Vail Resorts reports solid skier numbers

Thanks to good snow in Colorado and Utah, and no thanks to the continuing drought near Lake Tahoe, Vail Resorts said skier numbers and revenue have been solid so far this year.

The company, which owns ski resorts in three Western states and elsewhere, recently reported “solid second-quarter growth” during a conference call with Vail Resorts Chief Executive Officer Rob Katz.

Operations revenue, from pass sales to lodging to ski schools and restaurants, increased despite the drought near Lake Tahoe, where the company operates the Heavenly and Northstar resorts.

Katz said current seasonal snowfall at those resorts is down 43 percent from last season’s low snow total.

Katz said the company’s overall success is due in part to “geographic diversification.”

This season, the snow has been in Colorado and Utah, where Vail Resorts now owns or operates the Canyons Resort and the adjacent Park City Mountain Resort.

Vail said total skier visits at its nine resorts — four in Colorado, three in California and two in Utah — through March 8 were down 0.3 percent compared with the prior year.

As was the case last year, it was mostly a matter of increased visits in Colorado and Utah overcoming poor numbers in dry California.

And contrary to what some industry watchers might suppose, Katz said the Colorado numbers would have been even better had Vail and Beaver Creek resorts not staged the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships in early February.

“The event was an extraordinary showcase of both resorts,” he said, but “did depress skier visits and financial performance at both resorts ... in line with our expectations.”

“But the minute the championships were over, we saw a marked improvement at Vail and Beaver Creek,” Katz said.

Vail Resorts also reported having paid off everything it borrowed to complete the $182.5 million purchase of Park City Mountain Resort in September.

Katz said plans continue for a “transformative” $50 million off-season investment to connect Park City Mountain and Canyons resorts.


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