Vail Resorts properties seemingly have become the resorts everyone loves to hate. Why? It’s true that the network has gotten a lot of not-so-flattering press lately for its long lift lines and ability to open terrain. Much of that changed recently with the storm that brought a significant snowstorm to New England and the lower Mid-Atlantic.
Still is that the only reason? Among others, the snow sports industry trade newsletter -The Snow Industry Letter – reported a number of other concerns cited by industry insiders and Vail personnel. These include labor shortages, leadership turnover, the Omicron variant and the sale of too many Epic Passes that have led to crowded slopes especially during the holidays and on weekends. The bi-weekly TSIL newsletter is subscription-based but its Facebook page is available to the public.
Recently, at Stevens Pass in Washington state, more than 41,000 people had signed a petition asking Vail Resorts to improve conditions that had frustrated season pass holders. Vail recently replaced the Stevens Pass GM, Tom Fortune, who went on to become the GM at Heavenly. In the East, Attitash general manager, Greg Gavrilets resigned in mid-January to take a job at Mt Rose, near Lake Tahoe and not a Vail property. At least Vail’s most recent acquisitions in southern Pennsylvania have bounced back from a sluggish holiday period and very cold temperatures in the region have rejuvenated snowmaking operations.
And Wall Street appears to be noticing the struggle. Vail Resorts’ stock peaked at $372.51 in early November, a month before the company reported selling 2.1 million advance tickets and season passes and told investors it had $1.5 billion in cash on hand for new acquisitions. As of January 21, 2022, Vail Resorts was trading below $300 a share.
Quick Quiz: Do you know who has the coldest chair lift in New England? According to a Boston.com article, the consensus seems to be Jay Peak’s Green Mountain Flyer Quad. The lift has been dubbed The Freezer. One Brookline, MA resident summed it up this way, according to the article: “It catches the wind just right and sometimes moves backwards with gusts. Should be a windmill.”
On a positive note, the ride down is supposedly worth it.
Cannon Mountain’s Cannonball came in second. According to the article, one Cannon Mountain customer commented “You can look to the left and see wind and snowblown trees that only look like they could be in Siberia, or maybe a Bob Ross painting. I would give you a more accurate location but my eyelids are usually frozen shut and tearing up through what little exposed face I have showing.”
The article goes on to mention several other cold lifts in the Northeast.