Vail Resorts reports early season business declines

Ski school, dining were especially hard-hit

Vail Resorts Friday reported year-over-year declines in many parts of its North American operations.
Special to the Daily

In the ski season so far, Vail Resorts is reporting some significant declines in its business.

The company Friday reported “certain ski season metrics” for the comparative periods from the beginning of the ski season through Jan. 3, and for the prior year period through Jan. 5, 2020.

The reported ski season metrics are for the company’s North American destination mountain resorts and regional ski areas, and exclude the results of Vail Resorts’ Australian ski areas in both periods. The data mentioned in a Friday release is interim period data and is subject to fiscal quarter-end review and adjustments.

The release reports that:

  • Season-to-date total skier visits were down 16.6% compared to the prior year period.
  • Season-to-date total lift ticket revenue, including an allocated portion of season pass revenue for each applicable period, was down 20.9% compared to the prior year.
  • Season-to-date ski school revenue was down 52.6% and dining revenue was down 66.2% compared to the prior year. Retail/rental revenue for North American resort and ski area store locations was down 39.2% compared to the prior year.

“As expected, COVID-19 has had a significant negative impact on our 2020/2021 North American ski season-to-date results,” Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz said in the release. “Visitation across our North American resorts declined relative to prior year levels, primarily as a result of declines in visitation from non-pass, lift ticket purchases. We expect these declines were primarily driven by reduced demand for destination visitation at our western resorts and COVID-19 related capacity limitations which were further impacted by snowfall levels that were well below average at our Colorado, Utah and Tahoe resorts through the holiday season. Visitation was particularly impacted in regions where heightened COVID-19 related restrictions exist, including Whistler Blackcomb, Tahoe and Vermont.

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“We are pleased with the resilience of our guest demand, with local visitation at our western resorts in line with our prior year results and destination visitation supported by our strong season pass sales results leading into the season.

“Consistent with our expectations, our ancillary lines of business saw material season-to-date revenue declines in excess of the declines in visitation as a result of the COVID-19 limitations and restrictions, particularly in food and beverage and ski school. Additionally, our lodging revenue is experiencing quarter-to-date declines relative to prior year that are similar to our first quarter of fiscal 2021.”

Katz added that despite the setbacks, “… we are pleased with our overall revenue performance compared to the prior year period.”

Katz added that given the uncertainty COVID-19 has created for travel demand and other parts of the resort business, the company won’t provide full fiscal-year guidance for 2021. The company’s fiscal year runs Aug. 1 — July 31.

Katz added that if capacity restrictions remain stable and normal snowfall conditions return to Colorado, Utah and the Lake Tahoe area, the company expects to see “improved performance” for the remainder of the season.

The reported ski season metrics include growth for season pass revenue based on estimated fiscal year 2021 North American season pass revenue compared to fiscal year 2020 North American season pass revenue. The metrics include all North American destination mountain resorts and regional ski areas and are adjusted to eliminate the impact of foreign currency by applying current period exchange rates to the prior period for Whistler Blackcomb’s results.

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