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Vail Resorts: Season Pass Sales Boost Profits Despite Drought

Despite the ongoing drought in Lake Tahoe, Vail Resorts managed to increase their earnings nationwide to $267.3 million for the three months ending April 30. The latest numbers come from a conference call Monday of this week, which document overall positive gains for the industry leader. The CEO of Vail Resorts, Rob Katz, summarized, "We are pleased with our performance in the third quarter of fiscal 2015," said Katz. "Our results reflect the continued momentum from our growing season pass products, our ability to attract high-end destination guests to our collection of resorts and the profitable growth that we are driving across our business." That's good news for a company that's spent big in the past few months; Vail Resorts is currently in the midst of a $50 million capital improvement project in Park City and closing a deal for $135 million with Perisher Ski Resort in Australia.

More on Vail Resorts:
10 Fast Facts On The Ski Industry's Biggest Player: Vail Resorts
Colorado Boosts Vail Resorts' Profits, Tahoe Lags Behind
Vail Resorts Plans to Focus on Mountains, Not Real Estate
What It Means To Ski in a Vail-Dominated World
CEO Admits that Vail Resorts Wants to Take Over World

Vail's Colorado resorts compensated for the low snowfall in Tahoe and unseasonably high temperatures in Utah. While skier visits were down a whopping 33 percent at Vail's Lake Tahoe resorts (Northstar, Heavenly, and Kirkwood), the company managed to increase lift revenue by more than 13 percent nationally.

Facts and figures:

· Vail Resorts reported a 10.9 percent increase in net earnings in the third fiscal quarter compared to last year.
· Lift revenue was up 13.2 percent, lodging was up 1.7 percent, and ski school was up 6 percent.
· All of these gains came despite an overall decline of 1.4 percent in skier visits compared to last year. Vail says that this decline was likely because of the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships held in Vail for two weeks in February. While fewer people took to the slopes during this time, the company still expects to reap rewards from the successful event in the upcoming years.

So how is Vail managing to make money when things skier visits are down? Season pass sales. The third quarter saw a 20.9 percent growth in season pass revenues and overall season pass sales are up 12 percent in passes and 20 percent in sales dollars compared to the same period last year. And while local skiers in Colorado, Utah, and Tahoe will always be crucial to Vail's season pass program, about 43 percent of the company's current season pass sales are being driven by destination skiers. Day lift ticket prices may inch higher and higher, but destination skiers are being lured by the promise of the value-driven Epic Pass.

· Vail Resorts reports early pass sale boost [Vail Daily]
· Pass sales again buoy Vail Resorts as fewer skier visits are logged [Denver Post]
· Tahoe's sparse snow scared off skiers [RGJ]
· Vail Resorts Gets Green Light to Create the Largest Ski Resort in the United States [Curbed Ski]
· The Ultimate Guide to Buying the Best Season Pass, March '15 [Curbed Ski]
· Vail Resorts Goes International With Purchase of Australia's Perisher Ski Resort [Curbed Ski]
· Vail Will Replace Avanti Express With New Six-Person Chairlift [Curbed Ski]