Vail Resorts posted strong yearly financial results this week, with skier visits, pass sales and lift revenue up over the same period in 2017—thanks in no small part to Whistler Blackcomb’s (WB) first full year under the Colorado company’s operation.
“Whistler Blackcomb had another record-breaking year, growing from an exceptional fiscal 2017 as the resort benefited from excellent conditions throughout the season, currency favourability that attracted guests from the U.S. and around the world and the first season of full integration with Vail Resorts,” said Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz in a conference call Friday, Sept. 28.
Total skier visits across the company for fiscal 2018 rose 2.5 per cent, to 12.3 million, compared to last year—this despite historically low snowfall at its resorts in the western United States.
“Our western U.S. destination resorts experienced modest visitation declines compared to the prior year due to the historically poor conditions, particularly for the first half of the season,” Katz said. “However, revenue at our western U.S. resorts was in line with prior year performance due to season pass sales and yield growth.”
Through Sept. 23, Vail Resorts’ North American season pass sales had risen approximately 25 per cent in units and 15 per cent in sales dollars compared to the same period in 2017, partly attributed to growth in the Whistler, Colorado and Tahoe markets. “We believe this growth continues to be driven by our increasingly sophisticated and data-driven targeted marketing efforts to move destination guests into our season pass products, as well as the strategic long-term pass partnerships and acquisitions we have announced that continue to expand our resort network and make the network incrementally more compelling to skiers worldwide,” Katz noted.
Total lift revenue, meanwhile, increased by US$62 million, or 7.6 per cent, compared to fiscal 2017, “primarily due to an increase in pass revenue and incremental revenue from Stowe,” the Vermont ski resort that Vail Resorts acquired last summer.
The company’s total effective ticket price rose five per cent, which Vail Resorts said was driven by season pass and lift-ticket price increases across its resorts, as well as lower visitation per pass.
Vail Resorts’ ancillary businesses also experienced growth this year, with ski-school revenue up 6.8 per cent, dining revenue up 7.2 per cent, and retail and rental revenue up one per cent.
Resort-reported EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) was $616.6 million for fiscal 2018, up 3.9 per cent over last year, while net income attributable to Vail Resorts was $379.9 million for the fiscal year, a jump of 80.4 per cent.
“With a strong base of high-end consumers, we are continuing to leverage our growing network of resorts and sophisticated marketing and yield strategies to drive guest spending across our Mountain segment,” Katz added.
The company’s operating expenses also increased over the year; up 8.2 per cent, or $85.5 million, which was credited mostly to the inclusion of Stowe’s operations this year and incremental operating expenses from WB as a result of its first full year of operations under the Vail Resorts’ umbrella.
For the full financial report, visit investors.vailresorts.com.