Vail Resorts skier visits inch uphill |

Vail Resorts skier visits inch uphill

Dominique Taylor/Vail Daily file photoDespite a lack of major powder days until the spring, skiers and snowboarders hit the slopes of Vail Resorts mountains in bigger numbers this season

VAIL – In a year of below-average snow and economic uncertainty, Vail Resorts still saw more skier visits and spending at its resorts compared to last year, the company said Wednesday.

Statistics reported by the company include:

• Lift ticket revenue was up 4.6 percent compared to last year.

• Skier visits were up 2.3 percent.

• Ski school revenue was up 8.3 percent.

• Rental/retail revenue was up 8.1 percent.

• Dining revenue was up 2.5 percent.

Broomfield-based Vail Resorts operates Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Heavenly.

Rob Katz, CEO of the company, said Vail Resorts saw lots of lucrative “destination,” or out-of-state, visitors this year, especially during spring break and around Easter. The large upticks in ski school and retail/rental revenues are promising indicators for the recovery of spending by guests, Katz said in a press release.

Ski areas across the country are seeing the same trend, said Michael Berry, president of the National Ski Areas Association, which is based outside of Denver. While final numbers have not been calculated yet, Berry said he believes national ski visits will be up over last year.

Destination skiers came in large numbers to ski resorts this season and spent lots of money, Berry said.

“The difference between this past March and last year in March is night and day,” he said. “Everybody is cautious, but at the same time optimistic that we’ve turned the corner. People who were being very careful with their money last year, making sure they weren’t making any strategic errors, this year are more comfortable with their personal financial situations.”

Vail businesses were also positive about business during the ski season.

“We were very happy,” said Phil Long, owner and performer at the Red Lion bar and restaurant in Vail Village. “We had a really great year, and I thought that Vail Resorts did a great job of grooming the snow when there wasn’t as much as we have had in past years. I didn’t get hardly any skier complaints.”

The Red Lion’s season finished strong thanks the Easter holiday and the buzz created by the Spring Back to Vail events, Long said.

Cabal Yarne, owner of Arriesgado Clothing Co. in Lionshead, said January was a little slow, perhaps due to low snow, but the business was solid overall through the winter.

“It was a good winter for us,” he said, adding that Holy Week in late March and early April was a busy week.

Katz also said that the company has reinstated some of last year’s wage and benefit cuts for employees. Year-round employees got a 2 percent wage increase effective April 1. Seasonal employees will see the increase at the beginning of next season. Also, the company’s 401(k) program has been partially reinstated, Katz said.

“Last year we asked our employees to share in the burden of reducing our costs in light of the reduced revenues arising from the economic environment primarily through wage reductions and deferral of the 401(k) company match, in an effort to preserve our labor force and continue to drive the guest experience,” Katz said in the release. “With our business improving, we wanted to immediately begin to restore some of these reductions to our employees, with further potential restorations to be reviewed again in the upcoming fiscal year.”

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or

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