Today Resorts of the Canadian Rockies announced Vail Resorts, Inc.(NYSE: MTN) and the Alterra Mountain Company would be bidding for the purchase of the RCR resort group as a whole. Bidding opened today at 8AM MST and will continue for ten (10) days, closing on April 10, 2019 at 5PM MST.
In an effort to provide clarity as the sale proceeds, there is a real time web site for pass holders and investors to follow the bidding live at rcrbids.ca
Both groups have expressed an interest in RCR and spent months inspecting the properties. The RCR Calgary Head office issued a short press release early this morning announcing the auction.
The opening bid is $50M CAD. For comparison in 2010, Panorama Ski Area, with the hotels and developable land, sold for a reported $27M CAD. Vail Resorts bbought Whistler Blackcomb for $1.40B CAD in the fall of 2016. This represented a 25% premium over current ski area valuations based on ROI.
The bidding is expected to be lively and heated over the next ten days.
We are waiting for a response to our requests for comment from both Vail Associates and from Aspen Ski Corp.
Vail Resorts has a history of adding resorts to the Epic Pass and then completing the purchase the following year. In 2018, the Triple Peaks, LLC ski areas of Crested Butte, Okemo and Mt. Sunapee were added to the Epic Pass. The following year, the Triple Peaks group sold the three ski areas to Vail Associates.
Vail Resorts bought or controls 19 resorts across North America and in Australia. Their Epic Pass offers holders essentially unlimited skiing at all the owned resorts and seven days of more skiing at partner resorts with discounted skiing after the initial seven days. This season RCR was an Epic Pass Partner. Holders could ski for seven days free at any RCR Resort and then continue skiing at half price after using up the first seven days. There was a notable increase in American visitors to all RCR resorts as a result of the Partnership. The Epic Pass includes 20 other resorts in Australia and Japan with reduced cots at over 30 European resorts.
Alterra Mountain Company’s Ikon Pass is similar offering unlimited skiing at 14 destinations and 7 days at another 23 resorts. The Ikon Pass includes resorts in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South America. There is no option for skiing at half price after the first seven days at a resort as on the Epic Pass.
In essence, this auction will determine which of the Big Two permanently adds the Resorts of the Rockies to their stable of resorts.