Vail Resorts announced last week a 3.9 percent increase in its yearly mountain-related revenue during the company’s fourth quarter and fiscal year earnings call. Snowfall in Colorado was at a 30-year low during the 2009-10 ski season, but Vail managed growth in mountain revenues, which includes lift ticket, dining, ski school, retail and rental revenues. Season pass sales have improved significantly from the third quarter report in June, when they were down about 15 percent from the previous year. Pass sales are now down about 1 percent compared to the same time last year.

Overall, the company saw an 11.1 percent decrease in total net revenue, with $868.6 million in fiscal 2010 compared to $977 million in fiscal 2009 – the company attributes this difference to the timing of real estate closings.
Retail and rental revenue was up 5 percent, or $7.4 million, mainly because of higher retail sales and rental volume at Vail, Beaver Creek and Breckenridge. Retail and rental revenue got a boost in the spring when snowfall was better and the resorts had higher skier visits than earlier in the winter.
Season pass prices across the board are up about $10 to $20, depending on the pass. Pass sales tend to increase just before a deadline for when a certain pass price is guaranteed. Those deadlines come up in mid-October and mid-November. Of course, the cost benefits of a season pass should be weighed against the potential cost of signing a waiver releasing Vail of liability for injuries.

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