The Empire continues to expand
Just last year Vail purchased Park City combining with Canyons resort to make the largest ski resort in the country. It was a groundbreaking news event. For more about this purchase check out our post found here. This year, just north of Chicago a small humble resort called Wilmot Mountain was purchased by Vail Mountain Resort.
Wait, what…Wilmot Mountain?
A small family owned (by the Stopa’s) ski area founded in 1938 is located approximately 60 miles north of Chicago and 40 miles southwest of Milwaukee in the town of Wilmot. To compete with other ski areas in the region they started making artificial snow in the 1950’s. They had to do so to combat the erratic winters Wisconsin is known for. This area known as the Kettle Moraine is the product of glaciation. The resort has a vertical of 200 feet and twenty five runs accessed by eleven chairlifts. With the entire hill being lighted Wilmot is the perfect place to go night skiing, to get a few laps in after work on a week day or just for a few hours on a weekend due to its proximity to two major cities. The other advantage it has is that it is wide open allowing you to traverse multiple runs while skiing downhill without an issue.
So, why did Vail buy Wilmot?
Like many large ski companies they’ve come to realize that the small ski areas all around the country are like the farm system of skiing. If you introduce people to skiing and snowboarding at a young age then they will be more likely to visit a larger resort in another part of the country. In fact, the Chicagoland market has over 800,000 skiers and snowboarders so it is a perfect feeder system to get people to visit places like Heavenly, Vail, or Keystone. If they buy an Epic Local Pass they might go for a day or two at Wilmot before heading out to the West for their ski vacation.
So, what’s next?
Wilmot has always been like the Midwest go to spot to get a few runs in. Vail will over time upgrade the infrastructure such as chairlifts and implement their management strategies at the resort. This means shorter lines, better quality snow and hopefully seamless service. The question that is raised will Vail continue this buying spree in the Midwest and beyond? If so, how will this spree pan out for Vail? Only time will tell. Until then, Vail now owns a piece of Chicagoland and if your and Epic Pass holder your options were just expanded!