Broomfield, CO – Vail Resorts, Inc. on Friday reported a 13.2% slide in skier visits at the company’s North American destination ski resorts.
The data, which compares the beginning of the ski season through January 8, 2017 to the equivalent prior year period through January 10, 2016, encompasses results from: Vail Mountain, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado; Northstar, Kirkwood and Heavenly in California; and Park City Mountain Resort in Utah. In addition, the results include Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada, adjusted as if Whistler Blackcomb was owned in both periods using actual exchange rates in each applicable period. The metrics provided on Friday exclude results from Perisher in Australia and the company’s urban ski areas in the Midwest.
Despite the decline in visitation, the news wasn’t entirely negative. Although skier visits were down, season-to-date total lift ticket revenue, including an allocated portion of season pass revenue for each applicable period, was up 4.3% compared to the prior year season-to-date period. Season-to-date ski school revenue was also up 1.5%. However, dining revenue was down 6.4% compared to the prior year season-to-date period, and retail/rental revenue for North American resort store locations was down 2.0% compared to the prior year season-to-date period.
Commenting on the ski season to date, Rob Katz, Chief Executive Officer said, “The 2016/2017 ski season got off to a slow start across our U.S. resorts due to poor early season conditions that reduced visitation, particularly among our local guests. We had much more normal conditions at our U.S. resorts in the holiday period between December 19, 2016 and January 8, 2017 during which time we saw strong visitation from our destination guests and growth in lift revenue and in each of our ancillary revenue lines, with ski school performing particularly well. Results at Whistler Blackcomb have also been strong, with increases in visitation and revenue at the resort compared to the prior record year.”
Katz remained undeterred about the prospect for a strong season. He continued, “Although our season-to-date metrics were impacted by the weak start to the year, we remain confident in our outlook for fiscal year 2017. We had very strong season pass sales growth leading up to the ski season and our much improved results through the holiday period were in line with our expectations. Additionally, recent snow storms in January have created outstanding conditions for guests to enjoy across all of our Western resorts. As a result, we expect to achieve full year performance within the Resort Reported EBITDA guidance range we issued on December 9, 2016, assuming normal conditions at our resorts through the remainder of the season and a continuation of the current economic environment.”