Aspen Skiing Co. to purchase Mammoth Mountain, sister resorts

On Wednesday, just two days after sending shockwaves through the skiing industry with its $1.5 billion purchase of Intrawest Resorts, Aspen Skiing Company/KSL Capital Partners alliance announced in a press release that it would be purchasing Mammoth Resorts and its four subsidiary California ski resorts for an undisclosed sum of money.

The purchase gives Aspen Skiing Company control of four Southern California resorts — Mammoth Mountain, Bear Mountain, Snow Summit and June Mountain. Those four resorts feature over 6,000 acres of skiable terrain and collectively host over 2 million annual skier/snowboarder visits according to the press release on the purchase.

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The purchase gives the Aspen/KSL Partnership control of five California resorts. Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Mountain

The purchase now gives the Aspen Skiing Company/KSL Capital Partners team control of the resort with the highest peak elevation in California (Mammoth), and two of the five biggest resorts in terms of skiable acreage in the state (Mammoth and Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows).

Currently, after a record-setting season, Mammoth and Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows have the two highest snow base depths in the United States.

“Mammoth has been Southern California’s mountain home since 1948,” Rusty Gregory, chairman and chief executive officer of Mammoth Resorts, said in the press release. “After doubling down on our offerings to Southern California with the purchase of Snow Summit and Bear Mountain in 2014, joining this new venture led by Aspen and KSL is the next logical chapter in the story of Mammoth Resorts. This new platform, built around a collective passion for the mountains and our commitment to the people who visit, work and live there, is exactly what the ski resort business needs.”

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Mammoth has been absolutely pounded by snow this season, and is currently featuring a 330 inch base. Photo: Courtesy of Peter Morning

“We have taken great pride in our ownership of Mammoth over the last 12 years … Together with Mammoth’s talented management team, we successfully navigated a very tumultuous period,” said Barry Sternlicht, chairman and chief executive officer of the Starwood Capital Group, which owned the controlling stake in Mammoth Resorts, said in the release. “We had greater plans for Mammoth but the Great Recession and then some less favorable weather, interfered with our strategic aspirations in a finite life investment vehicle. We know Aspen and KSL have the experience, commitment, and balance sheet to help make our vision a reality.”

Per the Denver Post and POWDER the acquisitions by Aspen Skiing Company this week are a direct shot at its rival — Vail Resorts — in the battle of ski industry supremacy.

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The rivalry between Vail Resorts and Aspen Skiing Company in the battle for industry supremacy is heating up. Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Mountain

“Wednesday’s news is nothing short of a shot across the bow of industry giant Vail Resorts,” the Denver Post wrote in its recap of the purchase. “It was no secret that Vail chief Rob Katz had long pined for Mammoth, with its drive-up proximity to southern California’s more than 23 million residents promising to turbo-charge sales of his company’s popular Epic Pass.”

The Post also cited unnamed sources close to the acquisition as saying that a collective pass for Aspen Skiing Company’s 15 ski properties — a la Vail’s popular Epic Pass — would almost certainly come to fruition in the near future.

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Mammoth is home to one of the longest ski season’s in the United States, with this season expected to run through July 4. Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Mountain

While the specifics of the transaction weren’t published, in 2005 Mammoth Resorts changed hands for $365 million. The deal is expected to close in the third fiscal quarter of 2017. Mammoth will continue to honor all of its 2017-18 season passes currently on sale, including the Mountain Collective.

Read more about the ongoing consolidation movement in skiing

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