Vail Resorts announces $52M face-lift at Whistler
Vail Resorts says it will invest $52 million in improvements at Canada’s Whistler Blackcomb resort.
Vail president Rob Katz used the company’s quarterly earnings call to announce that Whistler resort will be a big part of next year’s capital improvement plan.
At Whistler, Vail will build a 10-passenger gondola, six-seat chairlift and highspeed quad.
The gondola will be part of what the company calls the world’s first interconnection of three gondolas at one resort.
During the call, Katz said the company has plans for a total of $150 million in mountain improvements in its 2018 fiscal year. The full plan will be announced in March.
Responding to a question from market analysts participating in the call, Katz said the announcement about Whistler allows the company to get an early start on marketing efforts.
Signs will go up at the resort this season, and guests will know there are improvements coming. “(That) drives a perception of quality,” Katz said. That, in turn, can help draw high-end guests to the resort.
Talking about the start to the season, Vail Resorts chief financial officer Michael Barkin said the company posted a net loss of $28.4 million in its first quarter. That compares to a loss of $62.2 million for the same period in the 2017 fiscal year.
That fiscal year is Aug. 1 to July 31. Resorts aren’t operating through much of the period, so it’s common for the company to post a loss during the quarter.
The news was better elsewhere in the company’s operations.
Katz said the company’s season pass sales, through last Sunday, increased 14 percent in units and 20 percent in revenue over the same period in the previous year.
Overall, Vail Resorts expects to sell 740,000 passes for the 2017-18 season.