No bonuses this year
This is a mirror image of this time last fall, when the company rewarded the 400 or so people who eligible for hitting the specified goals, even though Sept. 11 had just happened and it became crystal clear that tough times were ahead for the tourist industry. Last year, the company also cut off raises until February.
The combination message did not go over particularly well with the rank and file, although to their immense credit, the front lines of Vail Resorts did a whale of a job last ski season. SKI magazine recognized their efforts in ranking Vail No. 1. If not always completely pleased with management, the workers made sure the guests were served very well.
This year at least the pain appears a bit more equitably distributed, and “leading by example” is a phrase that can actually be used. The upcoming year-end report to the SEC will show fairly clearly that the company this past year didn’t come within a country mile of hitting bonus-worthy goals. The colosus had a surprisingly strong winter season, but the other three quarters were predictably difficult.
The head guy, Adam Aron – CEO and chairman of the board if you like proper titles – will earn nearly half of his annual cash compensation compared to the previous year. No, he won’t feel the need to check out a unit at the Middle Creek apartments, should they ever be built. But this year, even he will feel the pinch on a very personal level.
Had a good chat the other day with former Vail Mayor Rob Ford. Ford, for whom affordable housing was an issue close to heart, is no fan of the Middle Creek affordable housing proposal for the Mountain Bell site that we so stridently have supported.
He doesn’t believe bigger complexes set apart from neighborhoods work very well in terms of becoming more a part of the community at large. He prefers smaller projects worked into each neighborhood to the bigger ones.
We disagree about the need and impact of Middle Creek, at 142 units in buildings up to six stories tall (but still shorter than that microwave tower). And we don’t see another “Timber Ridge,” the leased West Vail dump with its various challenges, so much as a more aesthetic “Tarnes.” We also think the need, looking at the longer term as opposed to say, August or September, is such that Middle Creek is a necessity. But Ford made sense. He has studied and agonized over affordable housing for a long time. We thank him for his efforts to engage an editor waxing a bit belicosely on the other side of this issue. D.R.