Vail Resorts skier visits drop 14.6 percent

More spring powder in Vail's Back Bowls could help skier visits rebound during the last few weeks of the season.

In quarterly earnings statement, company says revenue holds steady and announces $75 million in capital improvements, including a new Vail gondola

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — With Tahoe-area snowfall at only about 30 percent of average, Vail Resorts saw skier visits drop by about 32 percent at its California resorts, contributing to an overall decline in skier visits of about 15 percent for the second fiscal quarter of 2012.

The company announced that skier visits at its Colorado resorts were down about 8.8 percent for the quarter, with net revenue for the company’s mountain division dropping about 0.7 percent for the quarter.

In its quarterly earnings statement, Vail Resorts said the decline in skier visits was offset by a 13.8 percent increase in season pass revenue, as well as increases in revenue from ski school and food and beverage sales.

“This has been one of the most, if not the most, challenging winters for the U.S. ski industry,” VR CEO Rob Katz said in a press release. “We have seen the lowest snowfall levels in over 30 years for our Colorado resorts and weather patterns in Tahoe that have not been seen since the late 1800s,” acknowledged Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz. “Given that backdrop, we are very pleased with the strength and stability shown by our operating model, as we reported only modest declines across our major revenue lines in what many would consider a worst case weather scenario, which followed last season’s record setting snowfall.”

Sales at the Ritz-Carlton Residence and One Ski Hill Place in Breckenridge helped take the sting off the drop in skier visits, as real estate accounting for net cash proceeds of $23.8 million since the beginning of fiscal 2012 through March 5, 2012.

Katz said the company is hoping for that the final quarter of the ski season will bring the company’s bottom line close to last years, as trends for the Easter and spring break period appear positive.

Vail Resorts said it plans to spend about $75 million to $85 million on capital improvements this fiscal year, with $40 million to $45 million going toward maintenance projects including routine replacement of snow grooming equipment and rental equipment.

The centerpiece of the company’s 2012 capital plan is a new, 10-person, state-of-the-art gondola with heated cabins and Wi-Fi serving as the gateway to Vail Mountain through Vail Village, where almost one-half of Vail Mountain guests start their ski day. The new lift is expected to reduce wait times by increasing uphill capacity by 40 percent.

Other key elements of the company’s capital plan include new retail stores at select resorts, implementing a new retail point-of-sale system with more dynamic pricing capabilities, adding further enhancements to the company’s EpicMix smartphone application, and continued investments in marketing technology initiatives including customer relationship marketing (CRM) systems.


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