Statements released on Feb. 5, 2024 by both Arapahoe Basin and Alterra Mountain Company stated that Alterra, the conglomerate that owns the Ikon Pass, plans to purchase A-Basin this year.
Alterra also owns Winter Park Resort and Steamboat Ski Resort in Colorado. If the sale goes through, it would bring Alterra’s portfolio to 18 year-round mountain destinations in North America.
Dream Unlimited Corp., a Canadian real estate company based in Toronto, has owned A-Basin since 1997.
No Frills Resort
A-Basin opened in 1946 and was Summit County’s first operating ski area. While ownership has changed a number of times over the years, the ski area is known for its no frills “anti-resort” status.
Despite partnerships with the two largest conglomerates in the ski resort industry, A-Basin has been able to manage smaller weekend crowds.
A-Basin is currently partnered with Alterra to provide limited days for Ikon Pass holders. Before the partnership with Alterra, A-Basin was included with the Epic Pass owned by Vail Resorts.
The ski area moved from Epic to Ikon in 2019, citing overcrowding as the main reason. In an effort to decrease visitation and create a more relaxed environment, days on the Ikon were limited to five or seven days depending on if the pass is the Ikon Base or Full Ikon.
The split from Vail Resorts proved to be successful with visitation at 75% of what it was during the 2018-2019 season during the 2022-2023 season.
“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 the people,” Arapahoe Basin Ski Area Chief Operating Officer Alan 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.”
Changes For The Future
Henceroth said he’s confident A-Basin will keep the same atmosphere under Alterra’s ownership.
No changes will be made to the passes for this season.
“We haven’t even started talking about what the future’s going to be like in terms of specifics,” A-Basin Chief Operating Officer Alan Henceroth said. “But (Alterra’s) buying A-Basin because they like it and they like what we’re doing.”
After 36 years of employment with A-Basin, Henceroth will continue his role as COO under Alterra. He will lead the resort daily operations as well as future capital improvement projects. Plans for expanding parking and snowmaking are in the works.
Regulars at the ski resort are hopeful that prices and crowds will remain low.
“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, we don’t want that.”
McCaffrey has been skiing at A-Basin since 1993. Her husband, John Wickershein, has been skiing since 1974. A-Basin has been their ski area of choice as neighboring resorts have become too expensive for four- and five-day passes.
“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.
Benji Perez of Denver has been skiing at A-Basin since 2014. He has bought the full-season A-Basin pass rather than the Epic or Ikon passes for the past four seasons. Part of the reason is because A-Basin in quieter compared to the other resorts.
“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 added that he will continue to ski at A-Basin if the same atmosphere is maintained under new ownership.
Aaron Landau, a friend of Perez, said A-Basin has become his home mountain. He compares A-Basin to Mt. Baker Ski Area in northwest Washington where he grew up skiing.
“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.”
The possibility of more access to Ikon Pass holders is a concern that those loyal to A-Basin have expressed.
Henceroth said that A-Basin is committed to a good experience and knows that includes not letting the crowds get out of control.
“The Basin’s going to be just as awesome as it has been,” Henceroth said. “I don’t have any doubt about it.”