customization,” he said, noting areas make upgrades that are consumer driven. “The Epic Pass lineup will benefit skiers in those respects. The new owner can consistently be making capital investments more quickly than most of their competitors; this will be good for skiers, employees, and surrounding communities,” he added. While parting with the resorts was a tough decision, Tim said he was “most proud of our employees and what they do as a team. We have three great teams. With the sale, we are leaving them in good hands.” Diane concurred, noting the distinctive resorts their staffs have helped to create. “The employment and advancement opportunities that our projects have created are important and part of why we have enjoyed what we do. The resorts have been a source of personal pride and part of what we do to make the world a better place,” she said, adding that, “guests and employees will benefit from Vail Resorts’ outstanding track record of resort and community investment, environmental stewardship, and employee development.” While the era of family operations may be ending, the Mueller commitments to guest service, the overall quality of the recreational experience for families, and employee opportunities form the basis of a legacy that will enable Okemo to continue as a successful family resort. It is a legacy that has created amazing mountain memories for many generations of guests and one that makes this transition in ownership a fitting one. From Vail Mountain to Vail Resorts Vail Resorts had its genesis in a vision that began with a dream to create a great family ski area. With investor funds and loans, Pete Seibert, along with the “finder” Earl Eaton, opened Vail Mountain on Dec. 15, 1962. A former ski racer, 10th Mountain Division veteran, and a New England native, Seibert was an entrepreneur who focused on creating a family ski area, and in ten years accomplished the world-class ski resort of his dreams. Fast forward to 1992 when Vail’s third-majority owner of Vail Associates filed for bankruptcy resulting in Apollo Advisors, a New York investment firm, taking control. Vail Associates transitioned to a Colorado powerhouse by acquiring Keystone and Breckenridge in 1996, and became Vail Resorts in a January 1997 IPO at $22.50 a share. Heavenly in Lake Tahoe was acquired in 2002. Rob Katz, who had worked on the acquisitions for Apollo, joined the Vail Resorts board. Apollo divested its Vail stock in 2004, but Katz remained on the board and became CEO in 2006 at age 39. Global Leader Bodes Well for Continuity Katz saw the potential for Vail Resorts to become a global leader in the mountain vacation experience and acquired: Northstar at Tahoe (2010), Kirkwood (2012), Canyons (2013), Park City (2014; connected to Canyons for 2015-16), Perisher Australia (2015), Whistler-Blackcomb, Canada (2016), Stowe (2017) and three urban areas in the Midwest — Mt. Brighton, Afton Alps and Wilmot, which serve important feeder markets. Vail Resorts’ strategy includes: owning areas in diverse geographic areas to reduce the impacts of unfavorable weather conditions or other negative influences; buying successful ski areas and continuing to improve them; focusing on the stability that season pass sales bring in business prediction for lift and other revenues like food, retail, rentals and lodging; guest-targeted marketing; and increasing the appeal of Epic Pass products with more local and destination ski areas to choose from and - continued on page 73 - - continued from page 69 - lives on under Vail Resorts ownership Mueller leg acy > 802-228-1600 > page 71