Vail’s business is up as it joins Utah ski scene
Leisure travel • New owner of Canyons Resort reports 9 percent increase in skier visits as season wraps.
Published: June 7, 2013 10:42PM
Updated: December 7, 2013 11:33PM
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Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune Vail’s quarterly report noted that Canyons had an operating loss of $2.2 million in the fourth quarter of its ski year.

Vail Resorts Inc. is entering the Utah ski market with enthusiasm after finishing its winter-ending fiscal quarter with a healthy bump in business.

The company, which last week signed a long-term lease to operate Canyons Resort for Talisker, said it earned $97.6 million, or $2.66 per share, in the quarter that ended April 30. That was up 22.7 percent over the same quarter a year earlier. The company also reported net revenues of $469.7 million, an 11.5 percent increase over the previous year.

Chief Executive Robert Katz expects the numbers to get even better now that Canyons is part of Vail’s collection of ski resorts in Colorado, California/Nevada, Minnesota and Michigan.

He said Vail was “incredibly excited” to add Canyons to its system. “Canyons is truly a perfect complement to our existing portfolio of world-class resorts. In North America, there are only a handful of resorts that have the right combination of ski terrain, air access, town experience, developable land and upscale real estate markets to drive significant destination visitation from around the world.

“We are confident Canyons offers that potential as the resort matures over the coming years,” Katz added, citing several reasons for optimism.

Purchasers of Vail’s Epic Pass, he noted, would have access to Canyons along with Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Northstar, Heavenly and Kirkwood resorts. An Epic Pass for 2013-14 now costs $689 for adults. A 2012-13 adult season pass at Canyons cost $849.

“The addition of a Utah destination will be incredibly well received by our existing pass holders and make our pass products even more appealing to skiers and riders in the U.S. and around the world, particularly in Los Angeles and Southern California,” Katz said, adding that spring sales of 2013-14 season tickets were up 18 percent over the previous year’s offering. “The 138,000 passes we sold this spring is more than double the number we sold in the spring of 2008.”

Although Vail’s quarterly report noted Canyons had an operating loss of $2.2 million in the fourth quarter of its ski year, he predicted his company’s expansive marketing apparatus will drive more business to the Park City-area resort, which has 4,000 skiable acres and made $75 million in improvements in recent years.

Vail’s resorts attracted 9.1 percent more skiers in the third quarter than a year earlier, with Colorado resorts leading the way, up 11.8 percent. Larger crowds meant more revenue across the board. Lodging revenues were up 5.6 percent, dining 13.9 percent, ski school lessons 11.8 percent and retail/rental operations 7.4 percent.

Vail’s real-estate holdings in Colorado also boosted the company’s bottom line.

Nine units were sold during the quarter, two at the Ritz-Carlton at Vail, producing a net quarterly cash flow of $6 million. Vail also closed an $11.1 million land sale in Breckenridge, the report said.

Vail did not acquire real estate in the Canyons’ deal. Talisker will retain ownership of 4 million square feet of developable real estate.

mikeg@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sltribmikeg