Vail Resorts layoffs done in confidence |

Vail Resorts layoffs done in confidence

Cliff Thompson

The company announced it would lay off 50 people and leave unfilled an additional 50 vacant positions.

“We will not be releasing names or positions of those laid off out of respect for those individuals,” said Vail Resorts’ spokeswoman Kelly Ladyga. “It’s a very sad and difficult day for us. Each of the individuals affected has contributed to the popularity of our resorts. They deserve our appreciation. As such, we have been generous with separation packages to help them pursue transitions to new opportunities.”

The company missed its earnings projections by $12 million, and its stock reached a new low of $12.23 earlier this month after hitting a high of $32 four years ago.

Nearly $20 million in cost-cutting measures, which included the layoffs, were announced earlier this week. It’s the first time in 23 reporting quarters the company failed to meet earnings expectations.

The company lost $35 million in the fourth quarter this year, nearly double last year’s $19 million. The company typically loses money in the fourth quarter, when tourism business falls off sharply before ski season.

The company’s performance was blamed on a recession riven economy.

Three highly visible position eliminations and one transfer were announced by the company. The positions of senior vice president of public affairs, Porter Wharton III, Keystone Chief Operating Officer John Rutter and Vail Resorts President Andy Daly were eliminated. Rutter was transferred to the Grand Teton Lodge.

Operation of the company’s five mountains has been split between Breckenridge’s Roger McCarthy and Vail’s Bill Jensen. McCarthy will operate Breckenridge and Keystone while Jensen will operate Vail, Beaver Creek and the newly-acquired Heavenly.

After spending nearly $1 billion acquiring property and upgrading it for the last five years, Vail Resorts said it will slow its acquisitions this year to concentrate on managing its existing assets.

News of the layoffs and cost-cutting apparently encouraged investors. Vail Resorts stock at market close was selling at $15.49, up 7.6 percent.

Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555 ext 450 or

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