Vail Resorts Facing the Effects of Staff Shortages

Aunika Skogen | | Industry NewsIndustry News
ski area terrain closed
Closed terrain; image: dreamstime.com

Winter is finally here across the country, and skiers and snowboarders are beginning to head up and enjoy the mountains. However, at areas managed by Vail Resorts, the season may look different as many areas are short on staff. 

Many of Vail’s resorts across the US have cut back on operating hours this year. Ski areas like Brandywine and Alpine Valley may not open this year. After a late start to the season, many resorts had to create a man-made base by blowing snow, but due to severe staffing shortages, there aren’t enough skilled workers to make that happen. Not only are resorts experiencing a lack of workers to make snow, but also a lack of employees to operate lifts. 

The staffing shortage is partly due to the ongoing pandemic, but locals are also blaming the mismanagement and lack of preparation for the season by Vail Resorts. With the amount of limited staff at these resorts, some employees are having to take on new roles. In some cases, ski instructors are being asked to operate lifts.

Vail Resorts Lift Lines
Packed Lift Lines at Vail; image: denver.cbslocal.com

Seasonal workers are paid a minimum wage. For example, ski patrollers who undergo major avalanche and medical service training are paid $15 an hour. Without ski patrollers to make sure terrain is safe, resorts aren’t opening the same amount of terrain as they have in previous seasons. Even if the terrain were open, with limited lifties, most of the terrain wouldn’t even be reachable. 

Not only is Vail Resorts lagging in hiring trained personnel to run the areas, but the company saw a 76% increase in Epic Pass sales this 2021-2022 season. This results in crowded areas with limited terrain for skiers and riders to spread out. Passholders are feeling scammed; not only is less terrain open, but the cutback on hours the resorts are open limits how much they can ski in a season. Just this past week, skiers and riders from Stevens Pass had over 30,000 signatures on a petition to Vail Resorts to resolve these issues or offer a refund for their passes. 

Resorts managed by Vail all across the country are experiencing shorter hours of operations with only 60% of the terrain open to ski. Customers are furious after spending hundreds on a ski pass to resorts with less terrain, and most likely a shorter season overall. 

epic pass
This Season Has Had More “Epic” Lift Lines Than Skiing; image: skyhinews.com

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13 thoughts on “Vail Resorts Facing the Effects of Staff Shortages

  1. That is not true. I was up at Heavenly the week after NY day and most chairs werent working and freaking long lines! Horrible!

  2. I live in Beaver Creek and Wendy’s starting pay in Edwards is $18 per hour. Vail Resorts feels that it is ok to have ski patrol who do life saving measures to be paid at $15 per hour. This speaks loads about the mismanagement of Vail Resorts and the lack of concern and respect they have for their key asset–the rank and file employees who actually do the work vs. the overpaid executives. These same overpaid and underskilled executives(???) have no problems firing senior age employees to save money. Finally, the Justice Department should start anti-trust action against Vail Resorts. Breaking up VR would bring back ski areas that have to be accountable to their customers and employees.

  3. EpicPass also has maddeningly bad customer service. I’ve tried repeatedly in the last months to get them to ship me my pass (turns out they never mailed it in the first place) and they keep (after very long efforts on my part) saying it’s on its way and then…I follow up a few weeks later when it hasn’t arrived and there’s no trace of my prior calls (or printing/sending) in their system. On one call, a service agent will say their system is one thing.
    On the next call, a new service agent says it’s something completely different. It just feels like they’ve given up on any kind of functioning customer service as a whole.

  4. Heavenly and Kirkwood don’t seem affected much by staff shortages. Only the Galaxy chair isn’t running at Heavenly. Everything spinning at Kirkwood. No change to operating hours.

  5. Nice to hear from other sources what I have been feeling/experiencing. Vail Resorts cannot even competently operate Vail Mountain. This goes back for a good few years now, at least about ten. I have been skiing there since 1972. They are destroying the old Vail experience by packing in epic crowds. The classic back bowl’s snow conditions were so much better when there was only one fixed grip double chair back there, and attendance was such that the lift was sufficient. I could write a essay, but in a nutshell VR suffers a high level of incompetence, and indifference. I know, I worked for them for 19 years.

  6. They keep blaming it on the pandemic over and over but the truth is they mandated employees to get the vaccine and lost a BULK of employees and any new employees due to that. The pay was the same as last year and they didnt have this problem???
    No matter what side of the fence your on with that topic, its the truth.

  7. I’d much rather see Vail increase the pay to attract more workers than to refund passes. Either way is a cut in their bottom line, but at least hiring more will let us ski which is the whole point. I can’t imagine bumping the minimum wage to $20/hr for lifties would be that big of impact.

  8. I was at Vail Resort Breckenridge resort yesterday. Food service was epically slow. All foreign hires, they were just milling around and chatting with each other and barely working. And much of the Mountain is still closed although they have excellent snow coverage. Sound like they need to refund 35+ percent purchase price to match the reduction in their product.

  9. It’s common knowledge among locals that Vail Associates instituted a new compensation policy that cut pay for senior employees while increasing pay for newbies—-Shrewd–kill off your knowledgeable, dedicated employees to subsidize newbies with no expertise who will be gone tomorrow. VA also killed their volunteer program. The consumers of Vail Associates products get what they pay for….overcrowding, dangerous slopes and a management more concerned with real estate than skiing….our National Forests at work.

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