A testimony to good early season snow, lift ticket revenues and skier visits were up solidly at Vail Resorts' six mountain resorts through the holiday season.
Although Utah resorts don't disclose their visitor numbers until the season ends, early results here look to be even better than Vail's, said Nathan Rafferty, head of the industry's marketing arm, Ski Utah.
"Feedback from our member resorts helps me estimate that Utah's skier day numbers have seen a low double-digit increase from the start of the season through the December holiday period," he said Tuesday.
Denver-based Vail Resorts reported that lift ticket revenues were up 7.4 percent and skier visits 10.1 percent through Jan. 6, compared with results for the same period a year earlier.
Increased visitation translated into higher spending on other services offered by the resorts. Ski school revenue was up 11.5 percent, spending on dining rose 13.3 percent and sales at retail and rental shops increased 17.5 percent.
Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz said in a news release Monday: "We feel great about results to date and the momentum we have going into the remainder of the season." He noted that customer spending on ski lessons, food and retail purchases exceeded the increase in lift-ticket sales, indicating "a continuation of the improving consumer spending trends we first reported in the spring of 2010."
The results reflected the performance of Vail's four Colorado resorts Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone plus Heavenly and Northstar-at-Tahoe in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada.
Because Northstar-at-Tahoe was purchased between seasons, Vail said its numbers were adjusted as if Northstar were owned in both periods.
"Tahoe skiers have embraced the opportunity to ski our two Tahoe resorts on a one-pass product," Katz said, adding "our growing season pass-holder base enjoyed outstanding snow conditions across all of our mountain resorts."
Utah ski resorts also have been helped with bountiful early winter snow, prompting Rafferty to share Katz's confidence about the momentum borne from a strong start.
"Although preliminary, we're seeing a positive uptick on website visits, presumably due to Utah Office of Tourism ads that launched Jan. 3 [on national cable channels] and are in market for three weeks during this important post-holiday booking period," Rafferty added.