I would argue that they are already divesting. These multi-resort passes and higher walk-up day tickets force skiers to purchase early. So rather than income based on how good the eastern season is, Vail gets guaranteed income every year in the form of season passes.
The eastern resorts don't matter. Vail knows that the coastal temperatures are the first to fluctuate and that the east coast skiing conditions will suffer. The hope is that passholders will just fly west, where skiing will still exist at higher elevations.
Overall I really don't see a point in East Coast ski area expansions. Now expansions out in Colorado or Utah I could get behind.
Not to sound like a jerk, but you really shouldn't argue they're divesting when Vail bought Peak and Alterra bought Sugarbush in the last few months. That is the polar opposite of what it means to divest.
If eastern places don't matter, Vail and Alterra shouldn't be buying out here. You must think they're compete morons.
Getting people to buy earlier smooths earnings year over year. It doesn't necessarily hurt earnings in the aggregate. Resorts might lose out in big years, but they win out in lean years.
I don't know how long you've skied for, but the snowmaking improvements made in the last ~15 years have made a huge impact on the reliability of conditions by Christmas vacation week. This makes the average consumer more likely to be willing to pre-commit. Not less. Just look at how many trails a place like Hunter has open vs Plattekill. Back in the 90s, Killington and Sunday River were the only two that I can remember who could open significant terrain by Christmas. Now, most "major" resorts can. If you're nostalgic for the good old "pre-global warming" days of the 60s and 70s, I'd implore you to read up on how resorts fared in below average snow years.
Again, not to sound disparaging, but asking why anyone would expand in the east is a bad question. A better one is what will Vail and Alterra do to alieviate crowding at places like Mt. Snow? Will they expand their current mountains, buy more, or do nothing?
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