Fast forward a decade and KSL Capital Partners and Aspen Skiing Company are finally using that buzzword to achieve their own ends. This past week the partnership acquired Intrawest and Mammoth Resorts, adding 10 new ski areas to their rich roster that already includes Aspen Snowmass and Squaw/Alpine.
So who will KSL/Aspen buy next?
If history serves as any indication of what’s to come, KSL/Aspen is far from putting away their credit card and heading home. If they want to compete with the resort group that sold 650,000 of its Epic Passes last year, they’re going to have to create a multi-resort pass of their own.
Right now, a new multi-resort pass for KSL/Aspen looks very promising but like Vail, they’ll have to keep buying resorts to keep up with the competition. Possible acquisitions rumored to be in the mix include Sun Valley, Crested Butte, Snowbird, Revelstoke, and even Banff’s “Big Three.” With the Mountain Collective in serious jeopardy, ski industry insiders believe future KSL/Aspen acquisitions will follow Vail’s lead. In just the past year, Vail scooped up 2 former Mountain Collective resorts in Stowe and Whistler Blackcomb. As one of the founders of the Mountain Collective, look for Aspen to return fire with Mountain Collective acquisitions of their own.
Others believe that future acquisition targets will be based largely on geographic battles between the two giants. With the addition of Mammoth and its 3 participating resorts, KSL/Aspen secured a strong foothold in California but if climate change predictions are correct, they may need to look further north in order to diversify their portfolio. Some believe that KSL/Aspen will look to Banff’s Lake Louise, Sunshine Village, and Norquay as that missing piece of the market share located in western Canada. Together the three ski areas draw millions of skier visits each year from the nearby cities of Edmonton and Calgary.
As the snow continues to melt, we can predict with a fair amount of certainty that we’ll see more acquisitions before the winter of 2017/2018. Just how much consolidation can occur in that span of time has yet to be seen.