EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - Snow for ski areas is a little like grandmothers, sick kids and chicken soup - it usually helps, and it sure can't hurt.
The results of a better snow season showed up in a Vail Resorts report Monday detailing "ski season metrics" including revenue and skier numbers compared to last season.
According to the report, the numbers were adjusted as if Kirkwood, which was acquired in April 2012, was owned in both periods. The reported ski season metrics do not incorporate the recently acquired urban ski areas of Afton Alps and Mt. Brighton.
The report's highlights include:
• Season-to-date (through April 14) total lift ticket revenue at the Vail Resorts' seven mountain resorts, including some season pass revenue, increased 10.2 percent compared to the prior season.
• Other spending by guests outpaced growth in skier visits, with dining revenue up 13.1 percent and ski school revenue up 11.6 percent, with retail and rental revenue up 8.9 percent compared to the prior season-to-date period.
• Season-to-date total skier visits increased 5.5 percent.
"As the 2012-2013 ski season comes to a close, we are very pleased with the strong results this season," Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz wrote in a press release. "The growth in skier visitation continued to accelerate through spring break and the Easter holiday, which contributed to our double-digit growth in lift ticket, dining and ski school revenues compared to the same period last year, offset by somewhat slower momentum at our Tahoe resorts and our retail business."
Reached at his Denver office, National Ski Area Association President Michael Berry said Vail Resorts' success this season has been mirrored across the industry, for a simple reason: This was a better snow year.
Berry said final numbers won't be in until next week, but said resorts in the eastern part of the country did "very, very well."
Last year's snow in the east was mostly gone by March, Berry said. In comparison, the snow measurement site on Vail Mountain was reporting no snow in early April. Business was better in the northwest in and in California this season, too, Berry said, again due to snow.
As a result, the national ski industry will end up with about 57 million skier visits for this season, Berry said. That's close to the 10-year average of 57.5 million skier visits. Two seasons ago, the epic winter of 2010-11, the nation's ski industry recorded 60.5 million skier visits.
"Snow really does determine success," Berry said. "At the end of the day, you have to have a strong snow message."
That success this season is translating into more optimism for next season, Berry said, adding that ski pass sales this spring are stronger this year than last.
Katz made a similar comment in the press release accompanying the latest report from Vail Resorts:
"I am pleased to report that our spring season pass sales for the 2013-2014 ski season are off to a strong start, showing good momentum over last spring's record results for the program."