Truly Epic Australia Pass: Vail buys Hotham & Falls

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Perisher, Hotham and Falls on one lift pass has happened before – back when all 3 were jointly owned by Packer companies – but the pass cost more and had no extra benefits like ski USA, Canada & Japan like you can with the Epic Australia Pass.

Deep powder skiing Hotham
Drew Jolowicz on the surge in Heavenly Valley © Sarah Hatton

Better get on the Feb 26 deadline when that goes up if you are Hotham, Falls and Perisher regulars because Vail Resorts announced confirmation of the previously announced intention to purchase the two Victorian resorts.

Subject to regulatory approvals it’s a go, for the 2019 winter. Exciting times!

Vail Resort’s track record with existing staff has been pretty good with Perisher so hopefully Falls and Hotham crew will be okay.

And some overdue capital investments – express lifts for Hotham perhaps top of our wish list – would be great to see sooner rather than later.

Anyway, the proof will be in the powder pudding, but the bottom line for most paying punters is you ski more for less as long as you make that initial investment in the Epic Australia Pass.

That goes up on Feb 26 so get on it – just need to deposit now.

© Perisher

Here’s the detail released today:

  • Vail Resorts will acquire Falls Creek and Hotham resorts in Victoria, Australia from a subsidiary of Merlin Entertainments for a purchase price of approximately AU$174 million, subject to certain adjustments related to the timing of closing
  • With the acquisition of Falls Creek and Hotham in Victoria, Vail Resorts will operate three of the largest ski resorts in Australia including Perisher Ski Resort in New South Wales
  • Upon closing, the 2019 Epic Australia Pass and 2018-19 Epic Pass will provide access to the best skiing and riding in Australia with Falls Creek, Hotham (subject to certain approvals) and Perisher; North America including Whistler Blackcomb, Vail, Park City and more; and Japan with Hakuba Valley and Rusutsu.

22 February 2019  – Vail Resorts, Inc. (NYSE: MTN) announced today that it has entered into an agreement to purchase the ski fields at Falls Creek Alpine Resort (“Falls Creek”) and Hotham Alpine Resort (“Hotham”) in Victoria, Australia. Falls Creek, Victoria’s largest ski resort, features a variety of terrain including fantastic beginner and intermediate trails that are well suited to families and first-timers. Considered the ‘Powder Capital’ of Australia, Hotham is the only resort in the Southern Hemisphere where the village is located on top of the mountain, ensuring ski-in, ski-out opportunities from anywhere in the village. The acquisition, which is subject to certain regulatory approvals, is expected to close prior to the commencement of the Australian snow season in June 2019.

The Company will purchase Australian Alpine Enterprises Holdings Pty. Ltd and all related corporate entities that operate Falls Creek and Hotham resorts from Living and Leisure Australia Group (LLA), a subsidiary of Merlin Entertainments, for a purchase price of approximately AU$174 million, subject to certain adjustments at closing, including an increase (or reduction) in the price for operating losses (or gains) incurred for the period from Dec. 29, 2018 through closing. The acquisition includes ski school, retail/rental, reservation and property management operations at both resort areas.

“We are thrilled to welcome the guests and employees of both Falls Creek and Hotham into the Vail Resorts family and further strengthen our position in Australia, which is one of our most important international markets. The acquisition of the leading mountain resorts in Victoria is part of our continued strategy to drive season pass sales and build loyalty with guests from around the world,” said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts. “After our success connecting with skiers in Sydney and across New South Wales since acquiring Perisher in 2015, we have a huge opportunity to create a deeper connection with Melbourne and broader Victorian skiers and riders.”

“Vail Resorts has a great track record in developing world-class resorts,” said Nick Mackenzie, Managing Director of Merlin Entertainments’ Midway division. “We’re confident that guests, employees and the surrounding communities of Hotham and Falls Creek will benefit from Vail Resorts’ expertise, investment and know-how, and we wish the teams every success for the future.” 

When the transaction closes, the 2019 Epic Australia Pass and 2018-19 Epic Pass will include unlimited, unrestricted access to Falls Creek and is expected to include unlimited, unrestricted access to Hotham, subject to certain approvals. The Epic Australia Pass is the best value season pass for Australians, providing access to world-class skiing and riding at the largest and most celebrated resorts in the U.S., Canada, Japan and Australia. At just AU$839 for adults, AU$471 for students and AU$629 for seniors, the Epic Australia Pass pays for itself in under  four days, with year-around skiing in Australia, Japan, Canada and the Best of the U.S. The Epic Pass offers world-class access including unlimited, unrestricted skiing and riding at Vail, Beaver Creek, Whistler Blackcomb, Breckenridge and more, including limited day access to several resort partners, including Telluride, Sun Valley, Hakuba Valley, Rusutsu and more.

Closing of Transaction

The transaction, which is subject to certain regulatory approvals, is expected to close prior to the commencement of the Australian snow season in June 2019. Operations at the two resorts will continue in the ordinary course of business, as will 2019 winter seasonal hiring. Upon closing, Vail Resorts plans to retain the vast majority of each resort’s employees.

The Company indicated that it expects Falls Creek and Hotham to generate incremental Resort Reported EBITDA of approximately AU$18 million (approximately US$13 million) during its first twelve months of operation following the acquisition, which assumes normal conditions. After closing of the transaction, annual ongoing capital expenditures are expected to increase by approximately AU$4-5 million (approximately US$3-4 million) to support the addition of these two resorts.

Pass Access Details

When the transaction closes, the 2019 Epic Australia Pass and 2018-19 Epic Pass will include unlimited and unrestricted access to Falls Creek and is expected to include unlimited, unrestricted access to Hotham, subject to certain approvals.

  • Epic Australia Pass™: The best value to ski and snowboard the best resorts in the U.S., Canada, Japan and Australia. Ideal for Australians looking for year-round skiing and snowboarding, plus local access across Australia. For AU$839, get unlimited, unrestricted access to Perisher, Falls Creek as well as Hotham (subject to certain approvals) during the 2019 season; unlimited, unrestricted access to Crested Butte in Colorado; Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire; Okemo in Vermont; and Stevens Pass in Washington State during the 2019-20 season. Navigate U.S. holiday restrictions in Breckenridge, Park City, Heavenly and more; ten days at Whistler Blackcomb, Vail and Beaver Creek combined with peak restrictions; five consecutive days with no blackouts at Rusutsu, Japan and Hakuba Valley, Japan during the 2019-2020 season. On sale now at www.epicaustraliapass.com.au.
  • Epic Australia Plus Pass: Pass holders can elevate their skiing and snowboarding experience by upgrading the Epic Australia Pass to avoid holiday restrictions in the best resorts in the U.S. & Canada for unlimited, unrestricted North American access to Whistler Blackcomb, Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Park City, and more for the 2019-2020 ski season. Visit www.epicaustraliapass.com.au.
  • Epic Pass™: The Epic Pass offers world-class access including unlimited, unrestricted skiing and riding at Vail, Beaver Creek, Whistler Blackcomb, Breckenridge and limited day access to several resort partners, including Telluride, Sun Valley, Rusutsu, Hakuba Valley and more. For full access on the pass, please visit www.epicpass.com.