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East Coast

Vail Resorts buys Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Okemo, Mount Sunapee, and Stevens Pass

The acquisitions mark Epic's interest in northeastern resorts, plus the first major purchase in Washington State.

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Okemo Mountain
Okemo Mountain ResortPhoto courtesy of Okemo Mountain Resort

The relatively dormant season pass battle between Epic and Ikon roared back to life this morning with the announcement that Vail Resorts purchased Triple Peaks LLC, the owners of Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Okemo, and Mount Sunapee. In a separate transaction, Vail Resorts also announced they will purchase Stevens Pass in Washington, the first ski resort in that state to join Epic.

“Together, the acquisitions of Okemo, Mount Sunapee, Crested Butte, and Stevens Pass will significantly enhance Vail Resorts’ network of resort experiences, adding even more variety and choice for all of our pass holders and guests,” said Vail Resorts chairman and CEO Rob Katz in a press release. “Okemo and Mount Sunapee are terrific complements to Stowe in the Northeast, as is Crested Butte to our four Colorado resorts, and Stevens Pass for our Whistler Blackcomb and Seattle guests.”

Crested Butte at night
Crested Butte at night.File photo

Tim and Diane Mueller, and their children Ethan and Erica Mueller, have operated Triple Peaks, LLC for the past 36 seasons. “Over the years, we have honored each resort’s distinctive attributes, thus establishing a culture and brand at each resort which has translated into visitation by millions of loyal guests over the years,” said Triple Peaks, LLC co-owner and executive vice president Diane Mueller in a press release. “Knowing that Vail Resorts has a knowledgeable, invested and experienced team gives us optimism about the future of our resorts, our dedicated employees, and our local communities.”

Vail resorts has agreed to pay $82 million for Triple Peaks, LLC, as well as pay the $155 million in leases all three ski resorts have with Ski Resort Holdings, LLC, an affiliate of Oz Real Estate. In a separate transaction, Stevens Pass Resort will fall under Vail Resorts’ ownership for $67 million, subject to certain adjustments. Stevens Pass was also under Ski Resort Holdings, LLC.

What these Acquisitions Mean for Skiers

Skiers at Okemo
A family at OkemoPhoto courtesy of Okemo Mountain Resort

After these sales are finalized, the 2018/2019 Epic Pass, Epic Local Pass, Epic Australia Pass, and Epic Military pass will include unlimited and unrestricted access to all four resorts. Whistler Blackcomb Edge Card holders can use any of their U.S. days at Stevens Pass, subject to restrictions. Vail Resorts will honor any season pass already purchased at any of the four resorts for the upcoming season as well. For more details, visit the Epic Pass Website.

These acquisitions provide a deeper foothold for Vail Resorts in the northeast, where they own Stowe and previously planned on offering seven limited days at Okemo and Mount Sunapee. The acquisition of Stevens Pass marks the first Washington ski resort to join Epic or Ikon, and is a strong regional addition. Vail Resorts also owns Whistler Blackcomb and the Epic Pass offers seven limited days at Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (Fernie, Kicking Horse, Kimberley Alpine, Nakiska, Mount Sainte Anne, and Stoneham).

Read more: Telluride Joins the Epic Pass

In a heartfelt letter to the Crested Butte, Okemo, and Mount Sunapee communities, the Mueller family acknowledged that Vail Resorts’ acquisition will lead to changes. “We realize the idea of a large company like Vail Resorts overseeing the operations of our unique resorts may feel unsettling,” the family wrote in the letter to Crested Butte skiers. “However, the reality is they are mountain operators and run some of the best and most successful resorts in the industry. Putting CBMR in their hands will ensure a good future for the ski area and therefore support a good future for the Gunnison Valley.”

“While some of you may think we have only considered ourselves in this decision, this could not be farther from the truth. We have entered into this transaction with the best intentions for the ski area, our fellow employees, and the valley. If we did not think this was going to bring more opportunity for the resort in the years to come, we would not have made this decision. Our goal has never been to make Crested Butte the biggest, but to make it the best and we feel Vail Resorts is poised to do just that.

“With that said, it is obvious that Vail Resorts will do some things differently than us. We hope you will be open to their approach and give them the opportunity to prove their good intentions.”