Vail Resorts buys Falls Creek and Mount Hotham

Mount Hotham is the only Australian resort with the village at the top of the mountain.

Global mountain resort operator, the US-listed Vail Resorts, will control the bulk of Australia’s ski fields after purchasing Victoria’s Falls Creek and Mount Hotham ski resorts in a $174 million deal.

Vail Resorts, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, came to national prominence in 2015 when it bought NSW’s 1214ha Perisher Resort from billionaire James Packer for $176.6 million.

The deal allowed it to launch its Epic Pass which, for the first time, gave Australian skiers access to Perisher as well North America’s Whistler Blackcomb, Vail, and Japan’s Hakuba Valley.

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The vendor of the 450ha Falls Creek Alpine Resort, Victoria’s largest, as well as Hotham Alpine Resorts is Living and Leisure Australia Group, a subsidiary of British-based entertainment and leisure group Merlin Entertainments.

Falls Creek has about 90 runs accessed via 14 lifts with a large variety of terrain, while Hotham is known as the “powder capital” of Australia and is the only ski resort in the southern hemisphere with the village located on top of the mountain.

Hotham sports 13 chairlifts, three terrain parks and 35km of cross-country skiing as well as luxury day spas and 18 restaurants. Vail’s purchase includes the ski school, retail and rental as well as reservation and property management operations at both resorts.

The acquisition is expected to close before the local ski season starts in June.

“After our success connecting with skiers in Sydney and across NSW since acquiring Perisher in 2015, we have a huge opportunity to create a deeper connection with Melbourne and broader Victorian skiers and riders,” says Vail Resorts chairman and chief executive officer Rob Katz in a statement announcing the deal.

Only a few Australian ski resorts are not under the control of overseas groups.

They include Thredbo in NSW, which is owned by Event Hospitality and Entertainment, and Mount Buller in Victoria which is controlled by the Victorian-based Grollo Group of Companies.

Apart from its Australian assets, Vail Resorts, which is based in Colorado, operates 15 mountain resorts including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Crested Butte in Colorado, as well as Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin.

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