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Vail Resorts on Friday issued the following press release on its financial period from the beginning of ski season through Jan. 2:
BROOMFIELD, Colo., Jan. 14, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Vail Resorts, Inc. (NYSE: MTN) today reported certain ski season metrics for the period from the beginning of the ski season through January 2, 2022, compared to each of the two prior year periods through January 3, 2021 and January 5, 2020, respectively. Given the significant impacts of COVID-19 in the prior year period, the Company is also providing metrics relative to the comparable fiscal year 2020 season-to-date period. The reported ski season metrics are for our North American destination mountain resorts and regional ski areas, and exclude the results of our recently acquired Seven Springs, Hidden Valley and Laurel Mountain resorts (together, the “Seven Springs” acquisition) and our Australian ski areas in all periods. The data mentioned in this release is interim period data and is subject to fiscal quarter end review and adjustments.
Commenting on the ski season to date, Kirsten Lynch, Chief Executive Officer said, “As expected, season-to-date 2021/2022 North American ski season results are significantly outperforming results from the prior year, due to the greater impact of COVID-19 and related limitations and restrictions on results from the 2020/2021 season. Relative to the 2019/2020 North American ski season, the 2021/2022 North American ski season got off to a slow start with challenging early season conditions that were worse than our expectations, resulting in delayed openings and limited open terrain that persisted into the first week of the holidays ending December 26, 2021. Relative to the comparable periods in both fiscal year 2021 and fiscal year 2020, results across our destination resorts improved following Christmas as conditions improved between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The storms during the holiday period created disruptions on certain key peak days that negatively impacted our results, particularly at our Tahoe resorts, which were each fully closed between one and three days during the peak holiday period. Whistler Blackcomb has experienced favorable conditions to date but, as expected, continues to be disproportionately negatively impacted by COVID-19 related travel restrictions on international visitors. Conditions at our Eastern U.S. ski areas were challenged and inconsistent through the holiday period with limited natural snow and variable temperatures that reduced our snowmaking activity. Although overall visitation was negatively impacted by the poor conditions, particularly among our local guests, our season pass sales results significantly mitigated the impact of the challenging start to the season on lift revenue and highlighted the stability created by our advance commitment strategy.
“In addition to the impacts associated with the challenging conditions, we believe that the significant acceleration of COVID-19 cases associated with the Omicron variant has negatively impacted our results along with the broader travel sector as we expect certain guests reconsidered travel plans and were impacted by related flight cancellations. The impact of COVID-19 cases amongst our employees and the related employee exclusions from work resulted in further challenges in an already difficult staffing environment. Relative to the comparable season-to-date period in fiscal year 2020, our ancillary lines of business have experienced revenue declines in excess of the declines in visitation, particularly in food and beverage, which has experienced an outsized impact related to numerous operational restrictions. Given the challenging staffing environment, exacerbated by COVID-19 related work exclusions, we implemented both a holiday and end of season bonus for our employees, the cost of which we estimate at $20 million, and which we believe will positively impact staffing through the rest of the season in conjunction with expected declines in COVID-19 work exclusions.”
Lynch continued, “While the challenging season-to-date conditions and COVID-19 related dynamics put downward pressure on overall results, we anticipate that the stability created by our season pass business, the relative strength of our destination visitation over the holidays, and recently improved conditions and results will lead to improving results for the remainder of the season. As a result, we continue to expect that Resort Reported EBITDA for fiscal year 2022 will be within the guidance range issued on December 9, 2021, including the estimated $20 million impact from the bonus programs and an estimated $10 million in Resort Reported EBITDA from the operations of Seven Springs for the period from the transaction closing on December 31, 2021 through the end of the fiscal year, neither of which were anticipated in our original guidance. The Company’s guidance excludes any estimates for integration expenses associated with the Seven Springs acquisition. The guidance assumes normal conditions and operations across our resorts for the remainder of the ski season, no incremental travel or operating restrictions associated with COVID-19 that could negatively impact our results and the same foreign currency rates as when the guidance was originally issued.”
Basis of Presentation
The reported ski season metrics include growth for season pass revenue based on estimated fiscal 2022 North American season pass revenue compared to both fiscal 2021 and fiscal 2020 North American season pass revenue. As discussed above, several of our resorts experienced delayed openings associated with challenging early season conditions, which will result in pass product revenue being recognized in the third quarter of fiscal 2022 that would have otherwise been recognized in the second quarter of fiscal year 2022. Excluding the impact of the delayed openings on the timing of season pass revenue recognition, our season-to-date total lift revenue would have been up 25.4% compared to the prior year season-to-date period, and would have been down 0.6% compared to the fiscal year 2020 season-to-date period. Fiscal year 2021 season pass revenue does not include the pass product revenue recognized in the first quarter of fiscal year 2021 as a result of unutilized pass holder credits, and fiscal year 2020 season pass revenue was adjusted to exclude the impact of the deferral of pass product revenue as a result of pass holder credits offered to 2019/2020 North American pass holders. This approach results in comparisons of season pass revenue exclusive of the impact of discounts provided to our 2019/2020 pass holders. The metrics include all North American destination mountain resorts and regional ski areas excluding the Seven Springs acquisition, and are adjusted to eliminate the impact of foreign currency by applying current period exchange rates to the prior periods for Whistler Blackcomb’s results.