Ikon beats Epic for top spots CO has 5 of 10 top ski resorts impact on real estate

by | Dec 12, 2019 | Colorado Hard Money, Colorado Living, Colorado Real Estate values, Colorado Ski towns, Condo Lending, Ski lending/ investing

Ikon beat Epic in ski magazine impact on real estate

Do you know where I took the picture above? (e-mail me if you know, the mountains should provide a hint :).  Ski magazine came out with their annual list of top ski destinations.  Colorado took the crown with 5 of the top 10 ski destinations which accounted for almost 30% of all ski visitation in the United States.  How did resorts owned by Alterra (Ikon pass) perform vs. Vail (Epic Pass)?  What does this mean for real estate?

What is in the data?

Five Colorado resorts are listed in the top 10 of Ski Magazine’s annual reader survey ranking Western North American resorts, with Aspen Snowmass checking in at No. 1. Six more are ranked in the top 30.  Ironically every resort in Colorado is either owned by Alterra or Vail or affiliated with one of the passes

  1. Aspen/Snowmass, CO (Ikon Pass)
  2. Sun Valley, ID
  3. Whitefish Mountain, MT
  4. Steamboat Springs, CO (Ikon Pass)
  5. Deer Valley, UT
  6. Whistler, BC
  7. Telluride, CO (Epic Pass)
  8. Beaver Creek, CO (Epic Pass)
  9. Breckenridge, CO (Epic Pass)
  10. Park City, UT
  11. Vail, CO (Epic Pass)
  12. Winter Park, CO (Ikon Pass)
  13. Copper Mountain, CO (Ikon Pass)
  14. Crested Butte, CO (Epic Pass)
  15. Keystone, CO (Epic Pass)
  16. Arapahoe Basin, CO (Ikon Pass)

What does this mean for real estate in Colorado’s Ski towns?

Having all of the top ski destinations in Colorado on the list being either owned or affiliated with Vail or Alterra further perpetuates the two-horse notion.  As the same cities continue to get recognized within the national media travelers will continue to flock to each of these locations furthering the demand in each of the respective ski towns.

More visitors and “positive” media recognition will continue to spur real estate demand in each of the top destinations.  At the same time supply is severely constrained in each of the Colorado mountain towns due to lack of land and high building costs.  This will lead to continued appreciation in the top destinations.

The continued success of the top destinations will force resorts into either being acquired by or partnering with Vail or Alterra to stay relevant in today’s ski environment.  The resorts that don’t get on one of the two major horses will have a tough time staying afloat.

What should you do as a result of ski magazines top ski destination list for 2020

This list further highlights the strength of the two major players in the resort industry.  When looking to invest in mountain real estate (whether in Colorado or elsewhere) you should focus on resorts that have already partnered with or are owned by Vail or Alterra.  This will limit your downside risk as both companies are very well capitalized and will continue to invest and maintain the resorts even in a downturn.  This will enable real estate in these markets to outperform others.


Additional reading/resources


  1. https://www.skimag.com/ski-resort-life/resorts-of-the-year
  2. https://theknow.denverpost.com/2019/11/19/aspen-snowmass-best-ski-resort-west/228866/


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Written by Glen Weinberg, COO/ VP Fairview Commercial Lending.  Glen has been published as an expert in hard money lending, real estate valuation, financing, and various other real estate topics in the Colorado Real Estate Journal, the CO Biz Magazine, The Denver Post, The Scotsman mortgage broker guide, Mortgage Professional America and various other national publications.

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