Lack of snow slows Vail Resorts’ revenue stream
January 12, 2018
Vail Resorts on Friday assigned numbers to the so-far-anecdotal evidence that the slow start to the season is pinching the resort industry.
The continent's largest ski resort operator showed steep declines in spending and visitation at its network of North American ski resorts. Ski-school revenue through the first week of January was down 4.5 percent compared to last season. Retail sales were down 11.5 percent. Skier visits to Vail Resorts' 11 destination ski areas in Colorado, California, Utah, Vermont and British Columbia were down 10.8 percent.
Still, thanks to skiers and snowboarders buying nearly 750,000 Epic Passes for 2017-18, the company's season-pass sales revenue was up 1.6 percent compared to the same period last season. In early December, the company reported that Epic Pass sales were up 14 percent in units and 20 percent in revenue compared to the previous season.
"Given the truly historic low snowfall across our western U.S. resorts, we are pleased with our results to date, which reflect the stability provided by our season pass program and the investments we have made in our resorts," Vail Resorts chief Rob Katz said in a statement on Friday. "The 2017/18 ski season had a very challenging start across our western U.S. resorts due to poor conditions in the early season that continued through the holiday period, reducing both local and destination visitation and spending."
Katz said seasonal snowfall in November and December in Vail and Beaver Creek, and Park City, Utah, was the lowest recorded in more than 30 years. In Vail and Beaver Creek, Katz said, snowfall is more than 50 percent lower than the next lowest season. Snowfall at the company's Heavenly and Northstar ski areas around Lake Tahoe in California was 69 percent below the 20-year average for the start of the ski season, Katz said, heralding recent storms that have delivered long-awaited snow.