With an investment of almost 150 million Swiss francs, the American ski giant Vail Resorts is investing in the Swiss ski resort Andermatt-Sedrun and thus taking the majority stake. The money is to go entirely into developing the destination into a world-class resort. However, the investment also raises concerns about overpriced ski pass prices, as in the American ski resorts of Vail Resorts.
Vail Resorts acquires majority stake
The world's largest ski resort operator Vail Resorts, Inc. will become the majority owner of Andermatt-Sedrun Sport AG, the company that operates the Andermatt-Sedrun ski resort in the Swiss cantons of Uri and Graubünden, with a 55 percent stake. 40 percent of the shares continue to be held by Andermatt Swiss Alps AG (ASA), headed by Egyptian investor Samih Sawiris. Vail Resorts' investment of149 million Swiss francs (approx. 143 million euros) is to be used entirely for the further development and expansion of the Andermatt destination.
Around 110 million Swiss francs will go into Andermatt-Sedrun Sport AG. These are to be reinvested in lifts, snowmaking, gastronomy, infrastructure and leisure offering of the SkiArena Andermatt-Sedrun. The remaining 39 million will be paid to Andermatt Swiss Alps AG, which intends to use the sum for the further development of real estate, hotels, infrastructure and the expansion of the Andermatt Reuss district.
In recent years, Andermatt Swiss Alps AG has already invested 1.3 billion Swiss francs (about 1.24 billion euros) in the development of Andermatt, about 150 million of which was spent on the modernization and expansion of the SkiArena Andermatt-Sedrun. The investment by Vail Resorts is now expected to significantly accelerate this development. “Vail Resorts is the ideal partner for our goal of developing Andermatt into The Prime Alpine Destination,” Samih Sawiris, majority owner of ASA, is convinced. The aim is to establish Andermatt as a world-class resort in the long term. Sawiris cites Zermatt and St. Moritz, among others, as role models.
First European ski area for Vail Resorts
With Vail Resorts, a real heavyweight in the ski market is taking over in Andermatt. The company, headquartered in Colorado, operates 40 ski resorts in the USA, Canada and Australia. The best known among them are Whistler Blackcomb, Vail, Park City and Beaver Creek. With Andermatt-Sedrun, the first ski resort in Europe is now being added.
For this reason, Vail Resorts is also looking forward to its new partner. “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 Andermatt-Sedrun's transformation into a premier destination resort,” stated Kirsten Lynch, CEO of Vail Resorts.
Epic Pass soon valid in Andermatt
The final negotiations are still underway, but the transaction is expected to be completed before the 2022/2023 ski season. There are also plans to include Andermatt-Sedrun in the Epic Pass as early as next season - provided the takeover is signed and sealed in time.
The Epic Pass is valid in the 40 ski areas of Vail Resorts worldwide and is expected to attract more international guests to Andermatt in the future. After all, the season pass is bought by around 2 million skiers worldwide every year. In addition to unlimited access to Vail Resorts ski areas, the Epic Pass is also valid for several days at other ski resorts in Canada, Japan and the Alps, such as 4 Vallées, Les 3 Vallées, Skirama Dolomiti and Ski Arlberg. The price for the Epic Pass 2022/2023 is 841 US dollars (approx. 807 euros).
Fear of American prices
However, the investors' stated goal of turning Andermatt into a premium destination is also causing concern among many Swiss. The entry of Vail Resorts will increase the focus on affluent, international guests who can fill the beds. It remains to be seen, however, what this development will mean for locals and guests from the region. After all, Andermatt is also quite attractive for daily visitors due to its good accessibility.
Especially for them, however, things could soon get expensive, so the concern. Skiing in the North American ski areas of Vail Resorts is not an inexpensive pleasure. Especially if you spontaneously want to hit the slopes for a day, you have to dig deep into your pockets. A day ski pass in Vail can cost more than 200 dollars (about 192 euros).
So in the future, you will have to be prepared for higher prices in Andermatt. Whether these will actually reach the exorbitant proportions of the American model, cannot yet be estimated at this point. Considering the strong competition in the surrounding area from Aletsch Arena, Flims and Titlis, however, Andermatt's tourism director Thomas Christen considers such a development unlikely.