Vail Resorts has officially announced they have entered an agreement to acquire Crans-Montana Mountain Resort in Switzerland.

Crans-Montana boasts 140 kilometres of ski runs with 1400 metres of vertical and sits in the Valais canton region of Switzerland, two and a half hours from Geneva.

This is the second Swiss resort in the Vail portfolio after acquiring Andermatt in 2022. Rumours have been swirling in recent months

“Crans-Montana is an iconic ski destination in the heart of the Swiss Alps, with a unique heritage, incredible terrain, passionate team, and a community dedicated to the success of the region,” said Kirsten Lynch, Chief Executive Officer of Vail Resorts.

“Our acquisition of the resort aligns to our growth strategy of expanding our resort network in Europe, creating even more value for our Pass Holders and guests around the world. Much like Andermatt-Sedrun, we believe Crans-Montana has a unique opportunity for future growth.”

Vail Resorts is acquiring an 84-percent ownership stake in Remontées Mécaniques Crans Montana Aminona (CMA) SA, which controls and operates all the resort’s lifts and supporting mountain operations, including four retail and rental locations. The company is acquiring an 80-percent ownership stake in SportLife AG, which operates one of the ski schools located at the resort. Vail Resorts is also acquiring 100 percent ownership of 11 restaurants located on and around the mountain.

Vail Resorts plans to include access to Crans-Montana Mountain Resort on select Epic Pass products for the 2024-25 ski and ride season. Crans-Montana Mountain Resort will not be included on the Epic Pass for any remaining part of the 2023-24 ski and ride season after the deal closes.

The Epic Pass currently provides access to Andermatt-Sedrun-Disentis, as well as European partner resorts, including five days at Verbier4Vallées in Switzerland, seven days at Les 3 Vallées in France, seven days at Skirama Dolomiti in Italy and three days at Ski Arlberg in Austria.

In a statement from its Board of Directors, the Association of the Municipality of Crans-Montana added: “Crans-Montana looks forward to working closely with Vail Resorts, which will undoubtedly have a clear, long-term strategy for development, marketing, and providing top-quality guest experience. Vail Resorts will bring new energy to the ski area, positively impacting the entire economic structure of the region of Crans-Montana. Vail Resorts as new owner of the ski area will also have a positive impact on the organization of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in 2027 at Crans-Montana.”

“We look forward to investing to support the growth, sustainability and vitality of the resort and region,” continued Lynch.

“We care deeply about the guest experience and are committed to working with the community, listening and learning from local partners and the resort’s dedicated teams. We share many values with the Crans-Montana community, including a commitment to environmental responsibility and reducing our net-operating footprint.”

Subject to closing adjustments, the valuation for the resort operations is expected to be CHF 118.5 million (204m AUD), including approximately CHF 7 million of debt that will remain in place.

Vail Resorts anticipates that the resort will generate approximately CHF 5 million of EBITDA in its fiscal year ending July 31, 2025, the first full year of operations following the expected closing later in fiscal 2024. Vail Resorts anticipates EBITDA growth over time from the inclusion of the resort on the Epic Pass products, network synergy, and investments in the guest experience.

Subject to the timing of capital project approvals and completion, Vail Resorts is planning to invest approximately CHF 30 million (51.8m AUD) over the next five years in one-time capital spending to elevate the guest experience, and the resort is expected to generate over CHF 15 million of annual EBITDA following these investments and including the impact from incremental Epic Pass sales.

This initial phase of growth of the resort is expected to be primarily driven by operating and marketing initiatives along with capital investments focused on maximizing gastronomy efficiencies and improving and expanding snowmaking capabilities. After closing the transaction, normal annual maintenance capital expenditures for Crans-Montana Mountain Resort are expected to be approximately CHF 3 million.

The transaction is expected to close during the 2023-24 ski and ride season, subject to certain third-party consents. Operations at Crans-Montana Mountain Resort for the 2023-24 winter season will continue in the ordinary course of business. Vail Resorts is committed to retaining the vast majority of employees, the existing operational infrastructure, and local expertise.

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Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.