Is Vail group financially secure?

Telezacski

A Local
Ski Pass
Mar 19, 2010
8,307
16,660
563
if Vail think this year was tough wait till next year! After a year of reports of poor staff conditions I can’t imagine that will encourage a lot of people, albeit if they focus on the gap year crowd they may be okay.

The biggest issue I see is all the experienced trades, ski patrol and instructors looking elsewhere. Maybe some of the instructors can confirm but I imagine classes would be down.

If your in a two hour lesson you don’t want to be stuck in queues, yes they get a head start but still. Pissed of customers don’t repeat business.

Edit I have read of a few programs cancelled and instructors put on lifts.
 
Last edited:
Remove ads with a
Ski Pass

MarzNC

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 8, 2017
3,925
6,629
363
Raleigh, NC, USA
over50skifitness.blogspot.com
Very interesting . . . the interim GM for Stevens is sounding very different from the typical VR COO/GM when there are problems. He's posting blog entries that actually have operational content and humor.

Screen Shot 2022-01-21 at 3.39.50 PM.png
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: sly_karma and emkae

MarzNC

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 8, 2017
3,925
6,629
363
Raleigh, NC, USA
over50skifitness.blogspot.com
The interim GM at Stevens has put money behind the effort to rebuild some trust among pass holders. The level of effort to do damage control is pretty high.

January 25, 2022 (USA)
"
Hello, Everyone –

I want to focus today’s post on the email that I sent to pass holders within the Stevens Pass community last night. We take your feedback seriously, and we’re listening to you, and I certainly understand that adding terrain is the priority. While my focus remains on operations, our company began working on a Stevens Pass guest loyalty offer for the 2022/23 season in over the holidays, as the challenges in guest experience became increasingly apparent. I want to summarize what the plan is and answer some questions that I have seen pop up.

To recognize the very unique challenges at Stevens Pass, we are offering two options:

1) Eligible pass holders who ONLY want to ski and ride at Stevens Pass can get a discount on those products for next season (Stevens Pass Premium Pass and the Stevens Pass Select Pass), or;

2) Eligible pass holders who want to access more resorts, with one of our multi-resort passes (like the Epic Pass, Epic Local, Epic 4-7 Day, etc.), can get a $150 spend credit to use in resort at Stevens Pass next season for things like lift tickets, ski and ride school, restaurants, and rentals/demos.

Here are some questions I’ve received:

  • Who is eligible? Any 21/22 pass holder whose pass provides access to Stevens Pass.
  • Why not just provide a pass discount for next season on all passes? Passes like the Epic Pass and Epic Local Pass provide access to dozens of resorts that did not face the challenges we faced here at Stevens Pass. Because of that, we are not discounting access to those resorts through these products for next season. However, we recognize many of you in the Stevens Pass community have these products, which is why we are providing you the same amount, just in the form of a spend credit at Stevens Pass for next season.
  • Why not provide refunds? Our passes are non-refundable because they are so highly discounted and most offer access to dozens of resorts all season long. We never know what terrain or conditions look like ahead of the season at any resort – which is why we provide such a great deal if you buy in advance. That said, this season was unique at Stevens Pass – which is why we are providing these offers.
  • How do I redeem these offers? More details will be communicated in the coming weeks – before our passes for next season go back on sale in March.
I remain incredibly grateful to this special community – while I know this doesn’t solve everything, it is an important step in recognizing your loyalty. I’m excited for what’s to come – including opening the backside this weekend and continuing to add to our midweek and night operations – and I hope you continue to support us as we make significant strides forward at Stevens Pass.

Looking forward to share more tomorrow on the latest up here on the mountain.

-Tom "
 

MarzNC

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 8, 2017
3,925
6,629
363
Raleigh, NC, USA
over50skifitness.blogspot.com
The more important article from a business standpoint was in The NY Times. It wasn't all about Epic locations, but issues at assorted VR resorts were highlighted. Aspen, Killington, Jackson Hole, and Boyne Resorts were mentioned too.

January 26, 2022 (USA)
 

MarzNC

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 8, 2017
3,925
6,629
363
Raleigh, NC, USA
over50skifitness.blogspot.com
Rob Katz did a long interview with Stuart Winchester recently. Stuart started out his online blog and podcasts with a focus on the northeast. He's expanded to other regions in the USA in the past year.

Stuart researches quite a bit before an interview. He's done interviews with many small independent ski areas as well as with heavy hitters like the CEO of Boyne Resorts. It's pretty obvious when Katz is not comfortable addressing operational issues. Even though Katz grew up skiing in the northeast, I doubt he's that aware of the details for the ski resorts that were acquired relatively recent that were part of a "bundle" acquisition (Triple Peaks, Peak Resorts).

January 25, 2022 (USA)
 

MarzNC

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 8, 2017
3,925
6,629
363
Raleigh, NC, USA
over50skifitness.blogspot.com
May not seem like a significant change but the new GM of Attitash in New Hampshire (couple hours from Boston) has personal and professional history in New England. Stands a better chance of successfully completing the transition started by Peak Resorts not that long before VR took over Peak.


The former GM of Attitash quit suddenly mid-season. Has recently become the GM of Mt. Rose, near Reno, NV. Mt. Rose is about as independent as it gets in terms of vibe.
 
Remove ads with a
Ski Pass

Chookfooter

Cranky Curmudgeon
Ski Pass
May 11, 2020
2,433
4,896
363

To be fair to Vail, these queues look worse than they actually are because Americans are much more civilisedthan us in lift lines and spread out a lot. You can see in the pictures that the ski tips are about 500mm behind the tails of the skier in front, in Oz those tips would be 500 mm behind the tips of the skier in front.
 

skichic

Old n' Crusty
Ski Pass
May 26, 2003
21,106
29,253
1,063
To be fair to Vail, these queues look worse than they actually are because Americans are much more civilisedthan us in lift lines and spread out a lot. You can see in the pictures that the ski tips are about 500mm behind the tails of the skier in front, in Oz those tips would be 500 mm on the tails of the skier in front.
FIFY
 

oldgeezer

One of Us
Ski Pass
Aug 18, 2016
1,978
2,142
363
Grandpa oh and computer programmer too.
I keep in touch with a guy I met on Sun Peaks and is or was a Stevens Pass regular. Not happy with Vail. But it isn't just the current situation as before Vail bought the operations he loved the season pass for geriatrics ( 70 and above) available for a few hundred dollars which meant a few hours on the slopes was still an economic proposition. Vail dropped that option and his season pass doubled in price as he had to go for the Epic 65 and above product. Incidentally Perisher Valley also seems to have had geriatrics season pass pre Vail for a few hundred and its web site now only displays the Epic 65+ product but I understand come April they may still offer the local over-the-hill price on the side, which having waited 40 years I now qualify which is a motive to lose COVID kilos and get fit.
 

Telezacski

A Local
Ski Pass
Mar 19, 2010
8,307
16,660
563
Apparently Rob Katz gave an interview talking about ski passes and how they protect staff and resort from bad seasons.

Blister gave their views on the interview which I found interesting. Worth listening to.

What Katz says is true, unfortunately the actions of Vail somewhat contradict the statements made.
 

MarzNC

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 8, 2017
3,925
6,629
363
Raleigh, NC, USA
over50skifitness.blogspot.com
Apparently Rob Katz gave an interview talking about ski passes and how they protect staff and resort from bad seasons.

Blister gave their views on the interview which I found interesting. Worth listening to.

What Katz says is true, unfortunately the actions of Vail somewhat contradict the statements made.
How the Epic pass changed the industry in 2008 is one thing. How operations are going for VR resorts starting in 2019 after acquisitions made of multiple locations in regions that have significantly different ski cultures (midwest, New England, Pacific Northwest) is another. Then add a pandemic that led to staffing shortages across the board for all N. American resorts for two seasons plus pent up demand. The last straw was low snow conditions in multiple regions for the 2021-22 season when N. Americans were traveling in significant numbers to ski resorts on Epic. Pretty much a perfect storm for a major mess.

Katz is not that close to the operational issues. Unlike some VR general managers who worked in ski patrol or ski schools or other department doing stuff directly with customers, Katz was always focused on the financial aspects of running a public company. He had to figure out a way to save a company in trouble in 2006. He didn't seek the job of CEO. He and his wife moved their young family to Colorado soon after 9/11 for reasons that weren't related to the fact that Vail Resorts had it's headquarters there.
 

Telezacski

A Local
Ski Pass
Mar 19, 2010
8,307
16,660
563
How the Epic pass changed the industry in 2008 is one thing. How operations are going for VR resorts starting in 2019 after acquisitions made of multiple locations in regions that have significantly different ski cultures (midwest, New England, Pacific Northwest) is another. Then add a pandemic that led to staffing shortages across the board for all N. American resorts for two seasons plus pent up demand. The last straw was low snow conditions in multiple regions for the 2021-22 season when N. Americans were traveling in significant numbers to ski resorts on Epic. Pretty much a perfect storm for a major mess.

Katz is not that close to the operational issues. Unlike some VR general managers who worked in ski patrol or ski schools or other department doing stuff directly with customers, Katz was always focused on the financial aspects of running a public company. He had to figure out a way to save a company in trouble in 2006. He didn't seek the job of CEO. He and his wife moved their young family to Colorado soon after 9/11 for reasons that weren't related to the fact that Vail Resorts had it's headquarters there.

I really like your opening line as it sums up my thinking as well. My take on passes are they have been used in many industries for the exact purpose Katz stated, to smooth cash flow and remove uncertainties for operators. In skiing they of course offered the side benefit of encouraging travel as well within company resorts.

But the obvious question then, is why sell so many passes this year? Surely the pointy end would see the potential for operational issues and growing staffing concerns. Why did they offer discounted tickets for sale?

There has to be a reason for the cash grab
 
  • Like
Reactions: dawooduck

MarzNC

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 8, 2017
3,925
6,629
363
Raleigh, NC, USA
over50skifitness.blogspot.com
But the obvious question then, is why sell so many passes this year? Surely the pointy end would see the potential for operational issues and growing staffing concerns. Why did they offer discounted tickets for sale?

There has to be a reason for the cash grab
Have you added up the capital outlay planning for the next few years for new lifts across VR resorts? That's a lot of dollars.

Apparently a lot of the growth in Epic pass numbers was for the Epic Day Pass. Those are only good for 1-7 days, with most people getting 2-4 days. But the impact of the Epic Day Pass probably varies by region. Plus someone who buys 2-5 days probably actually uses all of the days. Unlike when someone buys an Epic pass because they hope to take two ski vacations but than only end up taking one. Or just skiing enough days to breakeven.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Telezacski

MarzNC

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 8, 2017
3,925
6,629
363
Raleigh, NC, USA
over50skifitness.blogspot.com
Tangentially related . . . Aspen Ski Corp. is investing US$12 million in salary increases. Hourly rate is going to $20/hour effectively essentially immediately. Skico has also invested US$18 million in building employee housing. That's the advantage of being a private company with owners who understand the shifts happening in the industry. Pretty hard to VR to get the average customer to understand why staffing shortages are becoming common now that the pandemic restrictions are not headline news every day.

Feb. 10, 2022 (USA)
 

Telezacski

A Local
Ski Pass
Mar 19, 2010
8,307
16,660
563
Have you added up the capital outlay planning for the next few years for new lifts across VR resorts? That's a lot of dollars.

Apparently a lot of the growth in Epic pass numbers was for the Epic Day Pass. Those are only good for 1-7 days, with most people getting 2-4 days. But the impact of the Epic Day Pass probably varies by region. Plus someone who buys 2-5 days probably actually uses all of the days. Unlike when someone buys an Epic pass because they hope to take two ski vacations but than only end up taking one. Or just skiing enough days to breakeven.

I acknowledge the capital spend plus the purchase of 3 new resorts, but I thought I read they had cash available $1bn
 
  • Like
Reactions: Chaeron
Remove ads with a
Ski Pass

Telezacski

A Local
Ski Pass
Mar 19, 2010
8,307
16,660
563
Tangentially related . . . Aspen Ski Corp. is investing US$12 million in salary increases. Hourly rate is going to $20/hour effectively essentially immediately. Skico has also invested US$18 million in building employee housing. That's the advantage of being a private company with owners who understand the shifts happening in the industry. Pretty hard to VR to get the average customer to understand why staffing shortages are becoming common now that the pandemic restrictions are not headline news every day.

Feb. 10, 2022 (USA)

So the base salary for aspen is above the ski patrol salary at park…..

Watching the socials, Tamarak resort offered epic pass holders two free days skiing and were inundated
 
  • Like
Reactions: MarzNC

SMSkier

One of Us
Ski Pass
Oct 4, 2016
4,539
40,360
363

Telezacski

A Local
Ski Pass
Mar 19, 2010
8,307
16,660
563
Quite applicable here in Australia with similar wage stagnation, housing in most areas and the new work from home lifestyle demographic.

I totally agree but I’d like to remove the covid / WFH sentiment from the equation. Listening to Vail they are pinning there issues on this which I see as an easy scape goat.

I understand this isn't your intention.

I believe we would always have reached this point where stagnant wage growth and rising costs would have seen pressure. Covid etc has just expedited the situation.

I remember four five years ago talking to clients who held property in Jindy and the equation of holiday let v seasonal v annual lease was very even. Holiday let got more money but the costs were higher as was replacement costs (cups etc), season rent was higher and guaranteed 20 weeks but was offset by uncertainty for the rest of the year.

Now I see two beds in Jindy selling and asking the same rents as our Thredbo unit got 3 years ago. Okay out place is older but it’s 3 bed 300m from lifts.

It’s just not sustainable there will be no ski fields without staff. The prices for skiing have to increase to offset wage growth.

IMO this is why Vail stock has taken a 25% hit, they have to pay more which means they will either take a profit hit or charge more
 

dawooduck

relaxed and comfortable
Ski Pass
Oct 26, 2002
78,009
77,825
1,525
Mountains
The work from home demographic is a new impost on scarce seasonal housing and part of the upward pressure on rents.

"Coming to ride, work from home, looking for accommodation" is not something we heard 2yrs ago

Bit player but in the mix.
 

robbo mcs

A Local
Ski Pass
Sep 1, 2008
5,906
28,174
563
Kenthurst / Jindabyne
The work from home demographic is a new impost on scarce seasonal housing and part of the upward pressure on rents.

"Coming to ride, work from home, looking for accommodation" is not something we heard 2yrs ago

Bit player but in the mix.
I think it is has gradually been coming for a while, but covid has accelerated it.

The NBN rollout into regional areas was a big thing, not so much for Jindy, but other smaller regional towns, even the not so touristy ones. That made it a possibility for a lot of people, where it was just not an option before.

Also, more flexible work arrangements have been coming for a while.
 

robbo mcs

A Local
Ski Pass
Sep 1, 2008
5,906
28,174
563
Kenthurst / Jindabyne
I have a few thoughts about Vails current situation in the US, the 20% reduction in prices and massive overcrowding that has resulted.

Part of the issue is the US markets over emphasis on new customers, which has been a thing for the last decade. This is largely driven by IT type companies. Many of them are not actually profitable, so the analysts can’t look at them with the standard metrics. They look at revenue growth, and that is important. However, customer growth, signing up new customers has been the big thing. Thats because if you are not profitable now, the only way out is to grow enormously, which means increasing your customers 10x or 100x. That applies to start ups, but also to “tech” giants that have never made a profit, or are barely profitable, eg Uber, netflix, spotify etc

So the market views Vail with this lens to some degree. They have almost reached the limit of possible physical growth. So the market wants to see evidence of how they are going to continue to grow, and the metric they judge them on is new customer growth.

Vail have certainly achieved that with the discounted epic pass, but as we can now see, it really was a short sighted move.
 

Schnaxxy Schnaxxlburger

but a dream within a dream
Ski Pass
Jun 23, 2001
49,678
39,320
1,563
macdonaldtown
a bit of unhappiness

 

SnowRabbit

One of Us
Feb 13, 2017
501
704
263
Sydney
I keep in touch with a guy I met on Sun Peaks and is or was a Stevens Pass regular. Not happy with Vail. But it isn't just the current situation as before Vail bought the operations he loved the season pass for geriatrics ( 70 and above) available for a few hundred dollars which meant a few hours on the slopes was still an economic proposition. Vail dropped that option and his season pass doubled in price as he had to go for the Epic 65 and above product. Incidentally Perisher Valley also seems to have had geriatrics season pass pre Vail for a few hundred and its web site now only displays the Epic 65+ product but I understand come April they may still offer the local over-the-hill price on the side, which having waited 40 years I now qualify which is a motive to lose COVID kilos and get fit.
I now qualify this year for the 70s ski pass and am worried about what they might do. The year I qualified for the over 65 EPIC the price increased substantially over the previous year.
If they do can the 70s pass I hope they give us enough warning so that we can get EPIC pass at its earliest price.
 

Nidecker

A Local
Ski Pass
Aug 5, 2009
7,028
15,317
563
Alpine the dark side of snowboarding
The work from home demographic is a new impost on scarce seasonal housing and part of the upward pressure on rents.

"Coming to ride, work from home, looking for accommodation" is not something we heard 2yrs ago

Bit player but in the mix.

Met a number of people (finance industries mostly) who had moved (purchased in) Park City when we were there. Lovin life and not going back to an office anytime soon from the conversations.
 

dawooduck

relaxed and comfortable
Ski Pass
Oct 26, 2002
78,009
77,825
1,525
Mountains
Met a number of people (finance industries mostly) who had moved (purchased in) Park City when we were there. Lovin life and not going back to an office anytime soon from the conversations.

That's the permanent move demographic buying, now there is a growing "coming to ride, work from home" non ski industry demographic pressure on the rental market.
 

DPS Driver

A Local
Jul 18, 2014
5,926
7,410
563
Met a number of people (finance industries mostly) who had moved (purchased in) Park City when we were there. Lovin life and not going back to an office anytime soon from the conversations.
Our US office is in Park City. Not a bad location for an office.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Chaeron

Nidecker

A Local
Ski Pass
Aug 5, 2009
7,028
15,317
563
Alpine the dark side of snowboarding
Our US office is in Park City. Not a bad location for an office.

Yeah nice place, kinda cool being able to ski right into town, and then catch ( albeit slow ) a chairlift right back out of there.

Re: Vail, I think one of their problems is that each ski resort has such individual requirements when it comes to the management of.

Dare I say it, anyone could manage a ski resort in a good snow year, but the experience/wisdom required to manage them in poor conditions requires more than a corporate hospitality manager. Choosing where and when to make snow/groom is a bit of a black art.

Thredbo suffered this for years, under Village Roadshow, correction Event Cinemas / Rydges F&B managers, I wonder now if the skier experience is beginning to improve now with an actual skier in the mix.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Chaeron

Telezacski

A Local
Ski Pass
Mar 19, 2010
8,307
16,660
563
Yeah nice place, kinda cool being able to ski right into town, and then catch ( albeit slow ) a chairlift right back out of there.

Re: Vail, I think one of their problems is that each ski resort has such individual requirements when it comes to the management of.

Dare I say it, anyone could manage a ski resort in a good snow year, but the experience/wisdom required to manage them in poor conditions requires more than a corporate hospitality manager. Choosing where and when to make snow/groom is a bit of a black art.

Thredbo suffered this for years, under Village Roadshow, I wonder now if the skier experience is beginning to improve now with an actual skier in the mix.
I think there is an element to this, I believe it was @CarveMan (maybe) who referred to Kraft as a venture capitalist and has run the business this way, purely on numbers.

Yes they have got away with it until now where different dynamics require a change to the model but the new management team have been to slow to change.

Interestingly I’m off to Seattle for Christmas to see my sister, she asked friends what we should see and do; she told them we are off to Rosslands after Seattle and the main theme of the discussion has been how to avoid stevens pass.
 

kiter

One of Us
Ski Pass
Sep 21, 2002
1,204
1,044
363
Newcastle
Yeah nice place, kinda cool being able to ski right into town, and then catch ( albeit slow ) a chairlift right back out of there.

Re: Vail, I think one of their problems is that each ski resort has such individual requirements when it comes to the management of.

Dare I say it, anyone could manage a ski resort in a good snow year, but the experience/wisdom required to manage them in poor conditions requires more than a corporate hospitality manager. Choosing where and when to make snow/groom is a bit of a black art.

Thredbo suffered this for years, under Village Roadshow, I wonder now if the skier experience is beginning to improve now with an actual skier in the mix.
Village roadshow ? Huh ? When ?
 

Telezacski

A Local
Ski Pass
Mar 19, 2010
8,307
16,660
563
I should correct that, it was Event Greater Union Cinemas / Rydges, same point though, management focused on F&B and not the mountain experience.
Still owned by the same group, but your point stands, the previous board looked at Thredbo as a cash machine and investment wouldn’t provide a return (possibly due to environment?).

The new board appears to have a very different take.

They don’t do everything right but they appear to have made some changes which are evident that they listened to some (not all) feedback. They got slammed for no multi day passes which are back albeit the discount is nominal.
 

Nidecker

A Local
Ski Pass
Aug 5, 2009
7,028
15,317
563
Alpine the dark side of snowboarding
Still owned by the same group, but your point stands, the previous board looked at Thredbo as a cash machine and investment wouldn’t provide a return (possibly due to environment?).

The new board appears to have a very different take.

They don’t do everything right but they appear to have made some changes which are evident that they listened to some (not all) feedback. They got slammed for no multi day passes which are back albeit the discount is nominal.

Yep agree with all of this, seems like development is back on the table, as are mountain events, they are kicking goals with more ski school offerings. Much to look fwd too, when its on, its a stunning mountain....
 

Telezacski

A Local
Ski Pass
Mar 19, 2010
8,307
16,660
563
Yep agree with all of this, seems like development is back on the table, as are mountain events, they are kicking goals with more ski school offerings. Much to look fwd too, when its on, its a stunning mountain....

Had a discussion with a staff member wondering if they would move the mid winter dance parties to Merrits and use the Gondola. I suggested they would need to offer premium buckets for the return trips otherwise the following day could be ugly.
 

TechnoSki

Hard Yards
Feb 18, 2022
68
107
33
I now qualify this year for the 70s ski pass and am worried about what they might do. The year I qualified for the over 65 EPIC the price increased substantially over the previous year.
If they do can the 70s pass I hope they give us enough warning so that we can get EPIC pass at its earliest price.
Go to the Perisher website. Epic Australia Pass; FAQs; Is there a seniors pass option (for 2022)? In summary they say yes: The seniors Epic for over 65s. And the over 70s pass purchase directly through the local resort specific for that resort. Check the resort websites later for details. For Perisher, unlimited Skitube Add-on for the over 70s season pass can be purchased during the checkout process.

So there will be a season pass for over 70s. The question being the price. Well in the past Perisher and Thredbo moved in lock step. I note this year Thredbo offers an over 80s pass. Perhaps I did not notice this before.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Chaeron
Remove ads with a
Ski Pass
Remove ads with a
Ski Pass

Log in

or Log in using