Vail Resorts Acquires Europe’s First Swiss-Owned Ski Area

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In an announcement over the weekend, Vail Resorts identified its first acquisition in Europe. As the new majority shareholder, Vail plans to add Switzerland’s Andermatt-Sedrun to the 2022-2023 Epic Pass.

Vail Resorts is expanding its portfolio of properties across the pond for the first time. The mountain skiing giant announced on March 27 that it had acquired a majority stake in Swiss company Andermatt-Sedrun Sport AG.

The company controls and operates all ski-related assets in Andermatt-Sedrun, including ski lifts, most restaurants and a ski school. The resort includes 75 miles of varied terrain (10 miles of high mountain ski area) above a base area filled with upscale restaurants, hotels, and attractions.

Vail Resorts has acquired a 55% stake in Andermatt-Sedrun Sport AG. The operator’s former majority ownership group, Andermatt Swiss Alps AG (ASA), retains a further 40%, and a group of other existing shareholders hold the remaining 5%.

The strategy of Andermatt-Sedrun and Vail

ASA has invested heavily in Andermatt-Sedrun since taking control of the station in 2007. ASA’s majority shareholder, Samih Sawiris, has invested about $1.4 billion in the station’s base area and about $161 million in the ski station.

As a result, the resort offers lavish accommodations like the Chedi Andermatt, a world-class 5-star luxury hotel, as well as luxury condos, studios and apartments. Other entertainment includes a concert hall, an 18-hole championship golf course, and three Michelin-starred restaurants.

The Andermatt-Sedrun 2020 ski plan, by Arne Rohweder; (image/skimap.org)

Vail Resorts’ investment amounted to just under $160 million. Together with him, the company assumed responsibility for the operation and marketing of Andermatt-Sedrun Sport AG. ASA and local stakeholders will remain key members of the group’s board of directors. However, Vail Resorts will appoint one of its employees to chair the board.

In a reportthe company said the investment has long been a strategic target.

“Entering the European ski market is a long-term strategic priority for Vail Resorts,” said Kirsten Lynch, CEO of Vail Resorts.

“The significant investments that ASA and the Sawiris family have made in both the base area and the mountain have created a premium experience with significant capacity for growth from guests from Switzerland, the UK United, other parts of Europe and all over the world.”

Vail seeks to prioritize customer experience with its investment through three key initiatives. It plans to:

  • increase climb capacity with elevator upgrades and replacements;
  • improving snow conditions through snowmaking improvements; and
  • improve and develop mountain catering.

New resort joins Epic Pass, expected to retain staff

Per Vail, the parties expect the transaction to close before the 2022-2023 ski and touring season. It requires the consent of a third party to proceed. Subject to the closing date, Vail plans to include unlimited unlimited access to Andermatt-Sedrun on the Epic Pass 2022-2023.

Andermatt-Sedrun will join 26 other European resorts on the Epic Pass – Vail partners with resorts like Skirama Dolomiti in Italy and Arlberg in Austria without participation.

Vail said he expects only a few changes to Andermatt-Sedrun’s staff and day-to-day operations. Along with ASA, he is seeking to retain all of the station’s current employees and its existing operational infrastructure. It hopes to preserve local expertise among staff and a “local, independent focus”.

The 2021-2022 operations of Andermatt-Sedrun will continue as planned.

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