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Vail Resorts Acquires First European Ski Area With Swiss Property

Vail Resorts acquires andermatt-sedrunSwitzerland's Andermatt-Sedrun covers 75 miles of terran; (photo/Yfanny via Wiki Commons)
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In a weekend announcement, Vail Resorts identified its first acquisition in Europe. As a new majority stakeholder, Vail plans to add Switzerland’s Andermatt-Sedrun to the 2022-2023 Epic Pass.

Vail Resorts expands its ownership portfolio across the pond for the first time. The ski mountain giant announced on March 27 that it acquired a majority share of Switzerland’s Andermatt-Sedrun Sport AG.

The company controls and operates all of Andermatt-Sedrun’s ski-related assets, including lifts, most restaurants, and a ski school operation. The resort comprises 75 miles of varied terrain (10 miles of high-alpine ski terrain) above a base area loaded with high-end restaurants, hotels, and attractions.

Vail Resorts acquired a 55% ownership stake in Andermatt-Sedrun Sport AG. The operator’s old majority ownership group, Andermatt Swiss Alps AG (ASA), retains another 40%, and a group of other existing shareholders owns the remaining 5%.

Andermatt-Sedrun and Vail’s Strategy

ASA has invested heavily in Andermatt-Sedrun since gaining control over the resort in 2007. ASA’s majority shareholder, Samih Sawiris, has invested approximately $1.4 billion in the resort’s base area and about $161 million into the ski resort.

As a result, the resort features lavish accommodations like the Chedi Andermatt, a world-class 5-star luxury hotel, plus luxury condos, studios, and apartments. Other diversions include a concert hall, an 18-hole championship golf course, and three Michelin star restaurants.

vail resorts andermatt-sedrun
The 2020 Andermatt-Sedrun ski map, by Arne Rohweder; (image/skimap.org)

Vail Resorts’ investment amounted to just under $160 million. With it, the company took on operating and marketing responsibility for Andermatt-Sedrun Sport AG. ASA and local stakeholders will remain key members of the group’s board of directors. However, Vail Resorts will appoint one of its employees as the Chair of the Board of Directors.

In a statement, the company indicated the investment had long been a strategic target.

“Entering the European ski market has been a long-term strategic priority for Vail Resorts,” said Vail Resorts CEO Kirsten Lynch.

“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.”


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A post shared by SkiArena Andermatt-Sedrun (@skiarena)

Vail seeks to prioritize guest experience with its investment through three key initiatives. It plans to:

  • increase uphill capacity with lift upgrades and replacements;
  • improve snow conditions through snowmaking upgrades; and
  • improve and expand dining on-mountain.

New Resort Joins Epic Pass, Should Retain Staff

Per Vail, the parties expect the transaction to close before the 2022-2023 ski and ride season. It requires some third-party consent to move forward. Subject to how soon it closes, Vail plans to include unlimited and unrestricted access to Andermatt-Sedrun on the 2022-2023 Epic Pass.

Andermatt-Sedrun will join 26 other European resorts on the Epic Pass — Vail partners with resorts like Italy’s Skirama Dolomiti and Austria’s Arlberg without ownership stake.

Vail said it plans only a few changes to Andermatt-Sedrun’s staff and daily operations. Alongside ASA, it looks to retain all the resort’s current employees and its existing operational infrastructure. It hopes to preserve local expertise among the staff and a “local, independent focus.”

Andermatt-Sedrun’s 2021-2022 operations will continue as planned.

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