Vail vs. Alterra in the Pacific Northwest

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Vail vs. Alterra in the Pacific Northwest

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Apr 26, 2021 5:21 pm

https://www.seattletimes.com/life/outdo ... ent-paths/

My take, based on very small sample size, is that Crystal is among the elite in North America in terrain overall, and that Stevens has excellent terrain quality but is only about half the size of Crystal. Stevens gets more snow but Crystal has a higher altitude range for less rain and better snow preservation, though these are weaknesses for all the Cascade areas.

Visitation at the two areas is about the same due to location. Crystal is more convenient for those who live south of Seattle and Stevens for those who live north. I thus observed higher density and faster tracking of powder at Stevens.

But the article reinforces the pattern that Vail seems to alienate a significant fraction of the local employee/customer base when they acquire a new resort.

A contact with some insight into Alterra has opined that Alterra's long term focus would be upon the high end of the ski market. The divergence in pass pricing is perhaps the first obvious sign of that focus. High-end doesn't just mean expensive IMHO; it also means appeal to the most avid and frequent skiers. These skiers are less tolerant of cutbacks in operations, either hours or length of season, issues mentioned in the above article.
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Re: Vail vs. Alterra in the Pacific Northwest

Postby ChrisC » Tue Apr 27, 2021 3:25 pm

Does Alterra have a strategy? Hahaha....No

Alterra is a bunch of kids at KSL Capital that had money to place - and they wanted to create another Vail Resorts. The KSL children with money with no business mgt experience: https://www.kslcapital.com/who-we-are They are like my stupid venture capitalists who just stare at finance numbers and have nothing to offer mgt/marketing-wise in the tech industry. An Analyst with 2-4 years of experience is directing a corporate strategy in the ski industry - please. It's maybe Rusty trying to do everything for them....

High End?
Better sell/cut relationships with Snoqualmie, Solitude, Brighton, Steamboat, Copper, Winter Park, Eldora.... Those places are not high-end. Maybe Aspen, Jackson, Deer Valley are. And Crystal Mountain, WA is a place with 60 RV hookups in their parking lot....it's guys in their boxer shorts drinking coffee on a Spring day/tailgating. Alterra is a bunch of misfit resorts banning together due to Vail.

It's just a reactive strategy at best. And they don't interfere with current management... because they cannot. They have no best practices...they have nothing to offer. Still trying to staff their HQ https://recruiting2.ultipro.com/INT1052 ... 2FBl_drB3w

Stevens-Whistler is a VERY strong Epic proposition. If I was still living in Seattle, I would sign up for that. The issue is -- there is no parking up on Stevens Pass. Be there by 9/930 am on weekends or get turned away. I bet a lot of Seattle-ites signed up for this....and they love going to Whistler, Sun Valley or Colorado. Got Sun? They are just complaining that Stevens is very busy on the weekends...too bad they live in an economically successful city.

Crystal is one of the best expert mountains in the USA (Silver King, Niagras, Northway, Powder Bowl, Bear Pits, etc). It compares favorably with Whistler, Squaw/Alpine, Snowbird, Jackson, etc. I feel it's in the same tier. Heavy snow is the issue, and possible rain. Better than Alta, Big Sky, Taos. You add Snoqualmire-Alpental with that Ikon pass (Alpental rocks!)..... Seattle is one of the best expert skiing cities in the US with resorts 45min-1.5 hrs.

Crystal
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Alpental
http://www.alpental.com

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Re: Vail vs. Alterra in the Pacific Northwest

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Apr 27, 2021 8:50 pm

I agree Alterra is a puzzle. I was only passing along the opinion of someone who claims to know some of the top decision makers.

Overall the Ikon group of areas is more attractive to avid skiers than Vail's group. But of course a lot of those iconic :lol: ski areas are partner resorts and not actually owned by Alterra. Alterra is paying those resorts when Ikon passholders visit them. So it's not obvious where Alterra's path to high profitability is, and a resulting valuation that will score a payout to the private equity investors.

That slideshow James linked for Vail is what you would expect from a publicly traded company, expounding how they maximize revenue and minimize costs.

ChrisC wrote:Better sell/cut relationships with Snoqualmie, Solitude, Brighton, Steamboat, Copper, Winter Park, Eldora.... Those places are not high-end. Maybe Aspen, Jackson, Deer Valley are. And Crystal Mountain, WA is a place with 60 RV hookups in their parking lot....it's guys in their boxer shorts drinking coffee on a Spring day/tailgating.

My contact also opined Alterra might cut loose some of the places not befitting a high-end image. I argued, no, many of those places are likely very profitable cash cows. Mammoth, Big Bear, Winter Park and Blue Mountain were the examples I cited. Alterra would love to own Jackson but they do not. POWDR Corp owns Copper and Eldora. Boyne owns Snoqualmie and Brighton.

I have historically argued that Seattle is one of the top metro areas for an avid skier to live, probably behind only Salt Lake and Reno in the US and definitely ahead of Denver.
ChrisC wrote:...too bad they live in an economically successful city.

Yes Seattle is becoming more competitive/crowded for skiing, but that's true for Salt Lake, Denver and probably Tahoe too.
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Re: Vail vs. Alterra in the Pacific Northwest

Postby EMSC » Wed Apr 28, 2021 11:20 am

Tony Crocker wrote:Overall the Ikon group of areas is more attractive to avid skiers than Vail's group. But of course a lot of those iconic ski areas are partner resorts and not actually owned by Alterra.


This. The vision for Alterra is not about Vails' style of expensive/rich persons ski areas + tiny feeder areas, but for 'skiers mountains' being the definition of "high-end". eg High-end for the avid practitioners of the sport, not necessarily just high-end on the pocket book or type of person who can afford to be there.

Under that theory I would think they want both big and small sized "ski areas that rock" kind of thing. The irony being that Alterra owns few of these right now and are renting time as it were with owners that for the most part probably don't ever want to sell (eg Jackson hole, Taos, Big Sky, Crystal, etc...). It's easy to sell off Mt McBland, or Mt McTiny but no one wants to sell a true gem of a place if they don't have to.

I would argue conversely that Vail has very little idea what to do with the couple of skiers mtns that they do have (eg Crested Butte). If they time it right economically they can sell it off for a good sized profit and re-invest in their type of more generally bland, near population center ski area(s).
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Re: Vail vs. Alterra in the Pacific Northwest

Postby ChrisC » Wed Apr 28, 2021 2:53 pm

I wish I was back in Seattle.

I’m a bit over San Francisco......miss days in 2000s when I had ski houses on Alpine Meadows access road.

Denver is more ouch on a Saturday morning...
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Re: Vail vs. Alterra in the Pacific Northwest

Postby Sbooker » Wed Apr 28, 2021 4:15 pm

It may be a different story for the domestic market but if I'm travelling from overseas to the US for a ski holiday I'm buying Ikon over Epic. Snowbird/Alta, Jackson, Aspen, Big Sky, Mammoth sells itself.
If I'm travelling to Canada I'm buying Mountain Collective for Sun Peaks/Revelstoke/Panorama/Banff over taking on the crowds at Whistler.
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Re: Vail vs. Alterra in the Pacific Northwest

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Apr 29, 2021 8:22 am

ChrisC wrote:...for the most part probably don't ever want to sell (eg Jackson Hole, Taos, Big Sky, Crystal, etc...)

The Blake family sold Taos to Louis Bacon in 2013 and John Kircher sold Crystal to Alterra in 2018.
I agree that the places Alterra wants most IMHO (Alta, Snowbird and Jackson Hole) don't look like they will ever sell, but that's what people might have said about Crystal only a year after John Kircher made the effort to separate Crystal from the rest of the Boyne group.
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