Arapahoe Basin Ski Area to be sold to Ikon Pass owner Alterra Mountain Co.

Robert Tann/Summit Daily News
The early afternoon sun hangs high above the base of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024. Sitting on the patio of a base-area restaurant that day, Denver resident Benji Perez said he had mixed feelings about A-Basin being sold to Alterra Mountain Company. “My first thought is, ‘Oh god, this isn’t going to be the small, peaceful place that it was before,” he said.
Robert Tann/Summit Daily News

Alterra Mountain Company, a ski resort conglomerate that owns the Ikon Pass, plans to purchase Arapahoe Basin Ski Area this year, according to statements released by both organizations on Monday, Feb. 5. 

A-Basin is currently owned by Dream Unlimited Corp., a Canadian real estate company based in Toronto, which acquired the ski area in 1997. The sale, if it goes through, would bring Alterra’s portfolio to 18 year-round mountain destinations throughout North America. In Colorado, Alterra owns Steamboat Ski Resort and Winter Park Resort. 

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area Chief Operating Officer Alan Henceroth said the sale could be completed sometime later this year, adding there will be no changes to Ikon Pass access at A-Basin this ski season.

The ski area has partnered with Alterra to provide limited days on the Ikon Pass since winter 2019. Before that, it was part of the Epic Pass owned by Vail Resorts. 

“We haven’t even started talking about what the future’s going to be like in terms of specifics,”  Henceroth said in an interview with the Summit Daily News. “But (Alterra’s) buying A-Basin because they like it and they like what we’re doing.”

Hailed for its no-frills skiing and smaller weekend crowds, A-Basin achieved an “anti-resort” status despite its partnership with two industry giants — Alterra and Vail. When the ski resort pivoted from the Epic to the Ikon Pass in 2019, it cited overcrowding as a key reason. 

A-Basin currently offers five days of access on the Ikon Base Pass and seven on the full pass and has succeeded in curbing visitation in a bid to preserve a more relaxed and intimate ski experience. Visitation during the 2022-23 season, for example, was 75% of what it was during the 2018-19 season — the ski area’s last with Epic. 

Henceroth said he’s confident A-Basin will continue to keep the same atmosphere under Alterra’s ownership. 

“The people at A-Basin are what make it great, and I don’t just mean the employees, but I mean the whole culture of people,” Henceroth said. “Everybody here is really committed to having the Basin be this incredible place to spend a chunk of your life at. And I know Alterra gets that and they’re committed to that too.”

Henceroth, who has been with A-Basin for 36 years, will continue as COO under Alterra. The resort conglomerate stated he will lead the resort’s daily operations as well as future capital improvement plans, such as expanding parking and snowmaking.

Robert Tann/Summit Daily News
Skiers and riders descend the mountain at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024. Opened in 1946 as Summit County’s first operating ski area, A-Basin has changed ownership a number of times. With the announcement of a pending sale to Alterra Mountain Company, Chief Operating Officer Alan Henceroth said A-Basin has seen “a lot of big changes” but added that he doesn’t believe it will change the ski area’s culture.
Robert Tann/Summit Daily News

A-Basin regulars said they hope the ski area can maintain the lower prices and crowds that have drawn them to it for years. 

“It has a nice not over-commercialized feel,” said Wendy McCaffrey, a former Summit County resident who now lives in Arvada. “It’s not that kind of place, and we don’t want that.” 

McCaffrey said she’s been skiing at A-Basin since 1993 while her husband, John Wickershein, has been skiing it since 1974. For the past few years, they’ve bought four- and five-day passes at A-Basin, adding that other neighboring resorts have become too expensive. 

“We don’t want to buy a season pass because we don’t ski that much. So offering that is critical to us,” Wickershein said. 

Robert Tann/Summit Daily News
The base of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area is pictured on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024. A-Basin announced that morning that it would be sold to Alterra Mountain Company, a ski resort conglomerate that owns the Ikon Pass, sometime in 2024. Details have not been released about what that might mean for passes but it will not affect pass holders this season.

Denver resident Benji Perez said he’s been skiing at A-Basin since 2014. For the past four seasons, he’s chosen to forgo an Epic or Ikon Pass in favor of a full-season A-Basin pass. Part of the reason is because of how much quieter the ski area is compared to others. 

“When you come here during the height of the season, there’s often not many people here,” Perez said. “I love that about this place.” 

Perez said if A-Basin “manages to maintain the same atmosphere” under new ownership, “we’ll keep coming.” 

Robert Tann/Summit Daily News
A skier ascends the Black Mountain Express lift from the base of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024. Longtime skiers of A-Basin said they hope prices don’t increase under new ownership by Alterra Mountain Company.
Robert Tann/Summit Daily News

Aaron Landau, a friend of Perez who also lives in Denver, said A-Basin “has become my home mountain.” Having grown up skiing Mt. Baker Ski Area in northwest Washington, Landau said he sees a similarity between the two. 

Mt. Baker “has a very strong sustainability culture but also a culture of self-reliance and everybody taking care of each other,” Landau said. “I feel like Arapahoe Basin, of the mountains I’ve skied in Colorado, best exemplifies that.”

Landau said he’s reassured to know that Henceroth will continue at the helm under Alterra, adding that he and his team “have been a big part of building that atmosphere.” Still, he’s concerned that new ownership could mean more access to Ikon pass holders and a surge in skier traffic. 

Henceroth said A-Basin is committed to a good experience, “and that means we can’t have too many people here.”

While he acknowledged there’s been “some criticism, some fear, some concern out there,” regarding the sale, Henceroth said, “The Basin’s going to be just as awesome as it has been. I don’t have any doubt about it.”

This article was written by Robert Tann for Summit Daily News 


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