Major capital investments announced for upcoming seasons
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Vail Resorts said business bounced back after a slow start to the season, with some of the company’s resorts posting record business during the Christmas holiday period. VR’s net income climbed 30.5 percent, to $60.5 million in the second fiscal quarter compared to last season, with skier visits up 2.9 percent and mountain net revenue up by 9.5 percent.
“We are very pleased with our performance in the second quarter of fiscal 2013, which was notable for two distinct dynamics we experienced in the quarter,” VR CEO Rob Katz said this week during a call announcing the company’s second quarter earnings. “The first was our results through the middle of December, which were marked by unusually warm and dry weather in Colorado that limited the terrain we could open, leading to lower than expected results for our four Colorado resorts. Continue reading “Colorado: Vail Resorts says mid-winter business rebounded”→
FRISCO — Vail Resorts is looking to boost uphill capacity at its Eagle County resorts by replacing a few aging quad chairlifts with six-seaters, as well as making a few other on-mountain infrastructure improvements. The upgrades are consistent with previously approved master plans for Vail and Beaver Creek, but the U.S. Forest Service is taking public input on the projects before approving them. Continue reading “Skiing: Vail, Beaver Creek plan lift upgrades”→
FRISCO — Vail Resorts failed last week to convince a judge that avalanches are an inherent risk of skiing on the company’s flagship mountain. Broomfield District Court Judge Patrick Murphy declined to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the family of Taft Conlin, who was killed by a snowslide on Prima Cornice in January 2012.
The company’s argument that avalanches are an inherent risk of skiing inbounds at ski areas may surprise a great many skiers, most of whom probably assume that they won’t be exposed to avalanche danger when they’re riding resort lifts and skiing on marked trails. Read Vail’s motion to dismiss here.
Advocating on behalf of Conlin’s family and for all skiers, attorney Jim Heckbert urged the court to reject Vail Resorts’ claims.
Colorado’s second consecutive early season snow drought may be affecting pass sales and advance bookings
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Vail Resorts stock swooned a bit, but then started to recover, after CEO and chairman Rob Katz, said this week that it may be a challenge for his company to achieve its previously stated earnings goals.
MTN dropped as much as 12 percent and ended the day down 8 percent, at about $52 per share, after Katz said that early season booking trends are not as strong as they could be. The stock price started to recover Wednesday, climbing back up about 2.5 percent, perhaps with investors, just like skiers, taking a wait and see attitude.
That was Katz’s line, too, as he told investors that the holiday season will likely tell the tale.
“We will know more about the season after the holidays and intend to address our fiscal 2013 guidance when we release our ski season metrics in mid-January,” Katz said in the earning statements released to investors early Tuesday morning.
For the first quarter of fiscal year 2013, the company reported a net loss of $60.6 million compared to a net loss of $55.7 million in the same period in the prior year, a decline of 8.7 percent.
Season passes helped drive revenue in the quarter, with sales to-date (including 4-Packs) up about 5 percent in units and approximately 8 percent in revenue compared to the same period in the prior year, and adjusted as if Kirkwood were owned in both periods.
But lack of early season snowfall in Colorado may be affecting overall sales. Katz said current weather conditions are a concern for skiers who have delayed their pass-purchasing decisions.
“The total growth of the (pass) program is slightly below our expectations, as we believe that the amount of sales that we pulled forward to earlier selling periods was somewhat larger than expected,” he said. “Sales in Tahoe and international markets continued to show the most strength. We expect the final results of the program will be generally consistent with these percentage increases as final sales conclude in the coming weeks,” he added.
Overall, lodging reservations are slightly down from last year, but a kids-ski-free with lodging program at Keystone has helped drive strong early bookings at that Summit County resort. Based on historical averages, less than half the winter season reservations are on the books this time of year.
With the ski season just ramping up, Katz said the earnings figures from the first fiscal quarter generally reflect late summer activity at the company’s properties, and that there were “positive trends” in summer mountain and lodging operations, with improved visitation driving increased revenue from summer activities and dining.
The company sold four luxury condos at the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Vail and reported a positive net real estate cash flow of $5.5 million for the quarter.
FRISCO — Barring legal action, Breckenridge Ski Area could start implementing the controversial Peak 6 expansion as soon as early December after regional Forest Service officials rejected an appeal filed by a coalition of conservation groups, skiers and local residents. Read the appeal here.
Scott Armentrout, Supervisor of the Gunnison, Uncompahgre and Grand Mesa National Forests, the appeal reviewing officer, wrote Nov. 14 that he found that the approval for the project did not violate any federal laws, regulations or policies and recommended upholding White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams’ decision to approve the 550-acre expansion.
The formal decision was made by appeals deciding officer Brian Ferebee, a deputy regional forester for resources. Read the full appeal decision here, and a summary of the appeal decision here.
Start to Vail’s 50th anniversary season marked with homage to resort’s ski racingtradition
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Vail will start its 50th anniversary season in style, as Olympic champions Lindsey Vonn, Bode Miller, Julie Mancuso and other U.S. Ski Team members gather Nov. 15 for the annual Nature Valley First Tracks event, which includes the ceremonial naming of the team and a fan appreciation and autograph session.
The event also kicks off opening weekend at Vail, where the lifts will roll on Nov. 16.
“It’s always fun for me to meet people who are as passionate about skiing as I am. The U.S. Ski Team naming in Vail is a blast and the community really comes out to support us,” said Lindsey Vonn, only the second woman to win four overall World Cup titles, and the first American woman to win an Olympic downhill gold medal. Continue reading “U.S. Ski Team naming ceremony set for Nov. 15 at Vail”→
Breckenridge remains the top-ranked Summit County resort
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Colorado ski areas once again dominated the annual SKI magazine reader polls, but only two Summit County resorts cracked the top 20 — not surprising, given that most of the local areas — with the exception of A-Basin — emphasize quantity over quality.
After a five-year run in the number one spot, Deer Valley yielded to Whistler-Blackcomb, which won on the overall strength of its many attributes, including terrain variety, snow quantity and, of course, its vibrant nightlife. But readers of the magazine, who rate resorts annually in detailed surveys, recognized that the somewhat unpredictable weather in the Pacific Northwest can sometimes be a damper.