Vail continues to storm the East, buying Crotched, Attitash and Wildcat ski areas in N.H.

  • Skiers head down a trail on Crotched Mountain last winter. The company that owns the mountain, Peak Resorts, has been bought by Vail Resorts, which owns Mount Sunapee Resort among dozens of ski areas nationally. Monadnock Ledger-Transcript file

  • Work continues on an addition to the Pats Peak lodge, July 2019. It will include a new elevator,  new bathrooms, “ski boot friendly stairs,” and enlarged kids center. Pats Peak—Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 7/22/2019 9:07:16 AM

The company that owns Crotched Mountain, Attitash and Wildcat ski areas in New Hampshire has been purchased for $264 million by Vail Resorts, which already runs Mount Sunapee ski area. 

The purchase of Missouri-based Peak Resorts by Colorado-based Vail was announced Monday. Under the plan, subject to shareholder approval and regulatory review, Vail would buy all Peak Resorts’ stock at $11 per share.

Vail owns 21 ski areas around the country and has been moving east – it already owns Stowe and Okemo in Vermont, and leases Sunapee from the state – while Peak Resorts owns 17 resorts, including Mount Snow in Vermont.

The merger could increase competition for skier dollars on New Hampshire’s independent ski areas such as Pats Peak in Henniker, owned by the Patenaude family since it started in 1963, and Ragged Mountain in Danbury.

“Over the last few decades we’ve seen countless other industry consolidations (American Skiing Company, Triple Peaks, Peak Resorts, etc.) and we not only survived, but thrived. We welcomed Vail to the state last year and we had our best year ever,” Kris Blomback, general manager for Pats Peak, wrote in an email response to the Monitor. “They will help bring more skiers and riders to the slopes of New Hampshire.”

When Vail first entered New Hampshire, it received compliments as a top-notch ski resort owner. Blomback agreed.

“Vail for sure has been changing the landscape of the ski industry. They have a proven track record of being very good operators with a great business plan,” he wrote.

In announcing its newest purchase Monday, Vail said it would honor and continue to sell seasons passes for Peak Resorts, known as the “Peak Pass” for the upcoming season and give Peak Pass holders the option to upgrade to an Epic Pass for all Vail properties or an Epic Local Pass for regional Vail properties, currently retailing at $939 and $699 respectively, once the acquisition is done.

The move is part of a series of conglomerations that the skiing industry has seen in the past few years. At the start of the current season, for example, Peak Resorts bought three ski areas in Pennsylvania.

A major economic driver of consolidation, according to industry analysis, is that they allow single companies to sell multi-area ski passes such as the Peak Pass, broadening their customer base. This is often depicted as an increasingly necessary way to cope with stagnant numbers of new skiers and snowboarders, as well as pressure on ski season caused by climate change.

Peak Resorts entered New Hampshire in 2002 when it bought Crotched, which at the time had been shut since 1990. As part of the largest ski area resurrection that New England had seen in decades, it rebuilt the entire resort, cutting new trails, installing new chairlifts and constructing a new lodge and associated buildings.

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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