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Despite the unseasonably warm weather across much of the country, ski season is rapidly approaching.
After last season was cut short by the pandemic, many ski resort are preparing for another year of more bumps, less après-ski.
The State of Skiing
In a typical year, snow sports tourism contributes roughly $20 billion of commercial activity to the U.S. economy. But under the cloud of coronavirus, the upcoming season is expected to look different:
- Many major resorts have instituted a lift ticket reservation policy and capped the number of available daily tickets.
- On most mountains, face masks will be required (perhaps not a huge burden while skiing), and sharing a chairlift with strangers will be prohibited.
White Out: Vail Resorts, the owner of the namesake mountain, Beaver Creek, Stowe, and many others, hasn't found its groove in the new normal. The company reported net income of just $99 million in the 2020 fiscal year - down 67% vs. last year. Gnarly.
Analysts say the virus is just one of many looming problems for the industry. Laurent Vanat, a ski industry consultant, claims skiing's global popularity has been waning in younger generations. And since the 1980s, snowfall in the west has fallen by 41%, resulting in a shorter ski season by 34 days.
Despite the tepid ski outlook, there is no shortage of demand for ritzy mountain real estate. Take Aspen, the home of Jeff Bezos' parents:
- So far this year, Aspen and its sister resort Snowmass have recorded $2.6 billion in home sales, the highest value on record according to the Aspen Board of Realtors.
- Aspen has seen 58 home sales over $10 million this year, 14 of which were over $20 million.
Erik Berg of real estate firm Engel & Völkers said that well-heeled buyers are flocking in droves. Erik told the Financial Times, “The volume of private jets has been insane.”
The Takeaway: Planning a ski vacation? Don't expect any major pandemic discounts. A spokesperson for Brighton resort in Utah said, “It’s a premium to be up there, and if people want to be there, they'll have to pay for it."