Is Thredbo next in Aspen’s sights?
In light of Vail’s purchase of Perisher in 2015 and the current state of the market, this is a deal that would make a lot of sense.
And guess what? Sources have told The Snow Gauge that Aspen CEO Mike Kaplan has been spending quite some time in Thredders. Coincidence?
Thredbo is currently owned by Event Hospitality and Entertainment Ltd (formerly Amalgamated Holdings) which also has the likes of Rydges Hotels and Event Cinemas on its books.
The 50 year head lease of Thredbo with the NSW state government was re-negotiated in 2007; and while I’m no expert on such matters I assume these things are transferable … if the price is right.
Thredbo has always positioned itself as the upmarket choice for the well-healed skier and snowboarder, a more select destination than Perisher if you will.
Already working with Aspen on the Collective Pass, it appears to be a good fit with the American giant’s brand.
The practicalities help too. Like a number of US resorts, Australia is their key international market, a market which is no doubt getting eroded by Vail and its Epic Pass.
While Perisher dominates the winter numbers, Thredbo is a more attractive purchase in other ways. While the former sits idle after a four-month season at best Thredbo is a year-round village ( also very Aspen like) with mountain biking, walks and festivals throughout the year.
Albeit one that needs a good spit and polish.
And perhaps that’s where an Aspen can come in and get some upgrades done around the resort. Unlike the decentralised Perisher, the building blocks of a village and secondary focal point in Friday Flat, are already in place.
And what about the pass I hear you ask? A yearly ticket with the likes of Aspen, Mammoth, Squaw, Steamboat and Thredbo would provide a decent alternative to Epic. At the moment the Collective Pass just isn’t in the same ball park.
Then there’s the bigger picture. The concentration of more and more resorts in the hands of the few invariably has consequences. A lack of competition, eventual price hikes, real estate becoming the focal point?
They’re legitimate concerns but if you’re a regular season pass holder say at Perisher it’s hard to argue – at least at this stage – that the net result hasn’t been positive.
Besides, as I wrote about here if you think that Vail are gaming you by getting your pass money and then hitting you up every other step of the way there are ways around it.
A definite loser in one such scenario would be some of the fantastic Canadian resorts (Vail-owned Whistler aside) who’d surely be marginalised in the international market. Unless of course some of them were bought out – which you certainly wouldn’t rule out either.
So there it is people. A bit of speculation but not unwarranted in the circumstances I’d suggest. Asbo or Thredpen anyone?
And if it all comes off? Then I’m volunteering to become Thredbo’s Hunter S. Thompson. Just pass me a gun and some quaaludes …