The travel industry’s biggest loyalty play has moved beyond the ragged peaks of North America to the Snowy Mountains of Australia where Vail Resorts has just bought Perisher, Australia’s biggest ski resort, for AUD176.6m from holdings associated with billionaire James Packer.
For its money, Vail gets not only infrastructure and forecast EBITDA of around AUD20 million during its first twelve months of operation, but also access to an increasingly powerful and growing cohort of skiers. In simple terms, affluent Australians have gone snow crazy.
“This acquisition is part of Vail Resorts’ continued strategy to drive season pass sales and build loyalty with guests from around the world,” said chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts, Rob Katz of the group’s first acquisition outside North America.
“Australia is one of the most important international markets for ski resorts across the Northern Hemisphere, generating an estimated over 1 million skier visits annually to resorts in North America, Japan and Europe.
“We see this as a ground-breaking acquisition that will dramatically enhance the connection between our company and Australian skiers and riders.”
Perisher has been held by the extremely wealthy Packer family for many years.
The deal includes the resort areas of Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Blue Cow and Guthega, along with ski school, lodging, food and beverage, retail/rental and transportation operations..
Perisher’s Freedom Pass goes on sale this week for $749 and now include access to Vail-owned resorts Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado, Park City and Canyons in Utah and Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada.
The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015.