Vail Resorts acquires Hotham and Falls Creek, for real this time

Hotham
Hotham, Victoria.

The rumours were rife prior to Christmas that Vail Resorts was purchasing both Hotham and Falls Creek in Australia. However no official word was made by either party by the end of the year and those same rumours began to fade in the new year.

We can now confirm today that the worst kept secret in Australian ski industry history is a secret no more. Vail Resorts is officially acquiring the two Victorian Resorts for AU$174 million according to a press release from the publicly listed company, making it three Australian resorts on the Epic Pass including Vail owned Perisher in New South Wales. 

Vail Resorts, Inc 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.

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.”

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.

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, Japanduring the 2019-2020 season. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 

Vail Resorts will continue to honour previously sold 2019 Hero Pass products for both Falls Creek and Hotham.

Join our Miss Snow It All Australia Deals and Chatter Facebook group.

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.

Share your thoughts