Vail Buys Whistler in Ski Resort Shocker

Another week, another merger and acquisition in the world of travel

Vail Buys Whistler in Ski Resort Shocker

Whistler Blackcomb, a mountain paradise

Photo by Houston Marsh/Flickr

Colorado-based ski resort operator Vail Resorts acquired Whistler Blackcomb, the largest and most visited ski resort in North America, for $1.1 billion.

The deal, a stock transaction, is expected to close later this fall. It adds another chunk to Vail’s growing portfolio of high-end properties around the world: Since it began 50 years ago, the outfit that started with a lone resort in the Colorado town of the same name has gobbled up Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, and Keystone in Colorado; Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood in California; and Park City in Utah.

Vail Resorts also owns smaller ski resorts in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, operates the RockResorts hotel brand (which has five properties in Colorado), and has numerous golf courses across North America.

Last year the company acquired Perisher, the largest ski resort in Australia.

As part of an article for Forbes, (friend and colleague) Larry Olmsted reported that Vail officials vowed to continue to invest in the Whistler community, including supporting development agreements with local First Nations groups (Whistler is in the Squamish and Lil’wat traditional territories) and adding more weather-independent four-season activities.

In a nutshell, this means Vail actually could improve upon the resort that repeatedly has been ranked the best ski resort in the Western Hemisphere.

If you’ve never been there, Whistler Blackcomb already is massive. The resort—located in British Columbia, Canada—encompasses two side-by-side mountains connected by the (Guinness World Record–holding) nearly 2-mile PEAK 2 PEAK gondola, more than 8,000 acres of skiable terrain, 14 alpine bowls, and three glaciers. The site, which hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, averages more than 465 inches of snow annually. In the summer, it’s a hiking and mountain-biking paradise, with black bear tours, ziplining, and a host of other diversions in the village.

Nearby, the town of Whistler also recently opened a new art museum.

Skiers love Vail Resorts for the company’s Epic Pass program, which allows customers to purchase a single season pass to use at all Vail properties nationwide. In a release, Vail announced Whistler Blackcomb will continue to use its own season pass products this coming winter and will be integrated into Epic Pass for 2017-18.

>> Next: The AFAR Guide to Après-Ski

Matt Villano is a freelance writer and editor based in Healdsburg, California. In more than 25 years as a full-time freelancer, he has covered travel for publications including Travel + Leisure, National Geographic Traveler, TIME, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Backpacker, CNN, and Sierra. He has written and updated 13 guidebooks about Las Vegas. Learn more about him at

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