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Vail Resorts’ earnings decline; COVID blamed

BROOMFIELD, Colorado. — Snow-loving vacationers still mostly showed up at Vail properties this winter, but pandemic restrictions blocked their ability to spend money. In reporting results for its second quarter of fiscal 2021 and third-quarter outlook last week, Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz spelled out COVID’s inescapable effect on the season.

Net income of $147.8 million across all the company’s holdings represented a nearly 30% drop from the same quarter a year ago.

Visitor numbers weren’t terrible, though international visitors were way down from the typical year. Total visits across North America for the quarter were 5% lower than the previous year’s quarter. Most significantly, revenue from lodging dropped by nearly half from the previous year, a huge blow. Dining took a massive hit too, as did ski school attendance and rental and retail businesses.

The weather didn’t help either with dismal early-season conditions – which include a severe drought across most of Utah – putting a damper on skiing and riding.

Programs such as the Epic Pass, though not universally popular in mountain towns, were a bright spot for the company, with pass-holding visitors increasing over the previous year.

Though business was understandably down, the company still has liquid assets that include $1.4 billion in cash. In a call with investors, Katz attributed the company’s financial position to both guest loyalty and a “thoughtful, disciplined approach to expenses.”

“We maintained disciplined cost controls throughout the quarter as we operated the business at reduced capacity,” Katz said in a statement.

Vail’s plans for the coming year include some large-scale improvement projects: a 250-acre terrain expansion at McCoy Park in Beaver Creek, a new quad lift at Breckenridge, and chairlift replacements and expansions at Crested Butte and Keystone.

Epic passes for the 2021-2022 season go on sale on March 23rd. Visit epic PASS for information.

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