To reach the large Midwestern market of skiers and snowboarders, Vail Resorts announced Thursday the addition of two Midwest ski areas: Afton Alps and Mount Brighton. What's more, Summit locals with the Epic Pass, Epic Local, Summit Value and Epic-7-day have instant access at the newest ski areas.
As part of the acquisition, Vail Resorts plans to enhance both the on-mountain and base area experience at each ski area.
"We plan to bring state-of-the-art racing, terrain parks, coaching and technology to the guest experience. We also will connect these urban ski areas to our world-class resorts in Colorado, California and Nevada with new season pass offerings, providing the chance to experience the best skiing and riding locally and in the West," said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts.
These enhancements will include redesigned and updated terrain parks, coaching and instruction for all levels of skiers and riders, dedicated racing programs, expanded dining and entertainment options at the base area and integrated technology and social media programs like EpicMix, EpicMix Photo and EpicMix Racing.
Summit County's Minnesotan population, many of whom grew up riding and skiing at areas like Afton, are looking forward to the convenience from the additions.
Kelly Harber of Breckenridge said the addition is convenient since she still visits the state often, though "it will be strange to feel Vail's presence at the small, local spot" she skied at as a child.
"It will be really convenient for me as a native Minnesotan to have access to Afton," Harber said.
"Last winter I was riding Afton, looking forward to moving out to the mountain - to Vail territory," Harber said. "Now when I go back to Minnesota, we'll have a little piece of it there. Part of Afton's appeal for me was always its shabby, homey feel and I'm sure people will miss that, but it could definitely use some infrastructure in certain areas - it will be fun to see how (Vail Resorts) will update the parks."
Matthew Fredericks, who moved to Breck from Lakeville, Minn. five years ago, said he is excited for his friends back home.
"I think it will be sweet for my friends back home to be able to buy the Epic Pass and be able to come out here and use their passes while they're on vacation," Fredericks said. "I think that Epic Mix will do really well there too because that mountain really doesn't have anything like that."
Vail Resorts has entered into agreements to purchase the two ski areas for $20 million, said Kelly Ladyga, spokeswoman for VR.
Both Afton and Brighton serve major snowsports markets in the Midwest with more than 468,000 active skiers and snowboarders in the nearby Minneapolis, St. Paul and Detroit metropolitan areas, according to a press release.
"We are thrilled to welcome Afton Alps and Mount Brighton to the Vail Resorts family," Katz said. "These acquisitions are part of a new strategy for Vail Resorts to drive season pass sales and build broader guest loyalty by looking at premier smaller ski areas located near major urban markets."
Afton Alps, nearing its 50th anniversary, is the largest ski area near a major city in the Midwest with 48 trails on nearly 300 acres, 18 lifts, four base areas, night skiing and riding, tubing and an 18-hole golf course.
The ski area is located 33 miles from more than two million people and more than 161,000 skiers and snowboarders in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, according to the press release.
Open since 1960, Mount Brighton features 26 trails on 130 acres, six lifts, night skiing and riding and an 18-hole golf course. The ski area is located 43 miles from Detroit and is within reach of more than four million people and more than 307,000 skiers and snowboarders in the Detroit, Lansing and Ann Arbor metropolitan areas.
Effective immediately, Afton Alps and Mount Brighton season pass holders will receive a 25 percent discount off the window rate on lift tickets at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood.