By the end of this month, family-owned Afton Alps will be the official property of Vail Resorts—the billion dollar ski giant that already owns seven major ski areas out West, including Vail Mountain. As the Star Tribune reports, the purchase comes as part of a plan to boost Vail’s growth in the Midwest by buying “urban ski areas close to its consumer base.” Also picking up Mount Brighton ski area in Detroit, the combined purchases will earn Vail an estimated $20 million.
As the largest ski area close to a major city in the Midwest, Afton Alps has 48 trails and sits on 300 acres of land. Paul Augustine, who co-founded Afton in 1963, has kept the resort in the family since its opening; his daughter Amy Reents currently operates as co-owner. As Reents states in the Star Tribune, the sale presents a “wonderful opportunity” for the company, and the Augustine family plans continued involvement with Afton throughout the scheduled changes.
Vail plans to improve Afton’s snowmaking abilities, redesign terrain parks, and upgrade dining options. In addition, social media will play a larger role in promotion, with users being able to track how far they’ve skied using technology called EpicMix that automatically uploads their status to Facebook and Twitter.