Vail Resorts revenues up for fiscal year
CEO Rob Katz touts snowmaking improvements at Vail, geographic diversification
VAIL — In an earnings call Thursday, Vail Resorts reported a profit of $301.2 million for the fiscal year, with increased revenues and visitation across its growing collection of resorts.
Total mountain net revenue increased 13.5%, to about $2 billion, for the year, which ended July 31.
Breaking that down further, compared to the previous year:
- Lift revenue was up 17.4%.
- Ski school revenue was up 13.2%.
- Dining revenue was up 12.7%.
- Retail/rental revenue was up 8%.
Lodging revenue was up 10.9% compared to the previous year.
Skier visits were up 21.5%, driven by the acquisition of new resorts, as well as good snow conditions across the U.S.
“Our results throughout fiscal 2019 highlight the growth and stability resulting from our season pass, the benefit of our geographic diversification, the investments we make in our resorts and the success of our sophisticated, data-driven marketing efforts,” said Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz.
Looking ahead, season pass sales for the upcoming 2019-20 season were up about 15% in sales dollars compared to the same period in the prior year.
Katz said the company is seeing “strong results in our destination markets” while local markets show “solid growth.” But local sales in Colorado are “more modest” compared to Northern California and Utah, he added.
Katz touted a big investment in the form of Vail’s snowmaking upgrades, which have been occurring this summer. After the upgrades, the company plans to begin early-season snowmaking in the Mid-Vail area, opening Chair 4 first, followed by Chair 2 and Chair 8.
Snowmaking has traditionally begun on the Born Free run, with Chair 8 out of Lionshead opening first.
“Vail historically has had less snowmaking coverage than many of our resorts,” Katz said. “The location of our coverage at the base of the mountain in Lionshead, I’m not sure that’s the most efficient or impactful place to start our season.”
The project will give Vail 192 acres of new and improved snowmaking for the upcoming season. Prior to this project, Vail had the ability to make snow on about 500 acres. After the multi-year project is done, that amount will increase by 262 acres.
“We feel like that is going to be a much better product because of the higher elevation,” Katz said. “We’ll be able to get it open earlier.”
Katz also noted that Beaver Creek and Keystone are getting some snowmaking upgrades. Vail Resorts hopes that Keystone will be among the first resorts to open for the year in the U.S., he said.
Vail Resorts closed the deal Tuesday to acquire Peak Resorts, which included 17 ski areas across the Northeast and Midwest, for about $265 million. The resorts are near the urban areas of New York; Boston; Washington; Baltimore; Philadelphia; Cleveland; Columbus, Ohio; St. Louis; Kansas City, Missouri; and Louisville, Kentucky.
Michael Barkin, the company’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, said the company is very optimistic about the impact the acquisition will have on the company.
“It will give some of the major population centers access to skiing on the same pass where they can access destination resorts within our network,” he said.
The company will also gain the ability to mine data from the new customers, which it can then use to market relevant products to them, Barkin said.
Vail Resorts now operates 37 ski areas, including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Crested Butte in Colorado; Park City in Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada; Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada; Perisher, Falls Creek and Hotham in Australia; Stowe, Mount Snow, Okemo in Vermont; Hunter Mountain in New York; Mount Sunapee, Attitash, Wildcat and Crotched in New Hampshire; Stevens Pass in Washington; Liberty, Roundtop, Whitetail, Jack Frost and Big Boulder in Pennsylvania; Alpine Valley, Boston Mills, Brandywine and Mad River in Ohio; Hidden Valley and Snow Creek in Missouri; Wilmot in Wisconsin; Afton Alps in Minnesota; Mt. Brighton in Michigan; and Paoli Peaks in Indiana.
Vail Resorts, trading as MTN on the New York Stock Exchange, closed Thursday at $230.27 per share. The earnings call occurred after the markets closed.
Gore Creek since 2013 has been listed on the state’s list of “impaired waterways.” Several years of work are paying off, but getting off the list has become more difficult.