Arapahoe Basin Ski Area announced Monday that it will split from Vail Resorts next ski season, ending a 22-year-partnership.
“Frankly, we have some challenges,” said Alan Henceroth, COO of A-Basin. “Parking is tough on weekends and some of our facilities are really busy. We’re very happy with the number of skiers we have here, but looking forward, we think we can take care of our guests better and take care of our employees better and be better for business operating on our own.”
Skiers and riders have been able to use the Vail’s Epic Pass for the last 20 years to ski at A-Basin as well as several other resorts.
The ski area has invested $40 million in the last 15 years, according to a news release. In 2016, the White River National Forest allowed the resort to expand its ski terrain by more than 300 acres. The expansion also included new chairlifts along with a surface lift up to the top of Montezuma Bowl.
The growth has made the ski area more attractive, and that has brought larger and larger numbers of people each year.
Henceroth said the resort has been feeling a “pinch,” from all those new people, especially on parking. He said on most Saturdays and Sundays, even the overflow parking at the resort is filled. The number of skiers has steadily risen year after year and it was finally time to change something, Henceroth said.
“We think we're probably going to have to use our overflow parking a lot less,” he said. “There should be more space in our restaurants now. There won’t be quite as many people here and we know the guests are going to like it and our employees are going to like it, too.”
A-Basin and Vail Resorts have been partners since 1997, Henceforth said. The 2018-2019 season passes will still be valid at A-Basin through the season.
“We are disappointed but given the success they have had and their recent investments into the resort, we respect that this is the right time for them to move in a different direction,” said Kirsten Lynch, chief marketing officer for Vail Resorts, in a release.
“New opportunities” with several resorts and resort groups are expected to be announced in the coming months, according to a news release from A-Basin. Vail’s main competitor for season pass ski lift tickets is Aspen’s Ikon Pass, but Epic passes vastly outsell Ikon passes.