Alterra CEO Rusty Gregory was a recent guest on The Storm Skiing Podcasts. The interview gives some great insight into how Alterra Mountain Co. is handling the pandemic and what the “new normal” will mean for future projects at a wide range of ski resorts within Alterra’s portfolio.
Some highlights from the interview include comments that the company is well-capitalized and that Alterra is still looking to buy more resorts.
What we talked about: How the shutdown progressed and the catalysts behind the ultimate decision to close; how using Crystal Mountain as a laboratory told them social distancing at massive ski areas was unsustainable; the chaos and uncertainty of March 14, which turned out to be shutdown day; the creeping atmosphere of fear in ski towns as the virus spread; the impossible decision of shuttering 15 North American ski resorts in the midst of peak season when hundreds of thousands of skiers are planning on booting up the next day; second-guessing the shutdown decision and how long those doubts lasted; dealing with Angry Ski Bro in the moment; Dude Brah are you really going to shut Squaw when we’re about to get dumped on?; managing thousands of layoffs and furloughs and helping move those who wanted to leave out of town; how Alterra is planning for different re-opening scenarios; losses are significant, but the owners are well-capitalized and this is not a death knell; the status of the capital investments Alterra announced just before the shutdown, including the Steamboat and Tremblant expansions, new lifts at Mammoth, and lodges throughout the system; how Alterra rejiggered the Ikon Pass to acknowledge that “people didn’t get what they paid for”; more Ikon Pass adjustments are coming, including a plan for what will happen in the event of another shutdown; Rusty’s reaction to Vail’s plan to offer up to 80 percent renewal discount for last year’s Epic Pass holders; the thinking behind the Ikon Pass nurse discount; Ikon’s substantial child pass discount; the May 26 Ikon Pass deadline likely won’t change; the logic behind adding Windham to the Ikon Pass; Alterra isn’t done buying, perhaps even in the short term; whether the Windham partnership signals a trend toward adding more close-to-cities feeder-type areas that can supplement longer trips at larger mountains; we could see more Ikon partners in the East; whether Vail buying Peak catalyzed Alterra’s Windham partnership; why Mt. Bachelor, a Powdr Corp resort whose large sister mountains Snowbird, Copper, and Killington are already on the Ikon Pass has just now been added as a partner; the importance of the Pacific Northwest; Rusty’s thoughts on Mt. Baldy’s re-opening experiment and whether any of that could be applied to Alterra’s properties; could we see Squaw Valley or Mammoth re-open this season?; if you love conference calls, become a CEO at a huge ski company during a pandemic, because you will have lots of them; will the southern hemisphere 2020 ski season happen?; optimism for the future.