On Monday, Aspen Skiing Company and KSL Capital Partners, a private equity firm in Denver, purchased Intrawest Resorts for $1.5 billion, according to Reuters. Intrawest owns Steamboat and Winter Park in Colorado; Stratton Mountain in Vermont; Mont Tremblant in Montreal, Quebec; Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia; Blue Mountain in Ontario; and Canadian Mountain Holidays, a heli-ski operator based in Banff, Alberta.
It’s a big move for Aspen, which currently operates four resorts in the Roaring Fork Valley: Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass. It’s largely seen as a response to the many acquisitions made by Vail in recent years, including Park City in 2014, Whistler (which used to be owned by Intrawest) in 2016, and Vermont’s Stowe Mountain Resort in 2017. KSL already owns Squaw and helps manage Snowmass.
The two companies will form a new entity to run the Intrawest resorts, according to an Aspen Skiing Company press release. Aspen’s previous holdings will continue to be managed exclusively by Aspen. The press release said there wouldn’t be any changes for pass holders in 2017-2018; those who bought the Mountain Collective Pass (which includes Aspen resorts as well as Squaw) or the M.A.X. pass (which includes Intrawest resorts) would still be able to use them. But look for a new pass to come out soon after that, as ski areas continue to view collective season passes, that allow skiing at multiple resorts, as a vital business strategy.