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Who Owns Ski Resorts? Mountain Ownership Explained

Who Owns Ski Resorts Mountain Ownership Explained

Have you ever wondered who owns ski resorts and how the ownership works? While it’s easy to think that ski resorts actually own the mountains they are located on, this is not always the case.

In most countries, large and mid-large ski resorts are owned by private corporations, while some small ones are owned by community non-profit organizations. 

A good example of a non-profit, community-based organization resort is Mt Ashland located in Southern Oregon. 

In Canada and the US, there are about 637 ski resorts, and out of these ski areas, 71 of the most popular and biggest ones are owned by five different corporations.

The five dominating corporations in North America include Vail Resorts, Alterra, Aspen, Powdr Corp, and EPR Properties.

Some of these corporations are publicly held, while others are owned by families or private investors. 

The consolidation of ski areas has arguably had a positive influence on the ski industry. One of the most significant effects is cost reduction of season passes and better deals for skiers. 

Keep reading to find out the number of ski areas under the ownership of Vail Resorts and other popular corporations in the ski industry. 

How Many Ski Areas Do Vail Resorts Own?

How Many Ski Areas Do Vail Resorts Own

According to Finance.yahoo, Vail Resorts Network of Ski Areas has a market capitalization of $10.34 billion. They currently operate 41 ski areas in the US, Canada, Australia, and Switzerland. 

Some of the most popular ones include Vail, Beaver Creek, Kirkwood Mountain, Breckenridge, Whistler Blackcomb, Park City Utah, Perisher Ski Resort, and Keystone. 

Vail Resorts epic pass holders can ski in more than 60 resorts as the corporation operates and partners with many resorts in different parts of the world.

If you want to ski in popular resorts like Beaver Creek, Keystone, Vail, or Whistler Blackcomb throughout the season, you can purchase an epic pass for unlimited and unrestricted access. 

You can also buy a military epic pass that provides access to all Vail-owned and operated ski areas in the US, Canada, and Australia. 

However, it’s important to keep in mind that military epic passes do not grant access to partner resorts like the Canadian Rockies, Telluride, Hakuba Valley, and more. 

Here is a list of all the ski areas that Vail Resorts own and operate:

  • Mount Snow, Vermont 
  • Vail Mountain Resort, Colorado
  • Beaver Creek, Colorado
  • Breckenridge, Colorado
  • Keystone Resort, Colorado
  • Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia, Canada (75%)
  • Mount Sunapee Resort, New Hampshire 
  • Northstar California Resort, California 
  • Park City Mountain Resort, Utah
  • Kirkwood Mountain Resort, California
  • Mad River Mountain, Ohio
  • Jack Frost, Pennsylvania 
  • Perisher Ski Resort, Australia
  • Falls Creek, Australia
  • Hotham Alpine, Australia 
  • Andermatt-Sedrun, Switzerland (55%)
  • Hunter Mountain, New York
  • Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Colorado
  • Wilmot Mountain, Wisconsin
  • Wildcat, Washington Valley, New Hampshire
  • Attitash Mountain Resort, New Hampshire 
  • Crotched Mountain, New Hampshire  
  • Whitetail Resort, Pennsylvania  
  • Snow Creek, Missouri
  • Hidden Valley, Missouri
  • Heavenly Mountain, California
  • Stevens Pass, Washington
  • Stowe Mountain Resort, Vermont
  • Seven Spring Mountain Resort, Pennsylvania 
  • Hidden Valley Resort, Pennsylvania 
  • Paoli Peaks, Indiana
  • Roundtop Mountain Resort, Pennsylvania 
  • Okemo Mountain Resort, Vermont
  • Alpine Valley, Ohio
  • Brandywine Resort, Ohio
  • Boston Mills, Ohio
  • Afton Alps, Minnesota 
  • Laurel Mountain, Pennsylvania
  • Big Boulder, Pennsylvania 
  • Liberty Mountain Resort, Pennsylvania
  • Mount Brighton, Michigan

How Many Resorts Does the Alterra Mountain Company Own?

How Many Resorts Does the Alterra Mountain Company Own

Alterra Mountain Company owns 15 ski resorts. It started in 2018 when Aspen Skiing Company and KSL made a joint venture. 

Skiers can purchase the IKON Pass to gain access to 36 of the most iconic mountains and ski areas around the world. 

Alterra Mountain Company operates on about 20,000 skiable acres and welcomes about 6 million skiers and snowboarders each ski season.

Here is a list of the resorts owned by Alterra Mountain Company:

  • Solitude Mountain, Utah
  • Big Bear Mountain, California
  • Snowshoe, West Virginia
  • Steamboat Ski Area, Colorado
  • Stratton, Vermont
  • Palisades Tahoe, California
  • Blue Mountain, Ontario
  • Crystal Mountain Resort, Washington
  • Deer Valley, Utah
  • June Mountain, California
  • Mammoth Mountain, California
  • Snow Summit, California
  • Sugarbush Resort, Vermont
  • Tremblant, Quebec
  • Winter Park Resort, Colorado

Do Ski Resorts Own the Mountain They are Located on? 

Do Ski Resorts Own the Mountain they are Located on 

No, not all ski resorts own the mountain or land they are located on. There are several ownership structures that define different ski areas across the world. 

One of the most common structures in North America is whereby a specific ski resort owns a mountain entirely. 

In other cases, ski resorts owned and operated by private individuals or corporations occupy a mountain or land owned by the government, such as the US Forest Service. 

Some ski resorts occupy mountains that are a combination of both public and private land. 

When a ski resort occupies land it doesn’t own entirely, it has to pay annual rent to the owner. This rent is often a certain percentage of the resort’s gross income, ranging from 3 to 5 percent. 

The US Forest issues a ski permit on federal land to allow the resort owners to operate the slopes and run ski lifts. 

How Much is the Ski Industry Worth?

How Much is the Ski Industry Worth

With more than 100 million skiers hitting the slopes every year, the ski industry is definitely set to be worth billions of dollars. 

In the US alone, the estimated worth of the ski and snowboard industry is 4.3 billion dollars as of December 2022. 

While the industry experienced a downtrend during the Covid-19 pandemic, it seems to be slowly recovering as participation is on the rise. 

More and more people are now freely visiting their favorite ski resorts, so the revenue is expected to go higher. 

How Much Does It Cost to Run a Ski Area?

How Much Does It Cost to Run a Ski Area

The cost of running a ski area varies widely depending on the size of the resort. Some large resorts need millions to run each ski season while tiny ones can run with about $250,000 or even less. 

In general, running a ski resort is expensive as there are a lot of things to be done to ensure that skiers and snowboarders have a great experience on the slopes. 

The resort has to pay their stuff to run it, power the snowmaking machines, build and operate lifts, and more. 

And since skiers and snowboarders don’t take ski holidays every month, some ski areas choose to offer some summer activities like hiking and mountain biking. Such summer activities add to their income and boost their annual profits. 

Over the past few years, large resorts have taken over smaller ski areas by making it hard for them to cope with the competition. 

So, the smaller resorts have been forced to close down or turn to non-profit community organizations where locals can hit the slopes at an affordable cost. 

Climate change has also had a negative impact on small and medium-sized resorts due to shortened snow seasons. 

When ski resorts receive less snowfall than needed, they are forced to rely heavily on snowmaking machines, which can be pretty expensive to purchase and power. 

Overall, the success of a ski area, whether large or small, requires heavy investment as sustainability can only be achieved with adequate finances. 

If a ski resort cannot quickly adapt and respond to unforeseen changes like less snowfall, the chances of being knocked out of the market are very high. 

How Much Money Do You Need to Buy a Ski Resort?

How Much Money Do You Need to Buy a Ski Resort

Large resorts can be worth millions or even billions of dollars, while smaller ones can cost anywhere between $150,000 and $500,000. 

In 2015, a small ski area was out for sale with a price of $149,000, which included two working ski lifts, two trucks, a weather station, snowmobiles, and a few buildings. 

This may seem like a small amount but when you add the lift maintenance cost, permit and insurance fees, employees’ salaries, and land rent, the total annual cost could shoot up to $450,000. 

FAQs

FAQs

Q: Do the Sacklers Own a Ski Resort?

A: No, the Sacklers don’t currently own a ski resort. The Sacklers family sold their ski resorts to Vail Resorts in 2019. 

Vail Resorts had also purchased other resorts including those operated by Peak Resorts Ski Areas where the Sacklers family held the majority shares. 

According to Why.org, it is estimated that the Sacklers family made about $60 million from the agreement with Vail Resorts and Peak Resorts.

Q: Do the Sacklers Own Vail Resorts?

A: No, the Sacklers do not own Vail Resorts. Instead, the Sacklers family sold their ski areas to Vail Resorts, who had also purchased Peak Resorts ski areas in a deal worth $260 million. 

Q: Does Vail Own the Mountains?

A: Yes, Vail owns a number of mountain resorts, from Hunter Mountain, New York, to Wildcat Mountain, New Hampshire. 

Some of the major resorts that Vail Resorts own include Vail Mountain Resort, Mount Snow, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Park City, and Perisher. 

Q: Who Owns the Colorado Kirkwood Mountain Resort?

A: Vail Resorts. Vail Resorts bought the California Kirkwood Ski Resort in 2012. 

With Vail’s acquisition of this Resort, Kirkwood lift pass holders gained access to other mountain resorts owned by Vail resorts in California, including Northstar and Heavenly Mountain Resort. 

Bottom Line 

Bottom Line

The ski and snowboarding business is one of the most lucrative industries in the US and ski resort owners are making huge profits as many skiers head to the slopes each year. 

While it can be expensive to start and run a ski resort, owners enjoy large profits obtained from ski tickets, season passes, restaurants, and hotels. 

And in most cases, ski resort owners are corporations, families, and individual investors. Some ski areas are community-based and run by a non-profit organization to provide local skiers with ideal ski slopes. 

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Picture of Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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