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Vail Resorts, Inc. is extending its reach for the first time into the northeastern United States, announcing Tuesday it will purchase Stowe Mountain Resort for $50 million.
The Vermont resort has been owned by Mt. Mansfield Co. Inc., a subsidiary of American International Group, Inc. (AIG), real estate developers who will retain control of several facilities and some real estate around the high-end Eastern resort.
For its money, Vail Resorts is acquiring all assets related to the resort's mountain operations, including food and beverage concessions, retail and rental stores, lift ticket offices and ski and snowboard-school facilities at both of Stowe's main base facilities Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak.
"We're thrilled to add Stowe Mountain Resort to our family of world-class mountain resorts," said Vail Resort Chairman and CEO Rob Katz, noting that AIG has made sizable investments in Stowe's facilities in recent years, including several new lifts.
"Stowe Mountain Resort has become the premier, high-end resort for East Coast skiers and snowboarders," he added, pledging to work closely with AIG to "enhance the guest experience and to ensure the resort's long-term success."
AIG will retain ownership of the 312-room Stowe Mountain Lodge at Stowe Mountain Resort, a 312-room hotel and spa, and Stowe Country Club.
Vail's establishment of ties in the East thrilled Nathan Rafferty, president and CEO of Ski Utah, marketing arm of the state's 14 active resorts. The biggest of those is Park City Resort, now in its second season under Vail management after the merger of Canyons and Park City Mountain Resort.
"It's a great pipeline for all those New England skiers who will almost certainly head west at some point during the winter," he said. "Utah, with the largest U.S. resort on the Epic Pass, will undoubtedly be on their radar."
That attention will be ideal for Bill Malone, president and CEO of Visit Park City.
"This has the potential to help us reach a larger audience in the greater Boston area," he said. "Our easy access to Logan [airport in Boston] and airports in Manchester, N.H. and Providence, R.I. is a strong reason to make the trip west to Park City. The Stowe passholder could easily make Park City that special once-a-season treat when conditions in New England are either too cold or too hot."
Back East, Ski Vermont President Parker Riehle called Vail's acquisition "great news for the ski area and the community."
"To have them come to Vermont for their first investment in the East makes perfect sense, he added, based on "Vermont's iconic brand identity in the East and [listing] perennially among the top three ski states in the country."
Riehle said he expects Vail's marketing expertise and brand power in Stowe's core East Coast markets will elevate the resort "to the next level and ensure the resort's long-term success and sustainability."
Katz said the final cost of the transaction, which is subject to Vermont approval, will depend upon a number of factors at closing.
He projects Stowe Mountain Resort will generate an additional $5 million in incremental annual EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) for the fiscal year ending July 31, 2018.
Season passholders at Stowe will be eligible for Vail Resorts' Epic Pass for the 2017-18 ski seasons. The Epic Pass will allow them to ski at Park City Resort and Vail's other resorts in Colorado, California and Australia.