HASTINGS, MN—Broomfield, Colo.-based Vail Resorts said recently that it will pay $20 million cash for two ski resorts in the Midwest: Afton Alps here and Mount Brighton in Brighton, Mich.

Vail Resorts plans to upgrade and enhance the experience at each resort and create opportunities to connect guests from each of these ski areas to its seven resorts in Colorado and Lake Tahoe through season pass and other lift ticket products.

Rob Katz, chairman and CEO of Vail, said these acquisitions are part of a new strategy to drive season pass sales and build broader guest loyalty by looking at premier smaller ski areas located near major urban markets. “We plan to bring state-of-the-art racing, terrain parks, coaching and technology to the guest experience,” he said in a statement. “We also will connect these urban ski areas to our world-class resorts in Colorado, California and Nevada with new season pass offerings, providing the chance to experience the best skiing and riding locally and in the West.”

The 300-acre Afton Alps, built by the Augustine Family, has five chalets. The hill at Brighton was created with debris from building nearby highways. Both hills often use artificial snow. Vail plans to invest in capital upgrades to the ski areas and infrastructure, as well as adding summer activities. The company expects to complete the purchase of both urban ski areas within the next month.