Whistler Blackcomb Set for Huge Improvements as Vail Resorts Inc. Plan on Splashing the Cash

Steven Agar | | Industry NewsIndustry News
whistler backcomb, vail, acquisition, improvements
Vail Resorts Inc. acquired Whistler Backcomb last year for $1bn. Credit: parkrecord.com

Whistler Blackcomb is already legendary for its huge acreage, plentiful powder, and the world’s highest gondola so you’d be hard pushed to think of ways to improve it.

But after paying $1 billion last fall, in a record-setting deal to acquire the resort, Vail Resorts Inc. are planning to achieve just that and improve upon the resort’s already abundant selling points.

whistler backcomb, vail, acquisition, improvements, powder
Average annual snowfall of 456″. Credit: aspentimes.com

Whistler Blackcomb is only 2 hours from Vancouver, has an average snowfall of 456” with one of the longest ski seasons in North America, and boasts over 200 marked runs across 8,171 acres, yet Vail claims it has loads of ideas to improve the resort.

According to Bloomberg, Vail plans on investing $276 million over the next seven years on capital improvements, both on and off the mountain:

  • This upcoming season, with the addition of Whistler Blackcomb to the Epic Pass, Vail’s EpicMix app will allow riders to compare lift lines in real time which in light of concerns about Whistler’s growing crowds, could prove to be essential.
  • Also this winter, Vail is opening a new après-ski spot at the renovated Roundhouse Lodge, that has a heated, open-deck bar with views across the valley.
  • Summer business is also an equally big focus, with plans for a 425-foot mountaintop suspension bridge and lookout deck to open next year, and further down the line, a 163,000-square-foot indoor water park, with a surf simulator, at Blackcomb’s upper base.
  • Vail plans to develop 60 high-end, ski-in-ski-out townhouses, and a luxury 6-star hotel, to open by 2022.
whistler backcomb, vail, acquisition, improvements, après ski
Vail plan on adding further acres ski option at Whistler Backcomb. Credit: Justa Jeskova

Vail Chief Executive Officer Robert Katz told investors last year:

Whistler Blackcomb is by far the industry leader in creating a true year-round resort.

But not everybody is happy. A local doctor, and rider, Cathy Zeglinski, says many of the community are getting priced out, replaced by wealthy transients:

“If you’ve ever gone to Vail in the off­season, it’s a ghost town,” she says. “The community becomes a bunch of empty houses where no one actually lives, and that’s where Whistler is going.”

whistler backcomb, vail, acquisition, improvements, gondola, worlds highest
Worlds highest gondola, at Whistler Blackcomb. Credit: alluradirect.com

So could this year be the best year to ride Whistler Blackcomb? To take advantage of the Epic pass, and ski the resort as it is now before the improvements start to hit and the local character is still intact?

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