Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Okemo will all add new lifts next year in a mix of expansions and replacements. Parent company Vail Resorts made the project announcements alongside a quarterly earnings report this afternoon. “We remain committed to reinvesting in our resorts, creating an experience of a lifetime for our guests and generating strong returns for our shareholders,” said Vail Chairman and CEO Rob Katz.
At Beaver Creek, a new detachable quad will service the high alpine McCoy Park learning zone. “This new lift accessed beginner and intermediate bowl experience is a rare opportunity to expand with highly accessible terrain in one of the most idyllic settings in Colorado and will further differentiate the high-end, family focused experience at Beaver Creek,” said the company. A second quad chair will provide egress to the top of the Strawberry and Upper Beaver Creek Mountain Express lifts.
At Keystone, the Peru Express will be replaced by a six pack subject to government approval. The new machine will increase out-of-base capacity and improve overall circulation. Also in Summit County, a new detachable quad on Breckenridge’s Peak 7 will enhance uphill capacity near the Independence SuperChair. “This additional lift will further enhance the guest experience at the most visited resort in the U.S. and will significantly increase guest access and circulation for the intermediate terrain on Peaks 6 and 7,” said Vail.
Okemo Mountain Resort will complete two transformational projects. Quantum Four will be swapped for a detachable six place lift in the heart of Jackson Gore. The existing equipment, originally installed in 2002 and upgraded with bubble chairs in 2015, will move to replace the Green Ridge triple. Green Ridge is currently the only non-Poma lift at Okemo.
Overall capital spending is expected to reach $210 to $215 million in 2020, including an upgraded restaurant at Whistler Blackcomb and new EpicMix mobile app. The full capital plan will be released in March of 2020.
The latest projects come at the end of a relatively quiet year for lift construction across Vail Resorts with two Doppelmayr and two Skytrac lifts debuting between Crested Butte, Park City and Stevens Pass. Vail focused on other projects for 2019 including massive snowmaking upgrades in Colorado and the integration of Triple Peaks.
As for the financial results, season pass sales through December 2nd were up 17 percent in dollars and 22 percent in units versus the prior year. The company lost $106.5 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2020 compared with $107.8 million a year ago (ski resorts generally lose money this time of year.) Vail expects a resort reported EBITDA of $778 to $818 million for full fiscal year 2020.
Manufacturers for the four new lifts were not specified. Those at Okemo and Breckenridge are likely to be built by Leitner-Poma while Beaver Creek is currently an all-Doppelmayr mountain. Keystone has bought lifts from both manufacturers in recent years.