Q&A with Alterra Mountain Group President David Perry
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When David Perry announced to the local business community that his company was prepared to invest in Steamboat Ski Area, The Steamboat Grand ballroom erupted in applause.
Perry is the president and chief operating officer of Alterra Mountain Group, which purchased Steamboat Ski Area and its sister resorts July 31.
During the ski area’s 19th annual Airline Summit, community members were invited to learn about Perry and his company’s plans.
Perry has spent more than four decades in the ski industry and, most recently, came from Aspen Skiing Company to lead the new company, which was named Alterra in January.
“We are open for business,” Perry said. “We are going to keep investing in this business. We think we are going to make our resorts the best they can possibly be, and we are very confident we are going to be the No. 1 mountain resort company in the world in the coming years.”
Alterra has announced it will be launching the Ikon Pass with access to its 12 ski destinations as well as 11 partner destinations in nine states and three Canadian provinces.
It is still not known how the pass will work or how much it will cost.
Perry touched on those questions as well as others during his presentation Tuesday.
Q: This season, Vail’s Epic Pass with unlimited access to 15 resorts cost $859. How much will the Ikon Pass cost, and how many ski days will be included at what resorts?
Perry: “We have not announced the price yet. There will be a couple versions of the Ikon Pass that you will hear about very soon, and the pricing will be very competitive with very good value, so I’ll put it that way.”
Q: Why is Ikon spelled with a K?
Perry: “If we spelled it with a C, we couldn’t trademark it because it’s a word in the English language.”
Q: An unlimited pass to Steamboat and Winter Park purchased before this season cost cost $1,149. Should people expect to pay less next season?
Perry: “Stay tuned for a couple more weeks.”
Q: Vail recently announced Telluride will be added to their Epic Pass. Will any additional destinations be added to the Ikon Pass?
Perry: “The story of partnerships may not be done, so stay tuned.”
Q: What about ski resorts beyond North America being added to the Ikon Pass?
Perry: “Once again, I would say stay tuned on that, but we are interested in having partnerships. There are a number of international destinations that very much want to join the Ikon Pass. We’ve heard from a number of them already, but I’ll tell you our primary focus is definitely North America.”
Q: What are the infrastructure improvements Alterra is considering to modernize Steamboat Ski Area?
Perry: “We’re really working closely with Rob (Perlman, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. president and COO) and his senior team at Steamboat here to figure out where we should invest in capital to do the best things we can do. We’ve got great ideas. Rob has big eyes and a big order book of things he’d like to do. We’re going through that actually right now. We had a capital summit in November. We were here a month ago … looking at a lot of the options for where … to put in some capital. We’re looking hard at the base area to see how we can make improvements to the base area to bring it into a more modern age. There are a lot of stairs — a lot of nooks and crannies. I know it’s a very complex puzzle — the very base of Steamboat. We know that there is phase two of the gondola that we want to get done to improve capacity on the gondola. Phase one was done last year. We’re looking at a few other things. I can’t promise them today, but we will be investing capital in Steamboat, and we have lots of big projects to choose from. Your team is advocating very strongly for improvements here at Steamboat, and we will expend some capitol here in (20)18 and (20)19.”
Q: Will there be a pass just for the Colorado resorts?
Perry: “The answer is generally no. We think that the broader network on the pass is really going to be what’s important.”
Q: Do you envision air service linking Alterra resorts and its partners?
Perry: “I think there are obviously great opportunities to partner with some of the airlines that are right here in the room to build a travel program, especially airlines that offer multiple destinations in our family. Right now, with our company six months old, my biggest challenge is prioritizing what to focus on and what not to focus on.”
Q: How does revenue sharing work with Ikon Pass and Alterra’s partner resorts?
Perry: “It’s a really interesting and complex business puzzle … I would say that each of the partnerships that we did were different negotiations … Each one of them we’re very happy with, and I think our partners are very happy with. The revenue sharing is fair and very balanced, and it reflects the stature of each of the resorts.”
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The Wheeler Opera House will remain dark into 2021, with current COVID-19 public health orders in place. Meanwhile, the masonry work on the exterior of the building will continue into July.