Vail Resorts Reports Downbeat Start to Snow Season
One of the snow industry’s largest customer, Vail Resorts, reported a downbeat start to the North American season due to lack of snow and the rise of the Omicron Covid variant.
Vail Resorts operates a wide range of well-known resorts and regional ski areas including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Whistler Blackcomb, and Stowe.
Skier visits through Jan. 2 declined 1.7% vs. last season and were down 18.3% vs. 2019/2020.
While ski school, dining and retail/rental revenue rebounded from last season when there were so many Covid restrictions, those lines of businesses were still down vs. 2019/2020, including a 19.5% drop in retail/rental revenue.
In addition to lack of snow in some areas, the rise of Omicron led to customers pulling back on travel plans. The company has also faced operational challenges with staff out sick, which further exacerbated ongoing hiring obstacles. To try to keep employees in place, Vail Resorts offered $20 million worth of holiday and end-of-season bonuses.
While visitation numbers were disappointing, Vail said strong season pass sales helped to offset those declines.
“While the challenging season-to-date conditions and COVID-19 related dynamics put downward pressure on overall results, we anticipate that the stability created by our season pass business, the relative strength of our destination visitation over the holidays, and recently improved conditions and results will lead to improving results for the remainder of the season,” CEO Kirsten Lynch said in a statement.
Despite the slow start, the company expects to hit its full year EBITDA target range, including a boost from the Seven Springs acquisition.