The post Vail Resorts & Alterra Don’t Care About Snowboarding/Skiing appeared first on agnarchy.com.

" />
Snowboard Iskola

It’s been over a decade since Vail Resorts launched the Epic Pass. Ever since then, Vail Resorts has been buying snowboard and ski areas across the globe, expanding their reach to a more and more broad and well heeled client base. It’s been such a driving force in the industry that KSL partnered with Henry Crown and Company, owners of Aspen Skiing Company, in order to start Alterra and launch the Ikon Pass. The Indy Pass was launched in order to help combat these behemoths, afraid they would shutter smaller areas. Largely to make sure that Vail and Ikon doesn’t pull everyone away from businesses that are happy just being sustainable rather than always growing their capital value.

This can be seen most recently with the announcement from Vail Resorts that they will start charging $30 a day over weekends and holidays for parking at Stowe. There are few things that are more easy money than a parking lot. It has high turnover, low maintenance, and functionally zero staff. This is the closest you can get to money growing on trees, and it’s more free than that. From Stowe alone, Vail stands to profit $3,000,000 per winter. This will also come at the cost of the local culture that made these places feel comfortable to you and I. It seems that $1,910,000,000 in revenue and being valued at $9,493,000,000 isn’t enough for Vail.

No, there was no exaggeration.

In the beginning, the multi resort passes were a good deal. For many customers, they still are. You can ride legendary mountains of your childhood dreams for…cheap. Vail Resorts buys your local hill, and now your season pass works at their flagship resorts as well as at home? Hell. Yes. Stephen’s Pass here I come. But it was better for Vail because they had opportunity capture of your business. The target audience isn’t you and I, it is wealthy enough to eat and drink on sight, and especially those who would fill resort owned hotel rooms. They don’t care about the money from the lower middle class, because they don’t have enough of it. Vail and Alterra only want our business because it’s our chatter and employment that keeps those mountains open. And typically keeps them operating at poverty wages instead of something that would let parents raise their children in town.

Savvy travelers can still dirtbag their way around all the legendary mountains that have been swept up by Alterra and Vail Resorts. Buy the multi-resort pass, build a van, and head out on the road. You can even rent a couch from locals on AirBNB trying to pay bills, but that is getting more difficult to find given how houses are now investment properties in any major mountain town. But it seems anymore like we are just digging our own graves. Year after year another legendary name, or three, falls to the Epic/Ikon conglomerates.

Season pass sales have never really been the money maker for snowboard and ski areas. It was a way to let the locals in, and to guarantee food and beverage sales to them. You’ll spend a few hundred to a couple thousand on food and beverages over the course of a season, largely out of convenience. Buy the season pass to make your hobby cheaper so that you’re just “at the hill”. The after work bar crowd at Michigan snowboard areas is great. But financially, nothing compares to property management and paid parking lots. Get people into hotel rooms at high enough demand that the per night prices go up. Get enough people to come to town and see how cute it is, and then they start competing over condos, too.

This is what happens every time a quiet town gets too popular. Towns can’t support the volume, so the wealthy start bidding wars that price out everyone who actually lives there. Everyone who actually does anything to make the town run can’t afford to live within an hours drive anymore. The average single family house price for Aspen hit $12,000,000 in April of 2022. What school teacher, general practitioner doctor, or ski patroller can afford that? None of them.

When the money savvy well heeled vacationer realizes why the locals all gave up on the American Dream for a life in the mountains, they start throwing money around. The only thing that doesn’t get more expensive is labor costs. Humans should be cheap, even when the housing is exorbitant. Industry creates efficiency of cost, and the easiest way to do that is to make the labor cheap.

Before the hotel and condo’s went up, you could see the mountain from here.

What’s worse is everyone who is waiting for their local governments to do something about it. But they need to make money just like every entity, and have also realized the tourists are more valuable to that end than locals. The sale on a multi million dollar commercial property generates a lot of tax revenue. The sale of each room by the night makes a wonderfully steady stream of income. On the surface of it, why would the state fix it? They don’t care about you anymore than the resorts. The real estate industry is more lucrative than the tourism industry, and we’ve turned life into a numbers game.

While Vail Resorts may be going after parking, it’s old news for Alterra. While Aspen Skiing Company, owned by the same family as Alterra, could have ran top to bottom snow making for the cost of their re-branding efforts, they didn’t. Instead the expanded their superficial market by launching their own clothing brand, Aspen X. Buying the 686 factory to make production costs cheap, and then even pairing with Prada to make a $10,000 outerwear ensemble.

They do not care about you, they do not care about snowboarding. It’s time we as snowboarders got back to our roots. Small mountains, creative riding, and dirtbagging in parking lots. Let Vail Resorts destroy their towns, leave Alterra for the extravagantly wealthy. We’ll go build new ones, just like the 10th Mountain Veterans who built access to this hobby the first time.


The post Vail Resorts & Alterra Don’t Care About Snowboarding/Skiing appeared first on agnarchy.com.