Vail Resorts announces widespread furloughs and salary reductions, puts plans for new lifts on hold

The Breckenridge Ski Resort gondola sits empty March 16. Vail Resorts announced March 17 that most of its mountains in North America will close for the rest of the season.
Courtesy Elaine Collins

DILLON — On Wednesday, Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz announced widespread furloughs and pay reductions in a letter to employees. While all seasonal workers already have been laid off and asked to leave employee housing, the new cost-saving measures were directed at year-round and salaried employees in the U.S.

Katz wrote in the letter that the company is furloughing nearly all U.S. year-round hourly employees starting April 4 for at least one to two months. That includes 706 employees in Summit County, according to Director of Communications Ryan Huff. These employees will be without pay, but those who are currently enrolled in the company’s health insurance program will retain their coverage, and the company will pay the premiums. 

Katz also wrote that salaried employees in the U.S. will see a 5% to 25% salary reduction for six months based on their pay grades. The 25% salary reduction is for senior executives, and Katz noted that he is forfeiting 100% of his salary and is eliminating cash compensation for the Board of Directors over the next six months. The company also is suspending its 401(k) match for six months, eliminating June and September dividends to shareholders, and reducing capital ventures by $80 million to $85 million, including deferring all plans for new chairlifts.

Breckenridge Ski Resort and Keystone Resort each had a new lift planned for next season, including a high-speed quad on Peak 7 at Breckenridge and the replacement of the Peru lift in Keystone’s base area with a higher-capacity lift.

The company announced previously that the early closure of North American resort operations would cost at least $180 million to $200 million in lost revenue. Katz added in his letter that some business operations are set to open in the next few months, including the Australian winter season and resort summer operations in North America, which account for 20% of the company’s revenue. He acknowledged that these operations also could close if the coronavirus shutdown continues. 

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