When Vail Resorts decided to slash prices for their Epic pass by 20%, they clearly didn’t anticipate what that would mean in terms of logistics challenges in a season during which labor shortages would run rampant as workers grew more courage nationwide to demand fair pay, and in which Covid would both keep resort workers home while at the same time freeing remote workers to hit the slopes in huge numbers.
The result was chaos. Incredible lift lines, slashed hours for services, closing off of terrain. Vail Resorts stepped into a quagmire. For months, one of the most cherished Instagram accounts in the ski world was Epic Lift Lines, which was not just poking fun at what the Epic pass discounts had unleashed but was also a rallying cry for better conditions for current and future resort workers.
Well, something had to give and, this week, Vail Resorts announced a major wage increase amid other perks meant to attract and retain the kinds of staff that keep their resorts flowing smoothly.
Vail Resorts CEO Kirsten Lynch sent an email on March 14 that outlined the company’s decision to spend $175 million bucks to keep its employees, and, therefore, its guests, happy.
• $20 minimum wage for all North American resort employees. Merit-based raises annually for salaried workers.
• “We plan to aggressively pursue building new affordable housing on the land we own, and pursue company leases in existing affordable housing developments, so we can make housing more accessible and affordable for our employees.”
• “When our Broomfield office reopens on May 16, corporate employees will not be required to work in the office a specific number of days, nor need to be based in Colorado.” Translation: career workers can live at the resort.
• Career path development for seasonal workers.
It’s a big commitment from one of the biggest ski industry players in the country. Will it improve the Vail Resorts experience next year? We’ll see.
Photo: Zach Dischner / Pxhere