Vail Daily letter: Just walk away
October 12, 2013
To Mr. Rob Katz, CEO, Vail Resorts,
My wife and I started skiing in Vail in 1983, bought our first home here in 1987, and retired here in 2003. Vail Resorts and predecessors have done an increasingly fabulous job of upgrading terrain, lifts, restaurants and other facilities. For these reasons, most consider Colorado (primarily Vail and Aspen) the finest ski destination in the world.
Vail Resorts has done a stellar job of enriching shareholder values. Compound rates of gain in the stock price approximate 21 percent annually for the last 10 years and 35 percent from the recession bottom in 2009. Since you started as chief executive officer in 2006, and have been a director since 1996, you deserve a large share of the credit for the exemplary performance. I come not to bury you, but to praise you.
The planned roller coaster in Beaver Creek is annoying the residents, and nonresidents such as my wife and me. We treasure the wilderness environment and recoil at anything that detracts from the grandeur of the Colorado mountain experience.
Additions such as Kestrel and the high-speed quad in Rose Bowl are applauded because they enhance the experience at Beaver Creek and over time will help perpetuate crowds in Beano’s, Allie’s, Zach’s, the Chop House and the Golden Eagle, etc. Additions such as the roller coaster create friction because they run counter to the wishes of the majority who treasure the solitude and serenity of the Beaver Creek mountains. Roller coasters are no doubt fashionable in heavily populated urban metropolises, but they are base and tasteless on a world-class ski hill. Had you chosen a location at the top of the mountain, you would have at least appeased some of the property owners.
From a business standpoint, you could hardly be looking for much of a return on investment from the roller coaster. It is hardly needed to fuel earnings. Your forays into Utah and California and elsewhere will no doubt drive your future growth.
Respectfully, Mr. Katz, you have very little to gain with this divisive exercise and a whole lot to lose. We love Beaver Creek as a ski resort, and we are not seeking an amusement park here. Please quietly walk away from the roller coaster.