Officials for Vail Resorts reported good numbers for the second quarter of their fiscal year. They got a boost from strong winter weather—maybe too strong a boost in Nevada and the Northwest. And they talked about a new wrinkle for their Epic Pass.
During a conference call last week, Vail CEO Rob Katz said they were pleased with the growth in visitation and spending compared to the same quarter last year.
He did note that before the holiday period, destination visits at their U.S. resorts were less than expected. They attributed that to guest concerns after two previous years of poor conditions.
But Katz said that during the key holiday weeks through January, the level of visitation, including at their Colorado and Utah resorts, met their expectations.
The company’s Chief Financial Officer Michael Barkin reported their resort net revenue was over $849 million, an increase of about 15.5% compared to the prior year’s quarter.
For the season to date, he reported that skier visits were up 7.9%, their ski total revenue increased 7.4%, dining revenue up 7.9%, and resort rental and retail revenue increased 7.3%.
Barkin also reported that “numerous intense weather events” affected their Tahoe resorts, stopping the mountains from being fully open or open at all on certain days. He said that Whistler Blackcomb, after three years of significant revenue increases, was also affected by weather, and a decline in international visits.
Katz also noted that their Epic Pass, introduced 11 years ago, has transformed the industry by offering unlimited skiing at all Vail’s resorts. He said the season pass program now makes up 47% of their fiscal 2018 lift revenue.
He said that now they are introducing the Epic Day Pass. He said guests who may not need the traditional season pass can customize their own, selecting the number of days for skiing or riding, from one day to seven. They can also choose whether to add holiday access.
He said the Epic Day Pass, with a starting price of $106 allows guests to buy in advance of the season, and to receive nearly a 50% discount off lift ticket window prices. He said the Day Pass is one of their strategies to get customers in the off-peak period.
In response to a question, Katz said the Day Pass continues a strategy they’ve had for years. He said isn’t related in particular to the Ikon Pass offered by Alterra, owner of Deer Valley, Solitude and other resorts.
The quarterly report had little specific references to the Park City Resort and the Canyons—except Katz said their capital plan for the year would include a new permanent Tombstone BBQ restaurant at Park City.