Winter is coming. Vail and Aspen consolidate their RE empires

The companies are being forced to innovate beyond big RE deals in order to compete effectively

(BagoGames, front/Uri Tours, back)
(BagoGames, front/Uri Tours, back)

The knights of the Vail (Resorts) versus House Aspen Skiing Co. are preparing for battle — and it’s no flippant comparison.

The two companies are increasingly dominating the industry, as Bloomberg News reports, with 50 of North America’s biggest peaks having been acquired by either Vail or Aspen in the past five years.

Vail’s latest moves include buying Vermont’s Stowe and, for $1.3 billion, Canada’s Whistler Blackcomb Holdings — the latter of which was worth more than twice what Vail shelled out for its entire portfolio since 2002.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

Aspen, on the other hand, joined forces with KSL Capital Partners to make a $1.5 billion purchase of six ski resorts spread throughout Canada and the U.S. from Intrawest Resort Holdings, as well as acquiring four additional mountain properties in California and Utah.

With no new ski resorts built in the U.S. or Canada since the 1980s, North America’s mountainous regions are a veritable game board for the two competitors both vying for a snowy crown.

Bloomberg finds Vail to be leader heading into this winter thanks to its innovative spin on the season pass; now people can buy an all-mountain pass that allows them to visit different Vail properties — however the game is far from over.

[Bloomberg News] — E.K. Hudson