Perisher boost firmly in Vail Resorts’ plans

Vail Resorts chief executive Rob Katz. Picture: Renee Nowytarger.

The world’s largest ski operator, the New York-listed $5 billion Vail Resorts, is working on a master plan for its newly acquired Perisher resort, which would ­potentially add more accom­modation, extra snowmaking and ski lifts.

Fresh from buying the 1360ha resort in the NSW skifields from media mogul James Packer for $176.7 million, Vail Resorts chief executive Rob Katz also revealed yesterday the public company is looking to add to its coterie of 13 ski resorts in the US and Australia by buying more international resorts.

“Canada and Japan would be a higher priority,” Katz says.

“We have looked in China, including Harbin and outside Beijing, essentially in the northern part of China.”

Katz says the acquisition of Perisher, coupled with the introduction of the $899 Epic Pass that offers full season access to Perisher plus any of Vail Resorts’ US ski fields, including Beaver Creek and Breckenridge in Colorado, contributed significantly to an increase in Australian arrivals into the US.

We spend more money at our resorts than our competitors. Our goal is to ensure that Perisher retains its leadership

Australians now account for the highest number of foreign visitors to Vail Resorts but he would not specify numbers or percentage increases.

“The US dollar has been very strong, our international visitors to US resorts have been down, all major markets have been down but Australian arrivals are up strongly because of the pass,” Katz says.

“Australians were the only market that was up into Vail Resorts in double-digit figures.’’

Season pass sales were up 68% at Perisher last ski season compared with the previous season, which he attributed to the introduction of the Epic Pass.

All major markets have been down but Australian arrivals are up strongly

Vail Resorts spends $139 million a year across its 13 resorts on improvements, with the company spending heavily on Perisher, including upgrading its ski tube.

Vail Resorts is also improving the capability of radio frequency identification scanning capability so skiers can monitor their performance.

“We spend more money at our resorts than our competitors. Our goal is to ensure that Perisher retains its leadership,” Katz claims.

But Katz would not be drawn on the cost of improvements to Perisher, which sports 40 lifts including T-bars, once the master plan is approved.

This article originally appeared on www.theaustralian.com.au/property.