Vail Resorts to Install Deferred Park City Lifts at Whistler Blackcomb

In its earnings report today, Vail Resorts announced new six and eight passenger lifts will be built at Whistler Blackcomb in 2023, replacing the aging Jersey Cream and Fitzsimmons high speed quads. The project will utilize Doppelmayr equipment originally purchased for Park City Mountain but not installed due to a successful permit appeal by four local residents. On Blackcomb Mountain, Jersey Cream will become a six passenger detachable and on Whistler Mountain, Vail Resorts’ first eight place D-Line will replace the Fitzsimmons Express. Jersey Cream services the heart of Blackcomb’s mid mountain and Fitzsimmons provides out-of-base capacity to Whistler Mountain along with servicing the world’s largest bike park. Jersey Cream capacity will increase 29 percent and Fitzsimmons capacity will jump 73 percent. Fitz will also become the first eight place and first D-Line in Canada.

The two lifts were originally slated to become Eagle and Silverlode, respectively, at Park City. Vail said it remains “committed to resolving our permit” for the new Park City lifts in the future. “When that happens, we plan to purchase the lifts and equipment needed,” the company said. Vail Resorts appealed the permit revocation in July but no resolution has been reached. Due to continued uncertainty, lift equipment was placed in storage in Utah over the summer and will be re-engineered and modified for Whistler Blackcomb. An intermediate unloading station built for Eagle likely won’t be utilized in Whistler. Despite the Park City situation, 18 other lifts that are part of the 2022 Epic Lift Upgrade are proceeding on schedule, including two at Whistler Blackcomb.

“We are excited to continue investing in the guest experience here at Whistler Blackcomb, and the opportunity to upgrade the Fitzsimmons Express and Jersey Cream chairlifts reinforces our commitment to excellence, especially as a world-class destination resort,” said Geoff Buchheister, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Whistler Blackcomb. “Following approvals and installation, these upgrades will reduce lift line wait times and create easier access and flow for all who visit our beautiful mountains,” he continued.

The Whistler Blackcomb projects bring Vail Resorts to at least six new lifts for 2023, including three previously announced investments and the delayed Keystone Bergman Bowl expansion. In July, Vail unveiled plans to replace Summit at Attitash, 5-Chair at Breckenridge and Kehr’s Chair at Stevens Pass for 2023. The Attitash and Breckenridge projects will be detachable quads while Stevens Pass will see a fixed grip quad. Manufacturer(s) for those lifts have not been announced. At Keystone, Bergman Bowl will feature a six passenger Leitner-Poma detachable.

Vail also reported season pass sales increased approximately 6 percent in units and 7 percent in sales dollars through September 24th as compared to a year ago. However, full Epic and Epic Local unlimited season pass sales declined roughly 10 percent. The company’s total 2023 capital plan is expected to total $191 million to $196 million, significantly less than this year’s $323 to $333 million. Those numbers reflect approximately $10 million in capital deferred from 2022 to 2023 as a result of the Park City and Keystone lift delays.

In addition to the six 2023 lift projects, Vail also plans to debut new technology allowing guests to use phones as lift passes via Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity next season.

Vail Resorts to Build New Lifts at Attitash, Breckenridge & Stevens Pass in 2023

Vail Resorts today released quarterly financial results and previewed three signature lift installations for 2023 construction season. The newly-announced projects will follow the record 21 new lifts currently under construction as part of the 2022 Epic Lift Upgrade.

Season pass sales are trending up for the 2022-23 season, increasing approximately 9 percent in units and 11 percent in sales dollars from the year prior as of May 31st. This past season, approximately 72 percent of all Vail Resorts 2021/2022 North American skier visitation was on a pass product. The company noted visitation on weekday and non-holiday periods increased approximately 8 percent last season while visitation on weekend and holiday periods decreased 3 percent, excluding Peak Resorts visitation in both periods. “We believe this trend is driven by the growth in pass sales as pass holders tend to spread their visitation more across the season, and, with the increase in flexible and remote work, we expect this trend to continue,” the company said. Vail is continuing to build new lifts across its portfolio in an effort to increase capacity and improve the ski experience.

Attitash skiers will be thrilled to learn the Summit triple is slated for replacement in 2023. A detachable quad will increase uphill capacity and reduce ride time on the longest lift at the resort. Attitash is also getting a fixed grip quad this summer to replace the mountain’s Borvig double doubles. When both projects are complete, five of Attitash’s seven chairlifts will be quads.

At Breckenridge, 5-Chair will be replaced by a detachable quad in 2023. Redevelopment of the Peak 8 base area will include new teaching terrain and a transport carpet to make the beginner experience more accessible. The new 5-Chair combined with a new Rip’s Ride being constructed this summer will mean all five lifts at the Peak 8 base will be detachable.

Finally at Stevens Pass, a fixed grip quad will replace Kehr’s chair, a Riblet dating back to 1964. This is the third new chairlift for Vail Resorts at Stevens and will improve out-of-base capacity.

Vail is investing approximately $320 million across its resorts this season for improvements. “Vail Resorts will have invested over $2 billion in capital since launching the Epic Pass, increasing capacity, improving the guest experience and creating an integrated resort network,” the company noted. Additional calendar year 2023 investments and upgrades will be announced in the coming quarters.

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