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Vail buys Wilmot Mountain, WI

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

I know there has been some discussion of this in this thread, but since it was kind of buried I thought a post about the sale would be worthwhile. Vail has purchased Wilmot Mountain outside of Chicago. No financial details have been release at the moment. 

post #2 of 23

FYI: it's known as "Wilmot Mountain" not "Wilmot Valley"

post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nathanvg View Post
 

FYI: it's known as "Wilmot Mountain" not "Wilmot Valley"

 

Thanks, not sure where I got valley from. I think I was reading another thread about something valley and got some wires crossed when I saw this one. 

post #4 of 23

  By buying Wilmot Mountain - Vail just sold about 10,000 additional Epic Passes (my poor speculation). It is estimated that around 800,000 skiers live in Milwaukee/Chicago area and no doubt many of them would be attracted to cheap pass that offers day area skiing plus yearly week long trip to other MTN owned/operated resorts. 

 

  Upside of that is that "other" ski hills around Chicago/Milwaukee will get less crowded with people going to Wilmot that would otherwise ski at Alpine Valley, Devil's Head, Cascade Mountain or Chestnut Mountain.

 

  Downside could be that MTN areas in the west might and will get more crowded with sudden influx of Chicago/Milwaukee skiers. Especially more popular ones like Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City.  

 

  Few years ago I posted (semi jokingly) that it is not out of realm of possibility that MTN might start their own airline. With foothold in major airline hubs of the Midwest - that is about the only piece of ski vacation money that MTN is leaving on the table for someone else. 

 

  Again, I am not a big fan of MTN for various reasons and not a fan of their resorts. I guess I would ski them if I do not have choice (and at the rate they are going - I might not have a choice very soon - every area might be owned by MTN :)). But I have to admit that MTN is well oiled "money machine". 

 

  In any case - this is good news for a whole lot of skiers in these areas.

post #5 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by tylrwnzl View Post
 

 

Thanks, not sure where I got valley from. I think I was reading another thread about something valley and got some wires crossed when I saw this one. 


One more FYI on the new thread title: Wilmot Mountain is in WI not IL

post #6 of 23

mod note: thread title fixed

post #7 of 23

If you crash through the fence on the south end of the area you will be in IL.

post #8 of 23

Wilmot Mountain, Makes the big show. 

 

Now there will be a CME Shuttle service out of O'Hare every 30 minutes to get there. (CME=Vail owned Colorado Mountain Express shuttle service.)

post #9 of 23

Wilmot! OMG I haven't thought about that place for decades. My first pair of skis (Head 360's) were stolen there on the very first day I owned them - man did that ever suck.:mad

post #10 of 23

Looks like Wilmot is going to have three new chairlifts by next season.  Vail is spending $13 million on the lifts, as well as other improvements.  The lifts not being replaced will be refurbished.  The purchase price was $20 million.

 

http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/travel/ct-wilmot-renovations-travel-0327-20160310-story.html

 

"Improvements at Wilmot will include new and refurbished lifts, a modernized lodge and increased snow-making capabilities, Colorado-based Vail Resorts announced Thursday. The renovations are expected to be finished by the start of the 2016-17 ski season."

 

See link above for more info.

post #11 of 23

It's real interesting to watch Vail buy established local hills recognising the fact that without "fedder hills" out in the boondocks then all the "destination" resorts will be fighting for very a limited clientele. Also good to see that Vail would invest in the infrastructure of these local hills to shore up local market share. DC/Baltimore and the Pittsburgh/western Ohio market is not yet served by a Vail owned local hill. It will be interesting to see how Vail plays those markets.

 

To all yinz Mid-A skiers, think how different Seven Springs would be right now if Gillett Holdings (Vail) had been able to complete the purchase back in the 1990s.

 

 

( a little "investment' here  by the mothership would be nice too)

post #12 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurel Hill Crazie View Post
 

It's real interesting to watch Vail buy established local hills recognising the fact that without "fedder hills" out in the boondocks then all the "destination" resorts will be fighting for very a limited clientele. Also good to see that Vail would invest in the infrastructure of these local hills to shore up local market share. DC/Baltimore and the Pittsburgh/western Ohio market is not yet served by a Vail owned local hill. It will be interesting to see how Vail plays those markets.

 

To all yinz Mid-A skiers, think how different Seven Springs would be right now if Gillett Holdings (Vail) had been able to complete the purchase back in the 1990s.

 

 

( a little "investment' here  by the mothership would be nice too)

 

I don't know... would Seven Springs be all that different? It's already "Vail-ified" to some extent for a fairly small place. High prices, mountain top restaurant, lots of alternative activities to skiing, lots of lodging, sister hill nearby with more lodging and geared at families, etc. 

 

I've thought that Vail could buy it, slap "Epic" in front of everything, install RFID and be done with it.

post #13 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbostedo View Post
 

 

I don't know... would Seven Springs be all that different? It's already "Vail-ified" to some extent for a fairly small place. High prices, mountain top restaurant, lots of alternative activities to skiing, lots of lodging, sister hill nearby with more lodging and geared at families, etc. 

 

I've thought that Vail could buy it, slap "Epic" in front of everything, install RFID and be done with it.

True, Seven Springs never went lacking for infrastructure but I was thinking that if Gillette had purchased before then the Seven Springs market share would go to Vail run resorts now. Bob Nutting could end up selling all three resorts to one of the big boys but I think the owner of the Pirates wants to continue to be a major player. Seven Springs is not exactly small. It's not tall but over 200 acres of snowmaking including the massive amount of snow they make for their super pipe which they managed to open this last season despite the warm winter. I think there are over 13,000 season passes sold. Some "big" places would kill to have those numbers.

 

Maybe Whitetail would be a nice acquisition for Vail but Blue Knob would be nicer from a pure skiers' view point. Blue Knob could use a massive dose of infrastructure improvement. 

post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurel Hill Crazie View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbostedo View Post
 

 

I don't know... would Seven Springs be all that different? It's already "Vail-ified" to some extent for a fairly small place. High prices, mountain top restaurant, lots of alternative activities to skiing, lots of lodging, sister hill nearby with more lodging and geared at families, etc. 

 

I've thought that Vail could buy it, slap "Epic" in front of everything, install RFID and be done with it.

True, Seven Springs never went lacking for infrastructure but I was thinking that if Gillette had purchased before then the Seven Springs market share would go to Vail run resorts now. Bob Nutting could end up selling all three resorts to one of the big boys but I think the owner of the Pirates wants to continue to be a major player. Seven Springs is not exactly small. It's not tall but over 200 acres of snowmaking including the massive amount of snow they make for their super pipe which they managed to open this last season despite the warm winter. I think there are over 13,000 season passes sold. Some "big" places would kill to have those numbers.

 

Maybe Whitetail would be a nice acquisition for Vail but Blue Knob would be nicer from a pure skiers' view point. Blue Knob could use a massive dose of infrastructure improvement. 

 

Shhhhhh shhhhhh don't give anyone any ideas. 

 

It's true that BK could use some upgrades, but it's definitely not in their business plan. All their acquisitions are to get a sizable market on the EpicPass. BK is almost the definition of being in the middle of nowhere. Altoona is about the closest thing to even being able to call a city within an hour of Blue Knob. There's no upside to them purchasing BK (for them). I actually quite like the Blue Knob experience, it's my favorite mountain in PA by far. I'll take the slow lifts and old lodge, the passes and food are affordable and the terrain is good. 

post #15 of 23

Oh, I agree on all points, that's why I prefaced my remarks by saying from skiers' point of view. Whitetail or Wisp would be more logical but Seven Springs would be the big prize for Vail purchase. I don't think that will happen.

post #16 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurel Hill Crazie View Post
 

Oh, I agree on all points, that's why I prefaced my remarks by saying from skiers' point of view. Whitetail or Wisp would be more logical but Seven Springs would be the big prize for Vail purchase. I don't think that will happen.

 

Yeah, depends on the skier too. As much as I'd like getting up the mountain faster one of the reasons I drive a bit further to go to BK is because for someone that doesn't get out enough to get the season pass it's one of the few affordable places left for me. 

post #17 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by tylrwnzl View Post
 

...... I actually quite like the Blue Knob experience, it's my favorite mountain in PA by far. I'll take the slow lifts and old lodge, the passes and food are affordable and the terrain is good. 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tylrwnzl View Post
 

 

Yeah, depends on the skier too. As much as I'd like getting up the mountain faster one of the reasons I drive a bit further to go to BK is because for someone that doesn't get out enough to get the season pass it's one of the few affordable places left for me. 

 

 

The same can be said of Timberline WV and Laurel Mountain (in its former life) for that matter. All have a taller vertical drop and terrain a good step above the local competition, if not in shear size. All had slow lifts and all used to be jammed, 20+ minutes of wait time on all weekends but the payoff was empty slopes which was good too because we're talking about places around 150 acres or less. But for all the rustic charm, interesting terrain,  Blue Knob now struggles attracting less visitors then before but T-line can still backup on many a busy Saturday and the consensus says they are struggling to expand their infrastructure also. Laurel Mountain, whose snowmaking was even more limited than Blue Knob, couldn't compete even for the budget skier who could not get out often enough to justify a season pass. Most don't have the luxury waiting for the best conditions to ski that hill with "great terrain if there is enough natural snow" so they go where there is snow. If that means 1 or 2 days at Seven Springs instead of 3 or 4 at the smaller, less covered resorts so be it. If their planned time off coordinates with a good local storm and they are flexible to change at the last moment that is great but how many are already bought into packaged discounts or pre purchased lift tickets? If the Blue Knobs and Timberlines are to survive they must generate enough capital to sustain but if the market is gentrifying and capital continues the trend that way then their only hope to maintain market share beyond local convenience and loyalty is to be made a part of a larger whole, be it Wilmont being bought by Vail or Seven Springs now owning or operating the three biggest ski resorts on the Laurel Ridge.

post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurel Hill Crazie View Post
 
. . . If the Blue Knobs and Timberlines are to survive they must generate enough capital to sustain but if the market is gentrifying and capital continues the trend that way then their only hope to maintain market share beyond local convenience and loyalty is to be made a part of a larger whole, be it Wilmont being bought by Vail or Seven Springs now owning or operating the three biggest ski resorts on the Laurel Ridge.

Whitetail probably does better partially because Snowtime also owns Liberty and Roundtop.  So someone in DC can get a season pass that lets them get in a few nights at Liberty, as well as possible weekends at Roundtop that's not quite as busy as Whitetail.  I don't think those places would be doing as well as separate businesses.

 

I would think one of the places in the Poconos would suit Vail better.  Those draw from NJ, Philadelphia, and even Baltimore.

post #19 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurel Hill Crazie View Post
 
. . . If the Blue Knobs and Timberlines are to survive they must generate enough capital to sustain but if the market is gentrifying and capital continues the trend that way then their only hope to maintain market share beyond local convenience and loyalty is to be made a part of a larger whole, be it Wilmont being bought by Vail or Seven Springs now owning or operating the three biggest ski resorts on the Laurel Ridge.

Whitetail probably does better partially because Snowtime also owns Liberty and Roundtop.  So someone in DC can get a season pass that lets them get in a few nights at Liberty, as well as possible weekends at Roundtop that's not quite as busy as Whitetail.  I don't think those places would be doing as well as separate businesses.

 

I would think one of the places in the Poconos would suit Vail better.  Those draw from NJ, Philadelphia, and even Baltimore.

 

I was thinking the same. The Poconos is a big untapped market for Vail. While not the wealthiest city in the country, Philly is still the 5th largest metropolis in the US and has easy access to CO via multiple airports.

post #20 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Whitetail probably does better partially because Snowtime also owns Liberty and Roundtop.  So someone in DC can get a season pass that lets them get in a few nights at Liberty, as well as possible weekends at Roundtop that's not quite as busy as Whitetail.  I don't think those places would be doing as well as separate businesses.

 

I would think one of the places in the Poconos would suit Vail better.  Those draw from NJ, Philadelphia, and even Baltimore.

I forgot that Whitetail was owned by Snowtime. Is it true that Snowtime makes its money selling lift tickets and is not into the bed and real estate end of the resort business?

post #21 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurel Hill Crazie View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Whitetail probably does better partially because Snowtime also owns Liberty and Roundtop.  So someone in DC can get a season pass that lets them get in a few nights at Liberty, as well as possible weekends at Roundtop that's not quite as busy as Whitetail.  I don't think those places would be doing as well as separate businesses.

 

I would think one of the places in the Poconos would suit Vail better.  Those draw from NJ, Philadelphia, and even Baltimore.

I forgot that Whitetail was owned by Snowtime. Is it true that Snowtime makes its money selling lift tickets and is not into the bed and real estate end of the resort business?


No idea.  Maybe @TheRusty knows?

post #22 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurel Hill Crazie View Post
 

I forgot that Whitetail was owned by Snowtime. Is it true that Snowtime makes its money selling lift tickets and is not into the bed and real estate end of the resort business?

 

I would guess so, simply because they don't have too much in the way of affiliated rental properties/hotels, or real estate as far as I can tell. Liberty did upgrade their hotel and conference center this past year, but otherwise they don't have the Seven Springs/Hidden Valley style "mountain lined with condos".

 

I think I read somewhere that Whitetail has seen an uptick in business from hosting weddings (and I saw a bride take her vows wearing snowboard boots, then hit the slopes in her wedding dress earlier this year), but it doesn't seem like that kind of branching out is their primary focus.

post #23 of 23

Local media is getting more interested in the construction going on at Wilmot.  The new GM, Mark Ogilvie, talked with the reporter taking a tour.

 

http://www.kenoshanews.com/news/think_snow_488442933.php

 

"Three new ski lifts from Colorado, currently sitting in pieces in the ski hill’s parking lot, are being repurposed in the park.  Right now, old lifts are being dismantled and new pieces are being prepped for construction, Ogilvie said."

 

"Along with the new lifts, Ogilvie said skiers can expect to see a lot of new snow-making infrastructure. 

Work is being done to prepare the mountain for more than 50 new snow-making guns, along with over 4 miles of new pipe being laid in the hill to transport water.

A new pump is being installed, and the snow guns are all updated technology, he said."

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