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Vail Resorts confirm purchase of Victoria’s Falls Creek and Hotham ski resorts

Vail Resorts confirm purchase of Victoria’s Falls Creek and Hotham ski resorts
February 22, 2019

Vail Resorts has announced that it is to acquire Victoria’s Falls Creek and Hotham winter resorts from a Merlin Entertainments subsidiary for a purchase price in excess of $170 million.

The acquisition will see Vail add Falls Creek and Hotham to its existing Australian operations at Perisher Ski Resort in NSW. It will also see Merlin exit from its only winter resort attractions, having taken on the management of Falls Creek and Hotham when it acquired the former Living and Leisure Australia Group in 2012.

Announcing the acquisition, Rob Katz, Chairman and Chief Executive of Vail Resorts, advised “we are thrilled to welcome the guests and employees of both Falls Creek and Hotham into the Vail Resorts family and further strengthen our position in Australia, which is one of our most important international markets.

“The acquisition of the leading mountain resorts in Victoria is part of our continued strategy to drive season pass sales and build loyalty with guests from around the world.

“After our success connecting with skiers in Sydney and across New South Wales since acquiring Perisher in 2015, we have a huge opportunity to create a deeper connection with Melbourne and broader Victorian skiers and riders.”

Nick Mackenzie, Managing Director of Merlin Entertainments’ Midway division, added “Vail Resorts has a great track record in developing world-class resorts.

“We’re confident that guests, employees and the surrounding communities of Hotham and Falls Creek will benefit from Vail Resorts’ expertise, investment and know-how, and we wish the teams every success for the future.”

Falls Creek, Victoria’s largest ski resort, features a variety of terrain including fantastic beginner and intermediate trails that are well suited to families and first-timers while Hotham is considered the ‘powder capital’ of Australia and is the only resort in the Southern Hemisphere where the village is located on top of the mountain, ensuring ski-in, ski-out opportunities from anywhere in the village.

The acquisition, which is subject to certain regulatory approvals, is expected to close prior to the commencement of the Australian snow season in June 2019.

Vail is purchasing Australian Alpine Enterprises Holdings Pty. Ltd and all related corporate entities that operate Falls Creek and Hotham resorts from Living and Leisure Australia Group (LLA), a subsidiary of Merlin Entertainments, for a purchase price of approximately $174 million, subject to certain adjustments at closing, including an increase (or reduction) in the price for operating losses (or gains) incurred for the period from 29th December 2018 through to it closing. The acquisition includes ski school, retail/rental, reservation and property management operations at both resort areas.

When the transaction closes, the 2019 Epic Australia Pass and 2018/19 Epic Pass will include unlimited, unrestricted access to Falls Creek and is expected to include unlimited, unrestricted access to Hotham, subject to certain approvals.

Welcoming the purchase, Falls Creek Alpine Resort Management Board Chair Jo Shannon stated “we are delighted that Vail Resorts has chosen to invest in Falls Creek.

“As a company with extensive success in running year-round mountain resorts around the world, this demonstrates the current level of confidence in the Victorian alpine industry.

“Vail Resorts’ mission to create the Experience of a Lifetime aligns perfectly with the Board’s vision to create the Ultimate All Seasons Alpine Village Experience; a vision we strive for on behalf of all Victorians.

“We look forward to working collaboratively with Vail Resorts and all our partners in continuing to make Falls Creek a great place to live, work and play.”

The Victorian ski industry contributed an estimated $1 billion to Victoria’s economy in 2018, and is one of the largest providers of employment in the north-east of Victoria.

Images: Falls Creek (top, courtesy of Nathan Fenton) and Hotham, the only winter resort in the Southern Hemisphere where the village is located on top of the mountain (below).

Related Articles

12th October 2018 - Merlin Entertainments looks at Australian expansion

7th October 2018 - Falls Creek flags 2018 snow season highlights

21st June 2018 - Melbourne’s LEGOLAND Discovery Centre brings LEGO fun to Mt Hotham

20th June 2018 - Ongoing fears over future of Victoria’s ski resort industry

4th May 2018 - Victorian alpine resorts welcome investment in collaborative tourism strategies

2nd March 2018 - Japan’s Hakuba Valley joins Vail Resorts Epic Pass initiative

11th July 2017 - Research shows increased visitor numbers across Victoria’s alpine resorts

3rd July 2017 - First Black Run opens in Australia at Mt Hotham

12th June 2017 - Record breaking opening weekend at Mount Hotham

27th April 2016 - Merlin Entertainments marks five years of operations in Australasia

6th July 2015 - Vail Resorts completes Perisher acquisition

3rd April 2015 - Perisher ski resort sold to US company Vail Resorts

12th September 2014 - $2.5 million for first all abilities alpine accommodation at Falls Creek

19th December 2011 - Merlin snaps up Living and Leisure Australia

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