Perisher await governance review

17 0703 Peter Brulisauer

Perisher’s Chief Operating Officer Peter Brulisauer on the opening weekend.

by Steve Cuff

Since Vail Resorts have purchased Perisher there has been plenty of hype with people expecting big money to be injected into the resort. While Perisher have been spending on snowmaking and Skitube upgrades and going about their business of improving the resort, the big ticket items like lifts or building have not yet materialised.
One key reason for this is Perisher, National Parks and even Charlotte Pass will all be affected later this year by the restructure of the current lease system.
In October, National Parks are expected to announce whether they will grant a head lease. The most likely recipient of that head lease is Perisher.
Snowy Mountains Magazine caught up with Perisher’s Chief Operating Officer, Peter Brulisauer, and asked him about the future of the resort, would there be a new village in some capacity and what did he think of year round potential of Perisher.
“In the head lease model one of the great things is that the lift company that has the most capital in the resort and therefore wants to ensure the success of the resort. It has the ability to set a vision for the resort and come up with master plans for the resort for the mountain and for the village.
“Then come up with strategies to execute to those master plans and realise it and make it a far better place.
“You can do that in that head lease role, looking at all the commercial challenges, climate change, summer opportunities, all those sort of things to figure out where you want to take the resort forward.
Brulisauer did acknowledge that a village upgrade was really needed and it is what the community wants as well.
“If the Perisher village doesn’t result from the governance review, then I think whoever is in charge of village planning post the governance review is going to have to have a good look at that, and sort it out. It needs to be sorted out and they (community) have told the government that.”

In discussion it was obvious in this current climate that more beds, via a village, would be beneficial to all parties concerned. There are more season pass holders, some who would be keen to invest in a village apartment and it would alleviate some stress on the roads with more people staying on snow.
“All the 800 beds were all slated to go on the Perisher car park in the Perisher Village, there are probably a few more beds that are still able to be developed within the limit, and that takes Perisher to be about 4800 beds in the limit,” said Brulisauer.
“We are the biggest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere, we do an awful lot of skier visits, significantly more than our closest competitors, and yet we have got far less than some of the Victorian resorts for example who have 7000 beds.
“Our view is that a lot of people would refer to stay on snow if they could, and yeah the bed mix needs to be dealt with and the government is starting to look at that through the capacity review they started last year.”
When asked would they also be looking to acquire if they were to be granted the head lease, which would encompass the whole of Perisher Valley up to Charlotte Pass, Brulisauer said, “We are not going to really comment on that at this stage, there is a governance review going on that is looking at that, so we don’t have any comment.”

A view of Perisher’s Front Valley area. Photo courtesy of Perisher.

When asked were Perisher interested in doing mountain biking and having a summer resort Brulisauer responded, “Yes under the right conditions, so that goes back to leasing arrangements.”
“Right now under a head lease model, the organisation that holds the head lease is incentivised to invest in activities, so whether it is mountain biking or alpine slides or open a chairlift or whatever it might be.
“The more visitors that they attract to their resort, the more revenue is spent in the resort and that assists all of the lessees of the head lessee. That encourages investment in mountain biking and in Perisher there is no head lease and the commercial structure for us to get a return from investment in mountain biking is very different.
“We would argue that right now the economics of mountain biking in Perisher because of the lease structure is very difficult, so that is another thing that the governance review will affect, is the amount of investment in summer in Perisher.
“You have to acknowledge that other resorts have been investing in summer for a while, and it is starting to work for them and if you want to invest and make summer work in Perisher than there needs to be the right leasing and governance and commercial structure put in place to make it happen.”
Brulisauer did also say during the interview, “I think Rob Katz (Vail Resorts CEO) has made it very clear that Vail Resorts absolutely intends on investing in Perisher to improve the guest experience and the business.”

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