Vail Resorts Group Acquires Two New Australian Ski Resorts
Vail Resorts announced Friday that the group, which operates ski resorts across the globe, will acquire two major Australian ski resorts pending regulatory approval. Vail Resorts currently owns and operates Vail, Breckenridge and Keystone resorts in the US and will acquire Falls Creek Alpine Resort and Hotham Ski Resort, both of which are located in Victoria, Australia, roughly halfway between Melbourne and Canberra. This will be Vail Resorts' second and third Australian ski areas, having added Perisher Ski Resort, the largest ski area in the southern hemisphere, to the group's portfolio in 2015. Vail Resorts is reporting that the cost to acquire the two ski areas, the largest in the southern hemisphere, is AU $174 million or approximately $124 million USD.
While the ski season in North America typically runs from late October/early November through late April/early May, in Australia, the ski season runs from early June through October.
An Overview of Vail's Latest Additions, Falls Creek and Hotham
Falls Creek Alpine resort is located in Victoria, Australia, roughly four hours from Melbourne and five hours from Canberra. While not the highest ski area in the world at a peak elevation of just 5,840 ft, Falls Creek receives upwards of 160 inches of snow each ski season and offers skiers 1,110 acres to traverse. With 60% of the resort consisting of blue, or intermediate, runs, Falls Creek is the ideal resort for the occasional skier or boarder looking for a relaxed yet somewhat challenging experience.
In addition to Falls Creek, Vail Resorts is also set to acquire Hotham Ski Resort, located just a few miles west of Falls Creek Alpine Resort on the opposite side of the mountain. Skiers wishing to check out both Falls Creek and Hotham will have to drive around an hour and a half each way. Hotham is a little higher than Falls Creek, with a peak elevation of 6,106 ft, but is slightly smaller with just 790 acres of skiable terrain. Hotham features more advanced terrain compared to Falls Creek, though still offers easier trails for beginners.
How to Get to Australia's Ski Resorts
If you're interested in making your way down to the Alpine National Park region in the Australian state of Victoria, it's not the easiest trip.
Melbourne is the closest major city with direct flights from the United States. The price of a round-trip ticket from Los Angeles (LAX) to Melbourne (MEL) departing June 3, 2019, and returning June 14, 2019, is currently $676 on United with both legs being nonstop flights in economy.
If you're looking to redeem miles, now would be the time to do so with American, Delta and United offering round-trip flights from Los Angeles to Melbourne in coach for just 80,000 miles, or 40,000 miles one-way. Both American and United offer nonstop flights for 40,000 miles one-way.
Canberra (CBR) is also located relatively close the ski resorts, though flights are more expensive and harder to find. If you opt to fly into Canberra, you will first have to make a stop in either Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. The price of a round-trip ticket from Los Angeles to Canberra is around $800, while both American and Delta offer round-trip award tickets in June for 80,000 miles.
When you arrive in either Melbourne or Canberra, you will need to either rent a car equipped for snowy mountain passes, take a train/bus from either city or catch one of Qantas' charter flights from Sydney. Once in the mountain towns, all of the amenities you need are nearby.
Even though the sale of the resorts is pending regulatory approval, Falls Creek and Hotham will still join the Epic Pass network, Vail Resorts' season pass, at the start of the next ski season. The pass debuted with around a dozen or so North American ski areas and resorts, and now offers pass holders access to 67 resorts across North America, Europe, Asia and Oceania as of the 2019-2020 ski season. The Epic Pass started at $929 for adults for the current season and will likely be offered in 2019 for roughly the same price. It is not yet available for purchase for the 2019-2020 season.