Vail saw record early-season crowds Saturday |

Vail saw record early-season crowds Saturday

Jack Affleck, Beaver Creek ResortProfessional skier Chris Anthony finds deep powder on Beaver Creek's Goshawk run this morning. Goshawk is one of several expert trails set to open Sunday in Beaver Creek.

VAIL, COLORADO ” Vail Resorts reported its customary loss for its first quarter, which covers the three slow months before the ski season starts.

The Broomfield company, which runs Vail and Beaver Creek mountains, posted a loss of $24.6 million for August, September and October in its earnings report Monday.

But pass sales and hotel reservations are shaping up well for the ski season, and Vail Mountain had a record early-season number of skiers Saturday, Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz said.

Katz also touted the real-estate revenue that’s expected over the next year from the Arrabelle at Vail Square, the complex that’s set to open in the next few weeks in Lionshead.

“The project, including its hotel, commercial and real estate components, will redefine the look and feel of one of the major portals onto Vail Mountain,” he said.

However, the town of Vail says Vail Resorts must have a plan for employee housing before the Arrabelle can open. There’s a meeting at 2 p.m.Tuesday on that subject at Vail Town Hall.

Katz said Vail Mountain had a record number of early-season skiers on Saturday, but wouldn’t say how many people were skiing. It was the largest number of “skier days” on Vail Mountain on that date or earlier in any year, said spokeswoman Kelly Ladyga, who did say Vail did not exceed its ” limit of 19,900 skiers on the mountain at one time.

China Bowl and Blue Sky Basin opened Saturday after Vail reported 11 inches of snow on Friday. The public parking structures were full, and there were another 675 cars on the frontage road, stretching from the Cascade to the Vail Golf Club driving range, town of Vail officials said.

The good snow coincided with Snow Daze festival, which included the Roots and Ludacris on Saturday night at Ford Park.

Katz said early-season-pass sales numbers are looking good. Colorado pass sales are up 10.4 percent in terms of sales dollars, he said. In terms of the number of passes sold, sales are up 0.6 percent for Colorado resorts.

Reservations at Vail Resorts’ properties and through its central reservations service are up 2.5 percent in terms of sales dollars, though they are down 6.6 percent in terms of room nights.

Katz cautioned that a nationwide economic slowdown is a concern.

“Clearly, the overall U.S. economic environment may add challenges to the year ahead,” he said.

Katz also said Vail Resorts has spent $2.3 million in legal fees trying to buy Utah’s Canyons ski resort. Vail Resorts has filed a lawsuit in attempt to buy the resort.

The 3,700-acre ski area is the biggest in Utah, and Vail Resorts has said it thinks it can make billions there in real estate. The resort was sold to a Canadian company, but Vail Resorts has challenged that sale.

The quarterly results included $11.9 million that the company got out of the settlement of a contract dispute over Cheeca Lodge in Florida.

Vail Resorts, which runs Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Heavenly, closed Monday at $51.10, down $2.24, on the New York Stock Exchange.

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

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