Vail Resorts, Inc. reported season-to-date total skier visits were down 1.7 percent compared to the prior year season-to-date period and down 18.3 percent compared to the fiscal year 2020 season-to-date period.
- Season-to-date total lift ticket revenue, including an allocated portion of season pass revenue for each applicable period, was up 25.9 percent compared to the prior year season-to-date period and down 4.6 percent compared to the fiscal year 2020 season-to-date period. As a result of delayed openings at certain resorts, some pass product revenue will be recognized in the third quarter of fiscal year 2022 that would have otherwise been recognized in the second quarter of fiscal year 2022. Excluding this impact, season-to-date lift ticket revenue was down 0.6 percent compared to the fiscal year 2020 season-to-date period.
- Season-to-date ski school revenue was up 59.1 percent and dining revenue was up 64.7 percent compared to the prior year season-to-date period. Relative to the comparable period in fiscal year 2020, ski school revenue and dining revenue were down 25.2 percent and down 45.1 percent, respectively.
- Retail/rental revenue for North American resort and ski area store locations was up 36.3 percent compared to the prior year season-to-date period, and down 19.5 percent versus the comparable season-to-date period in fiscal year 2020.
Commenting on the ski season to date, Kirsten Lynch, CEO, Vail Resorts said, “As expected, season-to-date 2021/22 North American ski season results are significantly outperforming results from the prior year, due to the greater impact of COVID-19 and related limitations and restrictions on results from the 2020/21 season. Relative to the 2019/20 North American ski season, the 2021/22 North American ski season got off to a slow start with challenging early season conditions that were worse than our expectations, resulting in delayed openings and limited open terrain that persisted into the first week of the holidays ending December 26, 2021. Relative to the comparable periods in both fiscal year 2021 and fiscal year 2020, results across our destination resorts improved following Christmas as conditions improved between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The storms during the holiday period created disruptions on certain key peak days that negatively impacted our results, particularly at our Tahoe resorts, which were each fully closed between one and three days during the peak holiday period. Whistler Blackcomb has experienced favorable conditions to date but, as expected, continues to be disproportionately negatively impacted by COVID-19 related travel restrictions on international visitors. Conditions at our Eastern U.S. ski areas were challenged and inconsistent through the holiday period with limited natural snow and variable temperatures that reduced our snowmaking activity. Although overall visitation was negatively impacted by the poor conditions, particularly among our local guests, our season pass sales results significantly mitigated the impact of the challenging start to the season on lift revenue and highlighted the stability created by our advance commitment strategy.
“In addition to the impacts associated with the challenging conditions, we believe that the significant acceleration of COVID-19 cases associated with the Omicron variant has negatively impacted our results along with the broader travel sector as we expect certain guests reconsidered travel plans and were impacted by related flight cancellations. The impact of COVID-19 cases amongst our employees and the related employee exclusions from work resulted in further challenges in an already difficult staffing environment. Relative to the comparable season-to-date period in fiscal year 2020, our ancillary lines of business have experienced revenue declines in excess of the declines in visitation, particularly in food and beverage, which has experienced an outsized impact related to numerous operational restrictions. Given the challenging staffing environment, exacerbated by COVID-19 related work exclusions, we implemented both a holiday and end of season bonus for our employees, the cost of which we estimate at $20 million, and which we believe will positively impact staffing through the rest of the season in conjunction with expected declines in COVID-19 work exclusions.”
Lynch continued, “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. As a result, we continue to expect that Resort Reported EBITDA for fiscal year 2022 will be within the guidance range issued on December 9, 2021, including the estimated $20 million impact from the bonus programs and an estimated $10 million in Resort Reported EBITDA from the operations of Seven Springs for the period from the transaction closing on December 31, 2021 through the end of the fiscal year, neither of which were anticipated in our original guidance. The company’s guidance excludes any estimates for integration expenses associated with the Seven Springs acquisition. The guidance assumes normal conditions and operations across our resorts for the remainder of the ski season, no incremental travel or operating restrictions associated with COVID-19 that could negatively impact our results and the same foreign currency rates as when the guidance was originally issued.”
Basis of Presentation
The reported ski season metrics include growth for season pass revenue is based on estimated fiscal 2022 North American season pass revenue compared to both fiscal 2021 and fiscal 2020 North American season pass revenue. As discussed above, several of its resorts experienced delayed openings associated with challenging early season conditions, which will result in pass product revenue being recognized in the third quarter of fiscal 2022 that would have otherwise been recognized in the second quarter of fiscal year 2022.
Excluding the impact of the delayed openings on the timing of season pass revenue recognition, its season-to-date total lift revenue would have been up 25.4 percent compared to the prior year season-to-date period and would have been down 0.6 percent compared to the fiscal year 2020 season-to-date period. Fiscal year 2021 season pass revenue does not include the pass product revenue recognized in the first quarter of fiscal year 2021 as a result of unutilized pass holder credits, and fiscal year 2020 season pass revenue was adjusted to exclude the impact of the deferral of pass product revenue as a result of pass holder credits offered to 2019/2020 North American pass holders. This approach results in comparisons of season pass revenue exclusive of the impact of discounts provided to its 2019/2020 pass holders. The metrics include all North American destination mountain resorts and regional ski areas excluding the Seven Springs acquisition and are adjusted to eliminate the impact of foreign currency by applying current period exchange rates to the prior periods for Whistler Blackcomb’s results.
Vail Resorts’ subsidiaries currently operate 40 mountain resorts and regional ski areas, including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, and Crested Butte in Colorado; Park City in Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada; Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada; Perisher, Falls Creek and Hotham in Australia; Stowe, Mount Snow, Okemo in Vermont; Hunter Mountain in New York; Mount Sunapee, Attitash, Wildcat and Crotched in New Hampshire; Stevens Pass in Washington; Seven Springs, Hidden Valley, Laurel Mountain, Liberty, Roundtop, Whitetail, Jack Frost and Big Boulder in Pennsylvania; Alpine Valley, Boston Mills, Brandywine and Mad River in Ohio; Hidden Valley and Snow Creek in Missouri; Wilmot in Wisconsin; Afton Alps in Minnesota; Mt. Brighton in Michigan; and Paoli Peaks in Indiana.
Photo courtesy Vail Resorts