Vail Resorts enters European market with huge investment

US ski resort operator to inject CHF 149m in Switzerland's Andermatt-Sedrum resort

Naetschen cablecar | Credit: Valentin Luthiger

Vail Resorts, Inc. has signaled its intention to enter the European ski market, agreeing to acquire a majority stake in Switzerland’s Andermatt-Sedrum for CHF 149 million (approximately AU$220 million).

Located in Central Switzerland, Andermatt-Sedrum is strategically located between a trifecta of Swiss metropolitan areas – Zurich, Lucerne and Lugano – and is just two hours from Milan, Italy.

Vail Resorts is buying a 55% ownership stake in Andermatt-Sedrun Sport AG, which controls and operates all of the resort’s mountain and ski-related assets, including lifts, most of the restaurants and a ski school operation. ASA will retain a 40% ownership, and a group of existing shareholders will retain a 5% slice of the business.

Credit: Valentin Luthiger

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Since originally investing in the resort in 2007, ASA’s majority shareholder, Samih Sawiris, has invested over CHF 1.3 billion into the surrounding base area and over CHF 150 million into the ski resort, creating one of the leading luxury resorts in Switzerland. ASA’s extensive investments in high-end lodging in the base area include The Chedi Andermatt and the Radisson Blu Reussen, luxury condos, studios and apartments, as well as the development of a concert hall, an 18-hole championship golf course, and three Michelin star restaurants.

Vail Resorts’ CHF 149 million investment is comprised of a CHF 110 million investment into Andermatt-Sedrun Sport AG for use in capital investments to enhance the guest experience. Vail Resorts will assume operating and marketing responsibility for Andermatt-Sedrun Sport AG, with ASA and local stakeholders continuing as key members of the board of directors.

Andermatt Ursen Valley | Credit: Valentin Luthiger

Kirsten Lynch, Chief Executive Officer of Vail Resorts, said: “Entering the European ski market has been a long-term strategic priority for Vail Resorts. We are excited to be partnering with ASA and investing our capital and resources to support the ongoing development of Andermatt-Sedrun into one of the premier alpine destination resorts in Europe, with integrated operations in lifts, food and ski school.”

“The extensive investments that ASA and the Sawiris family have made in both the base area and the mountain have created a high-end experience with significant capacity for growth from guests from Switzerland, the United Kingdom, other parts of Europe and around the world. We plan to rely heavily on, and learn from, our partners, community members and the Andermatt-Sedrun team as we gain experience and understanding of the resort, its guests and operations.”

The acquisition will not only see Andermatt-Sedrum join Vail Resorts’ network of resorts, but align with the ski specialist’s Epic Pass, Epic Day Pass and Epic Local pass.

Skiing on Schneehüenerstock | Credit: Valentin Luthiger

The SkiArena Andermatt-Sedrun offers over 120km of varied terrain and a top elevation of 3,000 meters across the mountains of Andermatt, Sedrun and Gemsstock, with connected access to Disentis which is owned independently.

The ski area spans over 10 miles of scenic high alpine terrain between Andermatt and Sedrun, including the iconic Oberalp Pass, and is connected by the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn that operates year-round.

Vail Resorts’ investment will go towards enhancing the guest experience by increasing uphill capacity with lift upgrades and replacements; improving the quality of the snow surface through snowmaking upgrades; and improvements and expansions to dining outlets on-mountain.

The transaction is expected to close prior to the 2022/23 ski and ride season. Vail Resorts plans to include unlimited and unrestricted access to Andermatt-Sedrun on the 2022-23 Epic Pass. Epic Day Pass holders with All Resorts Access will be able to use any of their days at Andermatt, and Epic Local Pass holders will receive five days of unrestricted access to the resort. The Epic Pass also provides European access to partner resorts including five days at Verbier4Vallées in Switzerland, seven days at Les 3 Vallées in France, seven days at Skirama Dolomiti in Italy and three days at Ski Arlberg in Austria.

Winter operations at Andermatt-Sedrun for 2021/2022 will continue as planned.

Lead image: Nätschen: gondola in winter | Credit: Valentin Luthiger

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