Vail Resorts buys Afton Alps

AFTON — Vail Resorts, the leading mountain resort operator in North America, has agreed to purchase the popular Afton Alps ski area, representatives from both companies announced Thursday.

The sale is expected to be completed within the next month, with closing subject to certain conditions.

Vail Resorts officials plan upgrades and enhancements to Afton Alps and offer opportunities to connect the St. Croix Valley ski area’s guests to Vail Resorts’ seven properties in Colorado and the Lake Tahoe area through season passes and other lift-ticket products.

Three area farmers, Paul and Robert Augustine and Tom Furlong, founded Afton Alps in 1963. The facility is now the largest ski area near a major U.S. city and features 48 trails on almost 300 acres, 18 lifts, four base areas, night skiing and riding, tubing and an 18-hole golf course.

“The Augustine family and the great team of employees at Afton Alps are thrilled to join Vail resorts, giving Afton Alps a promising new future while preserving the ski area’s legacy that has made it a premiere ski area in the Midwest today,” said Amy Reents, an Afton Alps owner and manager of resort marketing and community relations.

Reents added that she told Afton Alps employees Thursday about the sale to Vail Resorts.

Vail Resorts officials said their company plans to enhance Afton Alps ski operations with redesigned and updated terrain parks, what they termed “best-in-class” coaching and instruction for all levels of skiers and dedicated racing programs.

Other improvements at Afton Alps planned by Vail Resorts include expanded dining and entertainment options and integrated technology programs EpicMix, EpicMix Photo and EpicMix Racing.

Vail Resorts also said Afton Alps season pass holders immediately receive a 25 percent discount off window rates on lift tickets at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood ski areas.

Reents said the sale of Afton Alps to Vail Resorts offers new opportunities for the local ski area.

“What a wonderful gift these three men gave to their families, to our employees and guests, and to our local community,” she said. “We’re grateful to them for the legacy they built and, at the same time, excited to enter a new chapter in Afton Alps history. Afton Alps will continue to be our hometown hill.”