The Pros and Cons of Ski Resort Mergers

There’s a new trend in the world of ski resorts: merg­ers. Okay, maybe it isn’t so new after all, and actu­al­ly they’ve been hap­pen­ing for decades, but ski resorts are see­ing a lot of merg­er action late­ly. California’s Mam­moth Moun­tain recent­ly announced its acqui­si­tion of Big Bear Moun­tain Resorts, on the heels of Park City’s broad­cast that it has cou­pled up with the Vail Resorts port­fo­lio. We can’t for­get Intrawest sweep­ing full own­er­ship of Blue Moun­tain in Ontario, Cana­da, or the new com­bo of Song Moun­tain Resort and Labrador Moun­tain in New York. It’s like wed­ding sea­son, for mountains—and it’s not even win­ter yet!

These merg­ers obvi­ous­ly impact stake­hold­ers like resort employ­ees and com­pa­ny stockholders—and they affect you, too. Let’s take a look at what ski resort merg­ers mean for skiers and snowboarders.

breckenridge

Bet­ter Val­ue
Let’s not get car­ried away: ski pass­es are still far from being cheap, but moun­tain merg­ers mean that skiers and snow­board­ers are able to get more bang for their hard-earned buck. Once upon a time, get­ting a season’s pass to your favorite ski resort basi­cal­ly meant you were ball-and-chained to that moun­tain for the sea­son, unless you were will­ing to shell out even more bucks for a full-price win­dow tick­et. No thanks.

Moun­tain merg­ers mean that sea­son pass­es often work between part­nered resorts. Options like the Epic Pass, the Intrawest Pass­port, and the Moun­tain Col­lec­tive pass mean that you can hop mul­ti­ple moun­tains on a sin­gle pass.

You’ve Changed, Man
Sometimes—especially when a Big Cor­po­ra­tion sweeps up a mom-and-pop mountain—amalgamations result in a loss of ski resort char­ac­ter. Hit up any recent­ly merged ski resort and you’re bound to hear the old timers lament­ing about how it was back in the day.

End­less Pos­si­bil­i­ties
The big bud­gets of some of these mega moun­tain groups can yield some pret­ty excit­ing results, like improved on-moun­tain facil­i­ties, new lifts, and expand­ed ter­rain, to name a few. As long as there remains some healthy com­pe­ti­tion between the big moun­tain resort groups, expect to see some hefty invest­ments and R&D as they attempt to out-do one anoth­er. This could mean very excit­ing things for ski resort-goers.

chairlift

Longer Lift Lines
As moun­tains merge and shared pass­es become increas­ing­ly com­mon, chances are pret­ty good that for­mer­ly qui­et ski resorts are going to start see­ing a lit­tle more action. This is great news for the resorts and the local busi­ness owners—but the aver­age ski­er or snow­board­er might get a lit­tle bit­ter at the longer lift lines and light­ning fast track-outs of a fresh snowfall.

Bet­ter Access
With its acqui­si­tion of Big Bear, Mam­moth is now one of the largest ski com­pa­nies in the states. It just so hap­pens that the Mam­moth Lakes air­port is under­go­ing some trans­for­ma­tions, too: direct flights from Den­ver and Las Vegas—two major trans­porta­tion hubs—were recent­ly added, mak­ing it eas­i­er to access the resort area than ever before. We have a feel­ing that resorts are going to do every­thing they can to make it eas­i­er for skiers and snow­board­ers to get around their resorts, which is def­i­nite­ly good news for snow sporters.

A Whole Lot of Unknown
Ulti­mate­ly, the advan­tages and dis­ad­van­tages of a ski resort merg­er depends on the moun­tains in ques­tion. If you love your home moun­tain just the way it is, you’ll prob­a­bly be dis­ap­point­ed in some of the changes that might result in a merg­er. On the oth­er hand, if you’ve watched a resort tum­ble in a down­wards spi­ral under poor man­age­ment, an amal­ga­ma­tion can be a heav­en-sent, infus­ing the resort with a whole lot of new hope. Only one thing is for sure: the moun­tain merg­er mania does not seem to be leav­ing any time soon.