Park City propels Vail Resorts to strong third quarter |

Park City propels Vail Resorts to strong third quarter

Vail Resorts earnings were up significantly in the third quarter of fiscal year 2015 — and company executives say Park City was a large reason why.

Vail Resorts released its third-quarter financial results earlier this month, and earnings were just more than $267 million, a 10.9-percent increase from the same span last year. Total lift revenue were up 13.2 percent, despite a 1.4-percent decline in skier days, while season pass sales were also up, 12 percent in volume and 20 percent in sales dollars.

The third quarter ended April 30, as ski season was coming to a close.

Rob Katz, CEO of Vail Resorts, said in an interview with The Park Record that Canyons Resort, which Vail Resorts manages, and Park City Mountain Resort, which Vail Resorts bought in September, were critical factors in the company’s solid performance. He said skiers from around the region made it a point to visit Park City.

"There’s no doubt," he said. "We saw huge amounts of enthusiasm for Park City. The town was obviously a huge attraction."

Exact numbers on Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort’s influence on the earnings were not available.

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The driving factors behind Park City’s success were strong season pass sales and the fact Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass granted lift access to both of the town’s resorts, Katz said. That helped the company overcome warm weather that marred ski conditions during much of the third quarter.

"We saw a huge increase in our season pass sales and a big increase in season pass usage in Park City," he said. "When you think about it, the weather in Park City obviously was quite warm. But the benefit of the season passes is people still came and spent money in the town and still went up in the mountains. Many people say, ‘Well, I’ve already purchased a season pass, so I’m still going to make a trip because I’ve already paid for my skiing.’"

Katz said he expects skiers’ attraction to Park City to increase again next year when a much-anticipated gondola connects Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort, creating the largest ski area in the United States.

"It will draw more people to the town," he said. "I think the connection of the two resorts will create such an iconic experience that it’ll really help through the ups and downs of snowfall. Park City will remain very compelling."

The ability of the resorts to bring in skiers even in low snow years should bring a measure of stability to the Park City economy, as well, Katz said.

"They’re going to stay at hotels and go to restaurants and support the overall community," Katz said.

Katz was also pleased that Park City played a significant role in Vail Resorts’ solid earnings despite the fallout of the company’s highly publicized legal battle with Powdr Corp., which sold Park City Mountain Resort to Vail Resorts as a result of the litigation.

"Before this season started in Park City, obviously there was a lot of anxiety and a lot of challenges," Katz said. "I was just very pleased that we were able to make this season successful. There were some snafus, certainly, along the way, but the resorts were open and operating and we did all we could.

"I think (Park City Mountain Resort’s employees) just did an amazing job to deliver that experience this season, given all of the challenges that led up to it."