Updated one month ago
Ok, I have been dark here for a while, so maybe I missed the great debate. But I think this guy really saved the industry. I am sure he will go the way of Les Otten and the American Ski Company but it is fun while it lasts. Truth be told I ski the Vail Reports about 5-6 days a year for the past 10 years so I am in the target audiance, but I love what he is doing from a managment perspective. .
I suspect he will be around a while since Vail sold more than 650,000 Epic Passes generating $525 million.
I am sure he will go the way of Les Otten and the American Ski Company but it is fun while it lasts.
Did Les Otten’s ski company ever generate news such as the 2017 Second Quarter Vail results that includes a fair amount of solid good news from a financial standpoint? Includes an increase in the quarterly dividend.
For sure, the success of the Epic Pass is probably responsible for the creation of other multi-resort passes such as the Mountain Collective Pass and the MAX Pass.
Interesting article. Thanks for sharing. As much as I enjoy skiing, it’s sort of a form of instant gratification and mindless fun for me. I don’t have great insight on the big picture or long term issues. Is Vail saving the industry or strangling it? I don’t know. The EpicPass is certainly a phenomonal offering and it’s clear that Katz’s logic for acquiring small ski areas near Chicago, Detroit to drive vacation traffic to the big western resorts could easily apply to the mid-Atlantic. But what if they start to raise the cost of the season EpicPass so that it’s not such a bargain anymore…or we see many other resorts shrivel up and go out of business? That’s where options like MCP and Maxpass are important to keep things cost-competitive.
I think that the comparison to ASC and the short lived Les Otten empire is valid. ASC looked unstoppable. Then they over reached and hit the limit of available market and profit. Nationwide, skiing numbers are pretty much flat, just as they were then. I think it will be very interesting to see where Vail is 5 years from now.
I live on the west coast now and ski in the Sierra. It is a record snowfall year. Yet, even this can have its downside. There is only 1 way to get to Kirkwood, CA highway 88.. It has high exposed passes on both sides. I look at Kirkwood Facebook page for the daily report almost every day. One week both passes were closed for 5 of 7 days isolating them from any skiers except those staying there. Their on site housing is pretty limited. I wouldn’t be surprised if they have been isolated like that for 30 days this season. There have also been many days when they were unable to open on time, or at all, because of avalanche control work or wind. In any major storm the winds over the Sierra crest surpass 100 mph. One storm this season they reached 200. Combine this with snow removal expense on their roads and lots and it could be a losing or near break even year. I wouldn’t be surprised if Vail sold Kirkwood, which would make KW regulars very happy actually. No other area in Tahoe is as isolated and prone to wind and weather issues. But, it does have GREAT terrain.
The article says that Vail came up with the idea for an inexpensive multi resort pass. That is not accurate. In fact Copper Mountain (I believe owned by ASC at the time, ) came up with it’s “buddy pass.” ff memory serves me, it allowed people to ski at Copper and Winter Park, and cost a whopping $299 the first year.
Vail resorts’ buddy pass, which later morphed iinto it’s colordo card, and then later it’s epic pass was a direct response from the threat that Copper posed.