For years I had been hoping Vail Resorts would round out their portfolio with an Eastern ski resort. Wish granted, but like all wishes – its not exactly as you’d dreamed or anticipated. I was hoping Vail would come in with capital infusion for a New England ski resort in need- say Saddleback that has been closed for two ski seasons, or maybe Jay Peak and Burke Mountain now in receivership after last season’s EB5 ponzi scheme and scandal. But no – Vail goes for Stowe… my favorite ski resort in the East.
The $50 million price tag for Stowe is for the Mountain Ski operation, so ownership of the luxe Stowe Mountain Lodge, the Stowe Mountain Club, and the Stowe Golf Club remain with AIG. That makes for an interesting, perhaps complicated, equation. After all Vail Resorts loves its real estate and lodging revenue, right? They also own RockResorts – a posh collection of hotels, spas and resorts from Colorado to the Caribbean.
Back to Stowe. The biggest question is how Vail will include Stowe in its Epic Pass? Consider that a day ticket at Stowe is over $120, and an Epic Pass unlimited is $809 this season. Doesn’t take a math wiz to calculate the savings in 7 days, with bonus access to 14 ski resorts to boot! Vail Resorts indicate they will announce in March the Epic Pass implications for Stowe ski days – for the 2017-18 Epic Pass. Remember they start selling Epic Passes in April. Tick Tock!
I wager there will be limits and restrictions to Vail’s Epic Pass at Stowe next season. Honestly I hope so – if its unlimited access – the throngs will be at Stowe next season, including me! After all it is some of the best skiing in the East. Arguably Stowe’s epic snow conditions this winter are better than some resorts out west…lol to my western ski friends that assume we “ski ice in the east.”
Currently the Epic Pass is an outrageous deal, with full access to 10 major ski resorts Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, and Arapahoe Basin, and Perisher Australia, plus four small regional ski areas, and next year Whistler Blackcomb – which Vail bought just months ago. The Epic Pass also gets you some free lift tickets in the Alps, 6 days of skiing in France at Les 3 Vallées, Paradiski, and Val D’Isere Tignes, 3 days skiing the Dolomites of Italy, and 5 days at Les 4 Vallées of Switzerland which includes Verbier, and 6 days in Austria at Lech Zurs, St Anton and St Christoph (the Austrian ski resort privileges require that you purchase lodging and pre register).
I predict lodging rates will go up in Stowe – now that it is a Vail destination. And Stowe is already pretty pricey by New England ski standards. I envisions Vail will make some changes, streamlining of systems and cut backs to Stowe staffing – as I witnessed at Park City last week. Hey, at least Stowe already has the RFID lift ticket technology so they can adapt to the Epic Mix vertical tracking app – bonus. I already now you can bag a lot of vert on Stowe’s Front Four – 10 X 10 when the lifts open at 7:30! Hmmm, that might change too…
So there will be pros and cons with Vail’s Stowe purchase. Stay tuned, and keep your eye out for the serious season pass deals this spring for next season. The Max Pass, Rocky Mountain Super Pass, Epic Pass, Mountain Collective… it may be in ski show down throw down. A little healthy competition is a good thing, right my ski friends?!
By Heather Burke, Photos by Greg Burke, Copyright 2017