Vail’s purchase falls in line with its reach eastward.

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Vail Resorts closed on the purchase of Seven Springs, Hidden Valley and Laurel Mountain on New Year’s Eve, beginning a new era in the local ski resorts.

The Nutting family owned Seven Spring for 15 years, adding Hidden Valley and Laurel Mountain under one ownership in that time. Now, Vail’s purchase of these three means it owns 40 ski resorts across 15 states and three countries.

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People here are anxious to see what changes this may bring. The person who oversees Vail’s eastern region is Tim Baker, who happens to have played for the Steelers in 2001. He keeps a Terrible Towel and Steeler helmet in his regular Zoom background.

He’s excited to return to the region to see the three ski resorts.

“We’re actually very encouraged by the condition of the resort,” Baker said. “I think the ownership of the past has done a great job of maintaining the facilities. It has one of the largest snowmaking systems in the world, and we’re really excited to learn about that.”

Baker says don’t expect any changes this season. Instead, they’ll watch, listen and learn.

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“I anticipate learning a lot about what the guests base is looking for, what type of an experience they’re trying to have at a place like Seven Springs and not trying to create an experience that maybe guests have had somewhere else because it’s really difficult to replicate that,” Baker said.

Baker says they prefer to keep the local flavor of each resort, not homogenizing them. Vail Resorts is looking for a new general manager, but otherwise, it plans to keep the vast majority of employees.

As for the legendary “Epic Pass”, Baker says it won’t be available for pass holders at our local resorts until next season.

“A full ‘Epic Pass,’ which is priced at an unheard-of rate compared to the history of the industry, provides unlimited access across all 40 of the resorts that we own and operate, in addition to countless other resorts that we have partnerships with, both in Canada and Europe and even in Japan,” Baker sajd.

Vail’s purchase falls in line with its reach eastward. In 2019, it purchased 17 resorts in the East and Midwest, many near metropolitan areas like Pittsburgh.

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As for investing in the resorts here, nothing is promised. But this past fall, Vail Resorts announced a $320 million capital plan with 19 new chairlifts across 14 of its resorts.