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Vail Resorts credits epic winter for record visitation this season

On the First Time lift at Park City Mountain, which is owned by Vail Resorts.
Parker Malatesta
On the Three Kings lift at Park City Mountain, which is owned by Vail Resorts.

During its earning report Thursday, leadership at Park City Mountain owner Vail Resorts said it had a strong ski season thanks to a growth in visitation and quality staffing levels.

Vail Resorts CEO Kirsten Lynch said the company drove visitation and revenue at its 37 North American resorts to record levels this past winter.

“The results in March and April improved as expected, with strong demand from local and destination guests, driving visitation and resort net revenue above prior year record levels,” Lynch said. “Favorable conditions enabled an extended season at resorts across Utah, Tahoe, and the Northeastern U.S., while some resorts in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions closed earlier than originally intended due to unseasonably warm weather and lack of terrain.”

Ancillary businesses for Vail were also up. Ski school revenue increased 20% this season, and dining revenue went up over 27%. The company attributed those increases to proper staffing and fewer COVID-19 restrictions.

Epic Pass sales for next season are up 6% compared to the last year. The company recently increased pass prices by 8%. A full Epic Pass now costs $929. And that isn’t deterring sales.

“One of the dynamics that I see that I think is really encouraging is strong loyalty,” Lynch told investors Thursday. “Our renewals among existing passholders are very strong and is the driver of the growth versus prior year. We’re seeing growth across all geographies – destination, international, local geographies. Also in the midwest, mid-Atlantic and northeast, where there were some challenges with conditions and terrain.”

Lynch said they expect pass sales to moderate into the summer.

Next season, Vail is launching a new rental equipment program called “My Epic Gear.” It’s piloting the program at four Colorado resorts next winter. It’s expected to launch at Park City Mountain and a number of Vail’s other ski areas ahead of the 2024/25 winter season.

Between available credit and cash on hand, the company has a balance sheet of roughly $1.5 billion. Lynch added that acquisition opportunities remain a priority for Vail.