Vail Resorts to Replace Two Lifts at Stevens Pass

After spending approximately $150 million on capital improvements in 2018, Vail Resorts revealed early this morning its capital plan for 2019.  First, a recap.  The company went big on lifts this year, building a total of seven including the game-changing Blackcomb Gondola, Catskinner Express and Emerald 6 Express at Whistler Blackcomb, High Meadow Express at Park City and new Galaxy triple at Heavenly.  Contracts for projects in all three countries Vail operates were awarded to Doppelmayr this round.  With Stevens Pass joining Vail Resorts in August and Crested Butte, Mt. Sunapee and Okemo following in September, next year’s focus will skew towards snowmaking, ticketing infrastructure and restaurants.

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Brooks is a 1968 Riblet double at Stevens Pass that Vail Resorts will replace with a new chairlift in 2019.

Vail will build two lifts at Stevens in 2019.  “We plan to replace and upgrade the Daisy and Brooks lifts, both of which serve critical terrain for beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders,” says the company.  The lift replacements will reduce lift line wait times and increase total lift capacity at Stevens Pass by more than nine percent.  Brooks is slated to become a high speed, detachable quad and Daisy a fixed grip quad pending Forest Service approval.  Other projects include snowmaking expansions at Keystone, Vail and Beaver Creek, a new Tombstone restaurant at Park City and new skier services facility at Breckenridge.  “We remain committed to reinvesting in our resorts, creating an experience of a lifetime for our guests and generating strong returns for our shareholders,” notes CEO Rob Katz.

More lifts should follow in 2020.  “We will be investing in planning for strategic projects for the next several years to get the necessary regulatory approvals for major lift, restaurant and terrain expansion opportunities,” the company says.  “Among these planning projects is the signature McCoy Park terrain expansion at Beaver Creek which was recently approved by the U.S. Forest Service and we hope to open for the 2020/2021 ski season.  McCoy Park will provide guests with great beginner and intermediate skiing in one of the most idyllic settings in Colorado.”

2019 projects will total $175 to $180 million, up markedly from last year.  Vail will release more details about its capital plan in March and I’m hoping a few lift projects get added.  The approved Golden Peak T-Bar and Game Creek Express upgrade projects on Vail Mountain were noticeably absent from today’s announcement.  Nearly all of Vail’s resorts are enjoying plentiful early season snowfall and Epic Pass sales are up 21 percent in units and 13 percent in dollars compared with last year.  Vail now has more than 925,000 season passholders, making lift capacity even more important in the years to come.

Stevens Pass trail map from last season.
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29 thoughts on “Vail Resorts to Replace Two Lifts at Stevens Pass

  1. Carleton December 7, 2018 / 6:38 am

    For the northeast this is pretty underwhelming…. A couple of base lodge make overs for Okemo, otherwise nothing new. I can understand them wanting to get a bit more time operating Okemo and Sunapee, but I thought Stowe might get a new lift or two…. Hopefully they will at least do the lift replacements already planned for Sunapee, which involved repurposed lifts, as that shouldn’t cost them much.

    Like

    • Ryan Gardner December 8, 2018 / 1:27 am

      Time for a lookout express at Stowe.

      Like

  2. Charlie December 7, 2018 / 6:57 am

    Still nothing at Afton, as a Minnesota skier they should replace every lift at the resort and not none of them

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    • Ryan Gardner December 8, 2018 / 1:30 am

      Why, what lifts do they have at Afton?

      Like

      • Charlie December 8, 2018 / 10:01 am

        14 doubles

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        • Ryan Gardner December 8, 2018 / 7:03 pm

          Wow.. what years and makes?

          Like

  3. Jonathan December 7, 2018 / 7:41 am

    Do you think Vail would replace the Brooks Lift with a DC 4 with the same capacity or a new 2 or 3 chair?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter Landsman December 7, 2018 / 7:53 am

      I read the press release to mean they are spending $7 million combined at Stevens and Okemo next year. That suggests to me two fixed grip lifts. I hope I am wrong. Still leaves $28 million for 2020 as part of the two year commitment at the four new resorts on top of $6 million in integration costs.

      I expect more details from Stevens later today. The corporate release went out at 3:45 am Pacific!

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      • jcpierce05 December 7, 2018 / 7:56 am

        I do think they need a High Speed quad there. Have any manufacturers been announced yet?

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        • Peter Landsman December 7, 2018 / 8:11 am

          No. The 2012 master plan had two options for Brooks. “Brooks Long” would be a 4,400′ high speed quad in virtually the same location as the current double. “Brooks Short” would be a triple in the same alignment but end about half way up. With that option, a new traverse would be constructed from the top of Skyline to the top of the current Brooks lift.

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      • xlr8r December 8, 2018 / 10:37 am

        They definitely must be holding off announcing other improvements. What is announced here just does not add up 180 million

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        • Brendan December 9, 2018 / 10:47 am

          It’s over all their resorts.

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    • Brendan December 9, 2018 / 10:51 am

      Article states, “Brooks is slated to become a high speed, detachable quad”

      Like

  4. Charlie December 7, 2018 / 10:29 am

    Did you know that Perisher has a 1961 double chair

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  5. David December 7, 2018 / 11:34 am

    Wow their stock is down 20% today. I guess the market doesn’t understand all the lift spending.

    I wonder if the Brooks upgrade will be followed with some trail expansion in the grace lakes area.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tommy B December 7, 2018 / 12:06 pm

      Today’s decline in the stock price is more related to a quadrupling of the quarterly loss from the year ago period and the overall volatility in the market. I understand this is correlated with lift spending, but it still wiped out $1.7 billion of market value in MTN stock.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thomas Jett December 7, 2018 / 8:37 pm

      I’m pretty sure that a lot of that loss comes from fears of the current Chinese situation bringing about another recession.

      Like

  6. Carleton December 7, 2018 / 1:12 pm

    Sounds like they may announce other capital projects in March? From their press release

    Regarding calendar year 2019 capital expenditures, Katz said, “We remain committed to reinvesting in our resorts, creating an experience of a lifetime for our guests and generating strong returns for our shareholders. We will announce our complete capital plan for calendar year 2019 in March 2019, but we are pleased to announce several signature investments planned for the 2019/2020 ski season.”

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    • Peter Landsman December 7, 2018 / 1:22 pm

      There’s always a chance for more. In the last five years, a few lifts have been announced outside of the December earnings release. Namely Red Buffalo Express and the Wilmot lifts.

      Sounds like Alterra will wait until March for the rest of theirs.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Charlie December 7, 2018 / 2:59 pm

        If they did it for Wilmot I still have hope for Afton

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        • PP492 December 7, 2018 / 6:28 pm

          Wilmot’s lift were announced 2 months after the purchase. Looks like all the Halls at Afton have been well upkept since that purchase.

          Liked by 2 people

      • Brendan December 8, 2018 / 11:32 am

        You think maybe they’re holding off to steal Alterra’s thunder or just align their announcements so one doesn’t get too much off-season hype from a later announcement date?

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  7. Peter Landsman December 7, 2018 / 3:31 pm

    Brooks will be a high speed quad and Daisy a fixed quad. Score for Stevens!

    Like

    • jaytrem December 7, 2018 / 7:23 pm

      Can we assume they’re going with the long version then?

      Like

    • Ryan Gardner December 8, 2018 / 7:05 pm

      Sad to see another Thiokol go to the scrapper :( (Daisy)

      Like

  8. Peter Danis December 7, 2018 / 6:28 pm

    So vail is only building two new lifts this summer?

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    • Ryan Gardner December 8, 2018 / 1:36 am

      I bet we’ll see more.

      Like

  9. Carleton December 10, 2018 / 11:20 am

    I’m wondering how much their technology plan is costing. They did hire a new CIO in October (promoted from within)…. I was at Okemo last week standing in a long line at the ticket window waiting to buy a Ski with Friends ticket and thinking: ‘I should be able to do this online’ – and lo and behold, that’s one of the things they announced.

    “Improvements to direct-to-lift access across Vail Resorts’ 17 North American mountain resorts
    Vail Resorts plans to increase express lift ticket fulfillment capacity by 40 percent through new handheld, mobile technology at its 17 North American resorts to allow skiers and snowboarders who purchased tickets in advance to bypass the ticket window altogether, and obtain their RF-enabled lift ticket from roving ticket agents at base area lifts. Guests will then be able to move directly into the primary lift line to begin their day on the mountain.

    “Reducing guest wait times is a top priority across Vail Resorts,” said Katz. “Direct-to-lift technology enhancements for advance purchase lift tickets is one of the more significant transformational investments we can make to improve the guest experience.”

    Also new for 2019-20, season pass holders or their guests can pre-purchase Ski With a Friend or Buddy benefit tickets online and take advantage of express fulfillment with the Company’s new mobile capabilities at base area lifts.”

    Like

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