Change is never easy, especially when it comes to the takeover of a ski area. Whether it’s here in Colorado or with our friends up north, the ski industry has seen a lot of changes in recent years. These changes are especially evident with the 2016 purchase of Canada’s Whistler Blackcomb by Vail Resorts for an astonishing $1.06 Billion. We all knew this takeover was going to be anything but smooth. This brings us to the question: Is Vail Resorts Killing Whistler’s Spirit?
Vail has succeeded in alienating locals even more than by the initial purchase with the release of a new on-mountain app which instead of using familiar Celsius and centimeters, features Fahrenheit and inches. It’s also thought that the pricing of the season-pass, which is priced based on the U.S. dollar rather than the local currency, benefits tourists at the expense of the locals. Vail has canceled the ever popular one- and three-day prepaid lift tickets which were discounted exclusively for Canadians and Washington state residents. This seems to show their deep disregard for locals and indicates their attention is focused on “destination skiers” and tourists.
This was the first season that Whistler was included in the Epic Pass and with Colorado’s record low snowfall this year, Whistler has definitely felt the impact. It was estimated that about 750,000, or 8% of Epic Pass holders ventured north this year making Whistler the most visited ski resort in North America. This brings us back to the question, Is Vail Resorts Killing Whistler’s Spirit? What is going to happen to the Crested Butte spirit now that Crested Butte Mountain Resort has also joined the Epic Pass? It will be interesting to see what changes are in store, both good and perhaps not so good.
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A Skier on Whistler – Photo by Paul Morrison