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Is Vail group financially secure?

Discussion in 'Snow Talk' started by coolair, Jul 11, 2020.

  1. telecrag

    telecrag Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Revenue decreased by 13.7%, profit decreased by 67.2% on 2019

    Slim margin.
     
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  2. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver A Local

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    I'll be interested to see what happens if any resorts have a Covid outbreak.

    You'd have to bet it's a fair chance considering the US' current state of play. Does that close the resort or is it just, bury it and play on.
     
  3. skiflat

    skiflat Old n' Crusty

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    I'm guessing vail almost wanted it to happen here as a tester....
     
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  4. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Here's an example for an independent ski resort in the USA from August . . .

    Recently I got curious about what Timberline in Oregon was doing in terms of limiting capacity. They have been open most of the summer per usual, with adjustments of course. Check out below what I found for the Timberline Lodge. The Lodge is a historic building built during the Great Depression in the 1930s by local people paid by a program funded by the Federal government. Owned by the U.S. Forest Service and operated by the family who rescued it from oblivion a few decades ago (with their own money). The Lodge is right on the mountain. There are ski slopes above and below the Lodge.

    Apparently there were three situations in August when an employee of the Lodge tested positive. Clearly taken seriously but is not a cause for panic. My sense is that the Lodge remained open in terms of guests. It's been open at limited capacity since late May or early June.

    My guess is that the reaction would be very different in New England or NY State. Those are the states that have had travel restrictions for months, with no signs of changing that approach any time soon. New Mexico is the only state in the Rockies that has travel restrictions. Colorado is unlikely to shut down ski resorts again. I think it's even less likely that Utah would shut down ski resorts. Harder to say for Tahoe area since it spans Nevada and California. In April and May, the locals were definitely actively telling non-residents from the California coast to stay away. I haven't paid attention to that region since June. I have a friend who lives in southern California and has a Senior Epic Tahoe pass.

    VR is likely to handle a positive case differently than Alterra. Would also depend on whether it were an employee or a guest.

    My ski destinations for this season in the Rockies are in Utah (SLC), Wyoming (JH/GT), New Mexico (Taos), and Colorado based mostly on Ikon. So paying attention to Epic and VR is just for fun.

    https://www.timberlinelodge.com/coronavirus-updates

    Situation #1: August 7-13

    Situation #2: August 17

    Situation #3: August 28-30
     
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  5. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver A Local

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    Ok, so no follow up with guests, just monitoring staff. ie no resorts will be closing down in the US. Heavily reliant on staff to do the right thing.

    That's not an unreasonable approach and in line with the US stance on Covid. This will be interesting to watch.
     
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  6. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    To be clear, that's just what was posted on the website. Presumably it was posted in a timely manner so any guest could've seen it as the situation was unfolding. What's harder to know is what was said to guests who were staying at Timberline Lodge at the time. Meaning those who weren't checking the website daily while on vacation. Given that anyone who is willing to stay overnight away from their home is likely to be either very aware of how to keep themselves safe from infection, or oblivious as to why universal face mask usage can stop community transmission, my guess is that a guest wouldn't consider these situations as a reason to pack up and leave early or to cancel a stay.

    I say that someone who is very aware of COVID-19. I have stayed in motels (exterior doors) a few times in the last few months. The lobby of the Timberline Lodge has very high ceiling, probably a full two stories. Assuming all staff are wearing masks 100% of the time at work, as well as guests when indoors, very little chance of transmission there. My experience at an urban timeshare resort (long story) in late June is that employees at that sort of location dependent on tourists are pretty careful when on the job indoors, even when on break. They certainly keep their distance from any guests when passing in the hallways.

    What happens in the PacNW is probably not applicable to the northeast, mid-Atlantic, or midwest. But may apply to the states in the Rockies. And the southeast where I live. :)
     
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  7. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver A Local

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    Hopefully, they'll all take appropriate measures and you'll get a decent season in.

    It will be interesting from a afar, looking at what measures might be taken by the bigger concerns and how well they are managed and what, if anything, will happen if an outbreak occurs.
     
  8. sly_karma

    sly_karma Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    We are just coming off a busy summer tourism season in BC. Obviously no overseas visitors and almost no Americans (except the occasional group that talked their way in claiming they were en route to or from Alaska), but Canadians decided en masse to visit BC. Some hotels and restaurants reported as much as 40% increase in volume. Cases remained low with most of the growth coming during September as school, university and work in general returned to something like normal. Most of the cases have been linked to bars and nightclubs and specific closures and adjustments to operating conditions have been applied there. Cases appear to have leveled off at a hundred a day with hospitalization and death rates remaining very low.

    Feels like we've found a level at which we can live, some new infections are occurring but contact tracing capacity remains robust and unknown source transmission is rare. Mask use continues to be only recommended when physical distancing is not practical. Most people are wearing them when shopping at supermarkets or other stores, but outdoor use is uncommon.
     
  9. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

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    My +1 was talking to a local shop-owner - apparently local retail up 60% on this time last year, for the suburb.
     
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  10. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    What makes VR interesting to watch even though I don't have Epic is the variety of ski areas and resorts that are included. Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire has no slopeside. I think that's true of most of the Ohio ski areas as well. But they will be using the same reservation system and policies as Whistler-Blackcomb and Park City, as well as the core VR ski resorts in Colorado. Fair to say that the local restrictions and guidelines related to COVID-19 vary a lot.

    VR is publicly traded and Epic is used in Australia and Europe. Alterra, Boyne Resorts, and Powdr are privately held, as are the well known independent destination resorts on Ikon. As a result VR is in news headlines in far more news outlets.
     
  11. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver A Local

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    Hi @MarzNC you might find this interesting. https://skiing.substack.com/p/if-youre-looking-for-your-missing

    I'm across most of the ownership and goings on with many of the US resorts via my day job, not DPS. It's all very interesting.
     
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  12. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    The comments aren't surprising since they are from someone who is focused on the northeast, and more in New England than NY or PA.

    " . . .
    In 2016, combined season passes for Stowe ($2,313), Okemo ($1,619), and Mount Sunapee ($1,269) would have cost you $5,201. Now you can get them all, plus Mount Snow, Wildcat, Attitash, Crotched, Hunter, and oh yeah everything Out West for $749 or $999, depending on where and whether you like to ski on holidays.

    That kind of value is hard to comprehend when placed in the historical context of what skiing has traditionally cost in the Northeast. Many large ski areas are still in denial that this is something they have to be concerned with. Medium-to-large-ish Waterville Valley, a fine mountain but also one of the least-interesting in the Northeast owing largely to its almost non-existent glade network, still charges $998 for a season pass. True, skiers can buy up to a White Mountain Super Pass for $1,159, which adds Cannon, Bretton Woods, and Cranmore, but that pass does not include any sort of pass protection and is still more expensive than an Epic Pass. For anyone planning a trip West, the choice here is fairly clear.
    . . ."

    I remember talking to the owner of an independent motel near Stowe soon after the buyout by VR was announced. He was very exited about buying Epic passes for his family of three the following season. He planned to take a family ski vacation to a VR resort out west after the Stowe season was winding down in March. For the adult passes, he was going to save about US$1000 per pass. $2000 is a pretty nice start for a vacation budget that starts with buying plane tickets.

    Fair to say that the ski industry in the northeast is continuing to feel the impact the integration of VR's initial acquisitions in the region with the former Peak Resorts locations. Peak had bought and upgraded those just a few years before. When Stowe was the only northeast resort on Epic, not that much changed. But now the list is Stowe, Okemo, Sunapee, Mount Snow, Hunter, Attitash, Wildcat. Since the northeast is the region that was hit hardest by COVID-19 early on, there are a lot of people very skittish about the idea of flying. The Epic reservation system is very appealing because it is much more of a guarantee of fewer people at the base, as well as on the lifts and slopes. That means a lot of people from New York City to Boston, as well a lot of people in New Jersey and Connecticut may be opting for Epic over Ikon this season.

    Alterra owns Stratton and Sugarbush in Vermont. Ikon is unlimited at those two resorts plus covers Loon, Sunday River, and Sugarbush. Pretty good for Boston, but I think there are people who had Ikon last season in NJ/NYC who may give Epic a shot this season. They can defer Ikon to 2021-22 though. So it might be a temporary bump for VR.
     
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  13. Bato

    Bato One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    From Moodys.
     
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  14. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Here's the northeast viewpoint about the VR press release about the consolidation of marketing staff. Apparently the completion of a process already done for HR and finance after a few years of acquisitions and integration of both independent resorts and small multi-location companies (Triple Peaks, Peak Resorts). While there might have been adjustments because of COVID-19, the core idea wasn't new in 2020.

    October 1, VT Ski and Ride (USA)
    Vail Resorts Eliminates 60 Resort-Based Marketing Positions
    https://vtskiandride.com/vail-resorts-eliminates-60-resort-based-marketing-positions/

    For Whistler-Blackcomb, the shift means 5 old marketing positions no longer exist but a new job exists that is "in resort." People in eliminated positions can apply for open positions that have been created under the new marketing organizational structure.

    October 1, Pique News Magazine (Canada)
    Vail Resorts centralizing marketing roles as part of restructuring
    Roughly 60 marketing roles eliminated across company’s resorts—including five at WB

    https://www.piquenewsmagazine.com/w...keting-roles-as-part-of-restructuring-2760110
     
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  15. Bato

    Bato One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Id like to see their same resort or same district pass sales, taking out the newly acquired resorts. I think they are going to take a large hit this year, and if US property prices go down with the rest of the economy they may find their selfs in a pickle! Putting a freeze on investment gives you a idea of where they are at.
     
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  16. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    At the moment, prices for seasonal rentals and houses/condos near ski resorts are higher and continuing to go up. People who can work from home are planning on either moving permanently or at least spending a month or two close enough to a ski resort that they can get to the slopes for a half day here or there on a regular basis. Have heard of unprecedented prices in the northeast as well as in the Tahoe area. I expect the same is happening in Utah and Colorado.

    VR moved away from the resort real estate business when Katz took over as CEO. Even the previous CEO was shifting away from VR building new lodging. When Katz came up with the Epic pass concept in 2008, it proved a lot more useful and less volatile. Although the VR Board thought he was crazy to reduce pass prices by such a large amount in Colorado.
     
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  17. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Why take out the relatively new locations? Those are the locations that draw from the large metropolitan areas east of the Mississippi. Which resorts are you more interested in?
     
  18. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Why should someone who already has stock not exercise and cash out options? I worked for 15 years at the same company in the pharma industry. I began right after grad school when it was a start up with 40 people. I was lucky to join at just the right time because six years later was publicly held with 17,000 people in N. America and Europe. The CEO/founder created an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) from the beginning. I was a middle manager. My immediate boss was a Director who was one of the original employees. Every employee was given stock annually even when the company was privately held. Middle managers and higher also got stock options after the company went public. The only sensible thing to do with options was to exercise them when possible and cash out. Then use the money to diversify an investment portfolio. There was no reason to buy more of the company's stock.

    I have never had an Epic pass. I don't really care to ski at VR locations because I prefer MCP/Ikon resorts as well as other independent ski areas. But I don't understand some of the anti-Vail sentiment by people who don't ski in Colorado on a regular basis.
     
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  19. Bato

    Bato One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Organic growth is an important measure. Growth through acquisition, while loading up on debt is fine, but you still want to see organic growth. Thats why I'd like to see the figures excluding the newly acquired resorts.
    In regards to stock sales, I get that they load up on options and dump to diversify their portfolio, but on market purchases by directors are seen as confidence in their own company. Directors sell for many reasons, but only buy for one!
    Look at their debt rating, its one level above being classed as speculative and high credit risk.
     
  20. MarzNC

    MarzNC One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Oddly enough, in that case I'd be more interested in the opposite numbers. Meaning I'd like to see the number of Epic passes being bought by the newly acquired locations. Especially interesting for 2020-21 for the new Northeast passes. Those are the people who have many other choices in their home region besides VR resorts, including Ikon/Alterra resorts. That's the market that VR was counting on to increase Epic sales after 2019. The entire point was to entice people in the northeast to consider going for Full Epic or Epic Local in order to take a trip out west for 4+ days.

    Rambling . . .

    Ikon is still relatively new. MCP covers the same resorts in terms of Ikon partners. Those companies are all privately held, so even total number of purchases are hard to guess.

    VR has decided to go with a well organized reservation system. Presumably based on the experience in Australia. Alterra is avoiding lift access reservations. Ikon partners are a mix, with Powdr choosing to use parking reservations more than lift access reservations. The distinction is pretty clear.