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The Unconventional Charm of EPR Properties' Unique Portfolio

Experiences That Connect us: EPR Properties' Vision EPR Properties (NYSE: EPR) might not be your typical real estate investment trust (REIT), but that's exactly what President and CEO Greg Silvers intends. The company's diverse portfolio,...

Experiences That Connect us: EPR Properties' Vision

EPR Properties (NYSE: EPR) might not be your typical real estate investment trust (REIT), but that's exactly what President and CEO Greg Silvers intends. The company's diverse portfolio, which includes schools, movie theatres, Top Golf sites, and ski resorts, is built on the belief that these properties serve as "social infrastructure" where people can create memorable experiences with loved ones and gain valuable education.

With investments totaling $6.8 billion across 400 locations in 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada, EPR Properties' portfolio stands out. Notably, their 25 ski properties, primarily located in New England, comprise 10 percent of the company's holdings. These properties, occupying 16,000 acres of skiable land, are not only fully occupied but also embrace a unique strategy that sets them apart.

Focus on Accessibility: Drive-To Resorts Stealing the Show

While popular ski destinations like Park City or Aspen may attract skiers for their picturesque slopes, Silvers understands that most visitors can only make it to these "destination" resorts once or twice a year. This insight led EPR Properties to focus on investing in resorts that are within a three-hour drive of major metropolitan areas.

Silvers explains, "By offering resorts that are easily accessible, we ensure that skiers can visit our properties more frequently, generally between four to six times a year. These local resorts withstand economic shocks better because even when people cannot travel long distances, they can still plan day trips or weekend getaways to nearby ski resorts."

In fact, from January 2017 to January 2018, EPR's New England ski resorts alone recorded over 1 million admissions. Nationally, their ski resorts welcomed 1.96 million visitors. Silvers attributes this success to their focus on family-oriented demographics, particularly older millennials with young families and baby boomers seeking to create cherished memories with their loved ones.

EPR's commitment to providing exceptional experiences also extends to maintaining their ski resorts' snowmaking capability. This ensures that when the temperature is right, people can always enjoy the thrill of skiing. Moreover, all their resorts prioritize eco-friendly practices, using water sources to convert into snow.

Making a Difference: Economic Growth and Year-Round Appeal

EPR's ski resorts not only contribute to unforgettable experiences but also play a vital role in local communities. As Silvers states, "Ski resorts often act as the economic driver of the area, boosting employment opportunities and overall growth."

However, the impact of these resorts goes beyond the winter season. Brian Moriarty, EPR's Vice President of Corporate Communications, notes that ski resorts are expanding their influence year-round, generating substantial revenue even during summer. Surprisingly, the National Ski Area Association reveals that some resorts make as much as 40 percent of their total revenue in the summer season.

Taking advantage of the natural terrain, these ski resorts offer a range of exciting summer and shoulder season activities such as zip lines, mountain coasters, and mountain biking. Some resorts have even added summer concert series, culinary events, and wedding facilities to diversify their offerings. Silvers emphasizes the importance of synergy among their properties, saying, "We aim to create 'emotional ownership' for our customers, where they can proudly say, 'That's where we ski, enjoy concerts, and immerse ourselves in nature during spring, summer, and fall.'"

Local Pride: Regional Operators and Community Bond

While Vail Resorts may dominate the headlines when it comes to ski resort ownership, Silvers takes pride in EPR's regional operators and their deep connection to the properties they oversee. These operators are closely tied to their communities and actively seek to deliver exceptional experiences that resonate with the locals.

"We have found great success in identifying high-quality operators in regional markets, individuals who are well-known and deeply valued by the community," states Silvers. EPR Properties works closely with these operators to enhance their resorts, upgrading facilities, food and beverage services, and other amenities to elevate the customer experience.

Furthermore, EPR Properties fosters loyalty through season passes that grant access to multiple ski resorts within their network. This approach not only encourages skiers to visit more frequently but also drives consistent cash flow for the properties. Leveraging decades of historical data from family-owned resorts, EPR Properties predicts revenue streams and strategically grows its ski resort portfolio.

The company's commitment to leisure and entertainment properties, including ski resorts, remains unwavering. Following the sale of some resort properties last year, EPR Properties is actively seeking new acquisitions to maintain its diverse mix and continue offering memorable experiences to its customers.

From ski enthusiasts seeking adventure to families creating lifelong memories, EPR Properties' unconventional and diverse portfolio highlights the power of experiences that bring people together. Through their drive-to resorts, commitment to local communities, and year-round appeal, EPR Properties is redefining the ski resort industry one slope at a time.

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