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Vail to buy Stowe?

thetrailboss

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He should join the collective, it would help to compete. It's a nice bonus for people. I think it is only human to worry. If he isn't he should be. Worring about your business takes you out of your comfort zone and drives you to think outside the box. SB needs to innovate around this. It's not enough to say the Valley is special and leave it at that. If he does he will be in for a rude awaking IMO.

Exactly. I've said it before, but I don't think they are in the same caliber as Stowe. Not for the last few years. I know that folks say, "well, when there's snow..." and that's my point. Stowe invested a TON in their infrastructure while Sugarbush has been touting the local thing and resting on their laurels. They've done good work with what they have, but they just don't have as deep of pockets.


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jimmywilson69

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Win made a comparison to the eastern equivalent of Jackson, Alta/Bird, etc. EASTERN equivalent. Obviously its nothing like that in real life, but I think he's saying the all around vibe and skiing is like nothing you can find elsewhere in VT.

I don't necessarily disagree with him. Dude is a very smart business man, and is blood passionate about MRV. They will be fine..
 

cdskier

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I also thought the comments about crowding were interesting. However, unless something has changed a lot since 2011 then I would say that Lincoln Peak CAN get pretty crowded. He really focused on the crowding issue.

The new Valley House Quad does make a significant difference. On a non-holiday weekend, I've never waited more than a few minutes at the Bravo/Valley House lifts recently. President's Weekend looked crowded from what I saw on the web cams, although a couple people that I know were there said lines moved quickly and weren't as bad as they looked. I wasn't there personally, so just going on what I heard.
 

deadheadskier

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Exactly. I've said it before, but I don't think they are in the same caliber as Stowe. Not for the last few years. I know that folks say, "well, when there's snow..." and that's my point. Stowe invested a TON in their infrastructure while Sugarbush has been touting the local thing and resting on their laurels. They've done good work with what they have, but they just don't have as deep of pockets.


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If I were a Sugarbush skier I would be very pleased that they don't have the $$$ to have made the investments and changes that Stowe has. I don't have a single local friend in Stowe who doesn't wish the mountain could turn back the clock to pre-Spruce development when it was basically just a ski mountain and not Disneyland. On a holiday weekend you could show up at 10AM and get a parking spot within 50 feet of the Big Pig and just lap that terrain until 1 or so and head to Mansfield for relatively reasonable lines off the Gondola and the 4Runner being practically ski on after 2.

If Sugarbush made similar moves the changes would be Mount Ellen no longer being uncrowded and a hub for exclusive facilities for owners and club members. No public parking at Mount Ellen. 30-40 minutes just to park your car at Lincoln. Massively longer lift lines on all chairs, powder getting tracked out twice as fast. Same season length. All for the benefit of having a bit better snow during lean times between storms and being able to eat a NYC quality lunch in the base lodge cafeteria.

I've never really seen what Win has done as trying to go toe to toe with Stowe, but more a very nice alternative with a different vibe.


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slatham

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Its interesting that Win focused on the easy access to Sugarbush via the various roads. I did not realize the issues with traffic and parking at Stowe on a busy day. Nothing turns me off more than having to allow 1/2 hour+ to the trip due to access road traffic and remote parking......

He also raised a very valid point - will Stowe be even more crowded with people buying into the Epic pass? If I were a SB local I would seriously consider an Epic pass for the Western resorts. But if it means a zoo on even a normal weekend, well that would deter me for sure.

Certainly shaking things up. Does Win counter in some way, or wait and see?
 

snoseek

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I'm happy for anyone that wanted to carry a Stowe pass all these years but couldn't afford to do so. I'm happy more locals will get to ski there. If you're a midweek skier this will be a good deal
 

VTKilarney

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There are lots of Chittenden County and other locals who have no absolutely plans to take a ski trip out west. If Sugarbush priced similarly to Stowe for those folks, they could probably pick up a lot of people who want to avoid the crowds that will descend upon Stowe. But let's be honest. A lot of the locals are price sensitive. The Vermont economy is not exactly a Boston or New York economy. That's why Sugarbush can't take prices for granted as far as the locals are concerned.
 

jimmywilson69

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Is there a lot of day trippers to Stowe on the weekend? I recognize this may seem like a stupid question, but at 3+ hours from Boston and 5+ hours from NYC, its not exactly close to either market.

Are there a lot of regular weekenders that stay for the entire weekend or just ski Saturday with a 6 hour round trip on either end of a ski day?

When I go to Stowe, its for he weekend because it's 8 hours from home. Just curious to what the true demographic is.
 

cdskier

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I've never really seen what Win has done as trying to go toe to toe with Stowe, but more a very nice alternative with a different vibe.

Agreed, I never understand when people keep saying he's trying to compete directly with Stowe. He isn't. Sure he's added a few more upscale lodging offerings, but it is relatively limited and he's still kept the same overall laid back vibe that it is known for. He's also led the way in so many different reasonably priced pass options for many different groups.

I'm happy for anyone that wanted to carry a Stowe pass all these years but couldn't afford to do so. I'm happy more locals will get to ski there. If you're a midweek skier this will be a good deal

Yes, a full regular Epic pass stands to be cheaper than the existing local county midweek passes. And they get the added benefit of being able to use it anytime (and out west of course). Good deal for people that can ski midweek and avoid the weekend crowds.
 

cdskier

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There are lots of Chittenden County and other locals who have no absolutely plans to take a ski trip out west. If Sugarbush priced similarly to Stowe for those folks, they could probably pick up a lot of people who want to avoid the crowds that will descend upon Stowe. But let's be honest. A lot of the locals are price sensitive. The Vermont economy is not exactly a Boston or New York economy. That's why Sugarbush can't take prices for granted as far as the locals are concerned.

Sugarbush's answer for locals would most likely be their existing Mt Ellen options ($539 for unlimited ME only or $795 for unlimited ME + 5 days at LP + spring skiing at LP after ME closes). If you can take advantage of a midweek option, then for $539 you can get unlimited midweek skiing at both LP and ME. If you can ski midweek and are 65+, then the boomer pass at $99 is an absolute steal. (*All prices mentioned are last year's early purchase rates).

Sugarbush's full regular adult pass is also already cheaper than Stowe's 7 day county pass.
 

MadMadWorld

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My real heartbreak is going to come when Vail buys Smuggler's Notch on the cheap, connects the mountains, tears down the old and builds shiny new buildings all over Smuggs. :( At least Madonna will finally have a high-speed quad though.
Sadly this seems inevitable now. Right after Vail makes Hellbrook inbound "hike to" terrain

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thetrailboss

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Win made a comparison to the eastern equivalent of Jackson, Alta/Bird, etc. EASTERN equivalent. Obviously its nothing like that in real life, but I think he's saying the all around vibe and skiing is like nothing you can find elsewhere in VT.

I don't necessarily disagree with him. Dude is a very smart business man, and is blood passionate about MRV. They will be fine..

I did see that. Different than anything in Vermont? Sure. I agree. I also think that it was more than coincidence to use Mountain Collective resorts in that discussion because Stowe was in the MC and now won't be. The MC resorts are also the "independent alternative" to the Epic Pass.




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Here is a gem from the Progressive auditor's report:
Finally, when the State negotiated the lease agreements, it made a crucial error by not stipulating regular opportunities to update the agreements, as the federal government does in its standardized 40-year permits with ski areas. Despite this impediment, the State and the ski resorts could work together to update and improve the leases.

i would wager that vail's attorneys were well aware of the state's ability to block the deal and the resultant blackmail which would accompany such an ability, and baked that into their offer price

and if they didn't, then shame on them
 

mbedle

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Has anyone looked at the Master Plan for Sugarbush? If that comes to fruition, they will be a direct carbon copy of what Spruce Peak is today.
 

speeddemon

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Has anyone looked at the Master Plan for Sugarbush? If that comes to fruition, they will be a direct carbon copy of what Spruce Peak is today.

I'm curious, can you provide some more detail on this post? From a real estate perspective? From a trail system perspective? Thanks.
 

BenedictGomez

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Pretty strong opinion for a guy from New Jersey

No idea what that even means. I've skied Vermont extensively from the middle-up. The only resorts in Vermont I'm not familiar with are s.VT, like Magic, Stratton, Okemo, etc....

If you read fear in that, you don't know Win.

I don't know Win, but I would wager a lager sum of money that I've read more CEO statements than 99% of posters on this board (regretfully, as they're almost universally painfully boring), and after you've read a few thousand statements like that, you get pretty good at quickly discerning their motivation, their hidden (they erroneously think well) agenda, and at reading between the lines. So you're right, I dont know the guy, but I'd stake my life on his being worried by Vail/Stowe after reading his open letter.

Here is a gem from the Progressive auditor's report:
Finally, when the State negotiated the lease agreements, it made a crucial error by not stipulating regular opportunities to update the agreements, as the federal government does in its standardized 40-year permits with ski areas. Despite this impediment, the State and the ski resorts could work together to update and improve the leases.

SHORTER VERSION: Government employees are stupid and it's "Bambi vs. Godzilla" when we deal with private business.
 

BenedictGomez

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I thought the best part of the email Win sent out was when he compared SB to Squaw or Jackson Hole. He must be high on something. If anyone doesn't think he is worried, they are delusional.

The comparison to Alta, Aspen, etc. was laughable. I love Sugarbush, but it is nothing compared to those resorts. Alta has the snow and a real community feel like MRG. Aspen is, well, Aspen. Even Aspen Highlands. Jackson Hole? Not even close. Squaw Valley? Host an Olympics and then come back and talk to us.

I didn't bother to mention that part, but I actually found that part of the letter more "embarrassing" than delusional.

I don't have a single local friend in Stowe who doesn't wish the mountain could turn back the clock to pre-Spruce development when it was basically just a ski mountain and not Disneyland. On a holiday weekend you could show up at 10AM and get a parking spot within 50 feet of the Big Pig and just lap that terrain until 1 or so and head to Mansfield for relatively reasonable lines off the Gondola and the 4Runner being practically ski on after 2.

I keep reading these horror stories of driving to and parking at Stowe, is this only a Christmas/MLK/PDW phenomena? I only ski Stowe one or 2 Saturdays a year for the last 4'ish years, but I've not experienced nightmare gridlock or 30 minutes to park, so either I've been lucky or I assume it's a holiday thing, or a very recent thing as I didn't ski Stowe at all last year. This is very saddening if the place has truly been destroyed by aggressive planning.
 

thetrailboss

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Not to turn this into another Sugarbush thread, but you have to admit that Win is indeed concerned. They've always been sandwiched in between Stowe to the north and its lofty reputation and Killington to the south and its reputation. Stowe was just sold to a HUGE ski resort player. And I've read that Killington's Base Area expansion was finally approved....whether it happens or not we have yet to see. So once again Sugarbush has to try to distinguish itself from these two.

And for the record I like Win. Always have. He's done a great job. But let's understand that it is a tough business and competition is fierce.
 

thetrailboss

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Agreed, I never understand when people keep saying he's trying to compete directly with Stowe. He isn't. Sure he's added a few more upscale lodging offerings, but it is relatively limited and he's still kept the same overall laid back vibe that it is known for. He's also led the way in so many different reasonably priced pass options for many different groups.

Ugh. I feel like a broken record. They've ALWAYS had to compete with Stowe to the north and Killington to the south I'm pretty sure that he either said at a passholder meeting I attended or said on an AZ Challenge that they compared themselves to Stowe and used the same approach--not to underprice their product (like ASC did) and to focus on offering quality over quantity. Hence, why they always were on the upper end of season pass prices since he took over.

That said, their pass offerings have responded to pressure by becoming so fragmented.
 
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