Park City Mountain’s double-digit growth contributed to Vail's earnings

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Park City Mountain had double-digit earnings growth this past season, helping Vail Resorts report a profit of $210 million for the year ending July 31, despite a 5.4 percent decline in skier visits in the United States.

Park City Mountain’s merger into the Vail Resorts empire boosted the company’s bottom line in the fiscal year that ended July 31.

“In Park City, we experienced a double-digit [earnings] growth rate,” Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz said Thursday in his company’s quarterly report, “as our investment to create the largest ski resort in the U.S. continues to generate excitement among skiers and drive strong yield growth.”

No dollar figures were offered to detail Park City’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, but such earnings for Vail Resorts totaled $593 million, up 31 percent over the previous year.

The company’s net earnings lagged behind, at $211 million, but that still represented a 41 percent increase over profits for fiscal year 2016.

Vail’s $1 billion acquisition of Whistler Blackcomb resort in western Canada, completed Oct. 7, 2016, before the first snows fell last winter, proved especially advantageous for the company’s bottom line.

“Whistler Blackcomb delivered outstanding results that were well above our expectations,” Katz said.

Including the British Columbia resort in the yearly figures, Vail Resorts’ skier visits for the 2016-17 winter hit 12 million, up 20.1 percent over the previous season. That more than offset a 5.4 percent decline in visitation to company resorts in the United States.

Katz attributed the U.S. drop to ”poor early season conditions in Colorado and the late timing of the Easter holiday.” Whistler Blackcomb’s performance was aided, he noted, by currency exchange differences that made it attractive for Americans and other foreigners to vacation in Canada.

Even with fewer U.S. visitors this past winter, sales of Epic Passes throughout Vail Resorts’ expanded territory resulted in higher lift-ticket revenues — up 6.4 percent in the U.S. and 24.4 percent overall, to $160 million.

Katz predicted that number will grow for the 2017-18 season.

As of Sunday, he noted, season pass sales were up 17 percent by number and 23 percent by dollar total. Part of that boost reflects the addition of Vermont’s Stowe Resort to the Epic Pass package for this upcoming season. In June, Vail Resorts closed a $41 million deal to buy Stowe.

Having Stowe in the fold for its first full season should help Vail Resorts raise its net income from $211 million last year to between $234 million and $272 million this coming year, Katz added.

Park City Mountain’s base area is scheduled to open Nov. 17, followed by its Canyons base on Nov. 22, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.