Vermont boasts record ski season

JAY – Gathering at Jay Peak Resort for the Vermont Ski Areas Association’s 46th Annual Meeting, the Vermont ski industry celebrated a record-breaking 2014-15 season with 4,670,903 skier and rider visits.

Vermont topped the previous record from 2001 due to another record early opening with ideal conditions for enhanced snowmaking and a parade of snow storms that gave Vermont the most snow of any state in the continental US. Preliminary numbers show Vermont among just a few states in the country – and the only one in the Northeast – with increased visits.

“A near-perfect winter in Vermont allowed for both early openings and extended season operations, leading to the best season on record,” said VSAA President Parker Riehle. “The abundant snowstorms and our statewide snowmaking prowess created ideal conditions for visitors, with widespread press coverage that helped us get the word out that Vermont was the place to ski and ride this season.”

The other top story of the season was the Great Snow Gun Roundup, which enabled Vermont resorts to make more snow with less energy, compressed air and water through Efficiency Vermont’s program that replaced 2,255 snow guns with 2,721 state-of-the-art low energy guns at 13 resorts – the largest ever snow gun upgrade in the industry’s history. Proceeds from the scrapped guns were generously matched by HKD Snowmakers to substantially boost marketing efforts for Ski Vermont’s Learn to Turn programs.

The strong snow and record visits were  welcome news to the Vermont economy, netting nearly $220 million for the state’s coffers in winter season revenues from the sales tax and the rooms & meals tax. Overall, those revenues increased 4 percent, with  rooms and meals tax revenue alone topping last season by 8 percent.

This year also saw record increases for Ski Vermont in earned media, Learn to Turn program sales and the Check In to Win program. Once again, several Vermont resorts garnered numerous state and national awards for conversion efforts, hospitality, workplace wellness and environmental excellence.

VSAA Green Mountain Awards
Stowe Mountain Resort:  Greenest Overall Resort
Killington Resort:  Most Improved Resort Overall
Killington Resort:  Most Improved Energy Consumption
Stowe Mountain Resort:  Most Improved Water Consumption
Sugarbush Resort:  Most Improved Waste Reduction
Smugglers’ Notch Resort:  Best Green Up Day Event

National Ski Areas Association
Killington Resort:  Conversion Cup Winner
Bromley Mountain Resort:  Conversion Cup Finalist

Vermont Travel Industry Conference
Trapp Family Lodge:  Johannes von Trapp – Innkeeper of the Year
Red Clover Inn:  Restaurateur of the Year

Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness & Sports
Sugarbush Resort: Governor’s Excellence in Worksite Wellness Award

Vermont Business Magazine
Okemo Mountain Resort:  Top Ten Best Places to Work in Vermont
Stowe Mountain Resort:  Top Ten Best Places to Work in Vermont

HKD Snowmakers
Smugglers’ Notch Resort:  Chris Tefft – I Am A Snowmaker Award

At the annual gathering, with an attendance of nearly 300 industry members and marketing partners, National Ski Areas Association President Michael Berry presented the keynote address on the importance of the Millennial generation (ages 18-34) that has emerged as the largest group of snow sports participants. Former Stratton Mountain Resort President and VSAA Board Chair Sky Foulkes was presented with the Industry Achievement Award and Career Employee Awards were presented to Louis Carter of Jay Peak Resort, Larry Pierce of Sugarbush Resort, Paul Roy of Mount Snow Resort, and Barry Shonio of Stowe Mountain Resort.