many individuals and entities, Andermatt-Sedrun comes with all of the resort’s ski lifts, its ski school, and most of the on-mountain restaurants. This North American-style setup may have helped Vail finally cross the Atlantic, docking its Niña on the shores of Europe. No doubt the Pinta and the Santa Maria are right behind. While we wait for that, here’s a look at what Vail bought, and what it means for the Epic Pass and skiers on both sides of the ocean:
Below the subscriber jump: a breakdown of the four ski sectors of Andermatt-Sedrun, a closer look at Epic Pass access, why this changes Vail’s whole game in Europe, and more.