Vail experienced a 2.8 percent drop in skier visits this season and suffered a devastating drought in its west resorts, Tahoe’s snowpack (home to Vail Resorts-operated Heavenly, Kirkwood, and Northstar) had the worst winter on record while Utah’s (home to Vail-operated Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort) already meager snowpack melted away to nothing. Late this spring was notoriously bad in many of Vail’s nine mountain resorts. Yet when the latest season metrics compared this season to the previous year through April 20, 2014, Vail still reported modest increases in revenue compared to last year.
How is Vail making all this cash? Simply put, skiers are spending more money and buying season passes early. Highlights of Vail Reosrts’ latest report include:
- At Vail’s nine mountain resorts, season-to-date lift revenue (including some season pass revenue) was up 8.5 percent compared to the prior year.
- When they are at one of Vail’s properties, skiers are spending more money. Season-to-date ancillary spending outpaced skier visitation. Vail Resorts’ ski school revenue is up 3.4 percent, dining revenue is up 3.3 percent, and retail/rental revenue is up 3.8 percent.
- Season-to-date total skier visits were down 2.8 percent.
Vail Resorts secures much of its profits before the snow starts flying. As Rob Katz, Vail Resorts CEO points out, Vail’s season pass program “secured significant revenue in advance of the season and mitigated the volatility of results and by expanding yields through increasingly sophisticated pricing, promotion and distribution strategies.”
Reading between the lines, the pricing of the early bird deals for a season pass may not be such a bargain when you start factoring in the uncertainty of the snow conditions, particularly when you consider the release of all your legal rights against the resort with the purchase.