Every Tuesday, we pick our favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.
Like many industries, much of the ski business is controlled by a handful of large companies. There are six such businesses in the Americas that operate more than 50 lifts each. Their combined 589 lifts account for one fifth of all the lifts in North America and almost a third of the VTFH (vertical transport feet per hour.) The top three operators are, as you would expect, Vail Resorts, Boyne Resorts and Intrawest. But there are others including Mammoth Mountain, LLC which operates 55 lifts at four different ski areas in California and Powdr Corporation which has 68 lifts in five states.
Vail Resorts doesn’t just own lots of lifts; the lifts they operate are bigger, newer and faster than average. This winter, the company will operate 15 gondolas and tramways, 75 detachable chairlifts and 83 fixed grip chairlifts. These numbers for Vail Resorts do not even include the lifts at Perisher, the company’s newest acquisition in Australia. If you put each lift at each of Vail’s resorts end to end, the total length would be 115 miles. The average lift owned by Vail Resorts is 21.5 years old, six years newer than the national average. 56 percent of Vail’s lifts were built by Doppelmayr and CTEC, 14 percent by Leitner-Poma. Vail accounts for 11.4% of all the vertical transport capacity on the continent, with a total VTFH of 353 million!
The second biggest resort operator is privately-owned Boyne Resorts, which has 126 lifts at 11 mountains. Boyne doesn’t actually own most of the properties it operates; instead holding long-term leases through CNL Lifestyle Properties. The lifts Boyne operates are older and smaller than Vail’s. They include 30 detachable chairlifts and 85 fixed-grip chairs. Doppelmayr and CTEC built 45 percent of Boyne’s lifts, followed by Riblet at 20 percent. Boyne accounts for 5.3 percent of the total VTFH in North America or 162 million.