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The Business of Ski Resorts

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Sign up for an annual CuriosityStream subscription and also get a free Nebula subscription (the new streaming platform built by creators) here: http://CuriosityStream.com/wendover Listen to Extremities at http://ExtremitiesPodcast.com Buy a Wendover Productions t-shirt: https://standard.tv/collections/wendover-productions/products/wendover-productions-shirt Subscribe to Half as Interesting (The other channel from Wendover Productions): https://www.youtube.com/halfasinteresting Youtube: http://www.YouTube.com/WendoverProductions Instagram: http://Instagram.com/sam.from.wendover Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/WendoverPro Sponsorship Enquiries: wendover@standard.tv Other emails: sam@wendover.productions Reddit: http://Reddit.com/r/WendoverProductions Animation by Josh Sherrington Sound by Graham Haerther (http://www.Haerther.net) Thumbnail by Simon Buckmaster Music by http://epidemicsound.com Select footage courtesy the AP Archive References: [1] https://www.powder.com/stories/news/single-day-lift-ticket-at-vail-hits-209/ [2] https://www.newenglandskihistory.com/lifts/listbycost.php [3] https://www.vailresortsretail.com/careers/benefits/; https://asc-mbs.com/benefits-overview-and-requirements/ [4] https://www.zillow.com/aspen-co/home-values/ [5] https://www.zillow.com/manhattan-ny/home-values/ [6] https://aschousing.managebuilding.com/Resident/PublicPages/CustomPage.aspx?cp=21 [7] https://www.denverpost.com/2019/12/29/colorado-transit-mountain-towns/ [8] https://www.nationalforests.org/our-forests/your-national-forests-magazine/the-future-of-ski-resorts-on-public-lands [9] https://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/programs/ski_water_rights/documents/ski_area_program_info.pdf [10] https://www.economist.com/business/2017/02/09/snow-making-companies-in-a-warming-world [11] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378016305556?via%3Dihub [12] https://www.epicpass.com/passes/epic-pass.aspx; https://www.ikonpass.com/en/shop-passes/ikon-base-pass-2019-2020
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Text Comments (1998)
Niek Moller (2 hours ago)
Would you guys recommend skiing in canada instead of america?
Huey551 (4 hours ago)
You say the free market could not supply the housing for the workers in Vail, but the free market did. Unless the government passed a law about it, the company subsidizing housing is part of the free market.
Stefan Modigh (5 hours ago)
1:46 When safety isnt your thing...
Jeff Lee (18 hours ago)
try walking up the mountain for every run for the entire day and then ask how much you would pay for a lift ticket.
Noot (1 day ago)
2:15 i think those piste's are near salt lake city
Adrien Villez (1 day ago)
wmv (1 day ago)
I am Austrian, I grew up in the mountains and I've been skiing since I was 3 years old. And I always wondered how tf those resorts and lifts make money. Ik some people in the lift construction industry and so I know how incredibly expensive it is to build them. And as a frequent skier, I also know how much the amount of visitors can fluctuate over days, from a couple dozens to hundrets or thousands. And I've noticed that in recent years several resorts had to stay closed or use artificial snow all year round bc of the little amount of snow they get now. I think they must be barely profitable and I'm really worried about that.
TheMission9999 (1 day ago)
8:25 Al Gore has entered the chat
René Gordon (2 days ago)
What about the resorts that stay open in the summer as Mt. Biking resorts? You did not cover that as part of the way that some of the companies are continuing to make business. They even charge you to use the ski lift so you can spend most of your day going downhill.
M Yin (2 days ago)
Not in Utah! Most workers live in Salt Lake City, which is a city of 2 million people only 30 minutes away from the resorts. They commute to work from the city.
martin halliday (2 days ago)
If I may blow this thread out of the water, I ski all season in the Grand Massif ski domain in France near Chamonix. The season pass is 480 Euros for 4 months skiing including full ski insurance and helicopter evacuation. 1.08$ to 1 Euro. A standard full area day pass is 48 Euros plus 3€ insurance. The area is huge with 71 major lifts and 165 miles of runs connecting 5 villages. The area is extensively snow cannoned and supplied by purpose built reservoirs if required. Every year new lifts are installed. The ludicrous cost of skiing in the States is crazy. It makes no sense and no wonder so many Americans fly over to ski. Except for February half term holidays and New year week there are zero queues. There is a free ski bus system for anyone to use if you have a pass or not. Our area is not the odd one out either as hundreds more resorts in the Alps and 4 more resorts within 30/40 minutes drive. Come try it, only one hours drive from Geneva airport in Switzerland. The lifts are also open in summer for hikers and mountain bikers. This is all run by a commercial company for profit.
Ludix147 (2 days ago)
I still don't get why they're twice the price as ski resorts in the Alps.
Ludix147 (2 days ago)
7:30 Actually, snow guns work even slightly above 0°C. Because some of the water droplets evaporate, the air is cooled down and the rest can freeze.
Benjamin Chin (2 days ago)
You should do a video on what a Mega Corp company would look like. If apple, google, Facebook, and amazon all combined. What it would look like
Losh (2 days ago)
My ski resort has a downhill mountain bike park for the summer and Autumn months.
Dima Osadchy (2 days ago)
9:03 Bukovel Ski Resort 🔥🔥
Romeo Nijsse (2 days ago)
I’m skiing in Canada right now and I am originally from Holland. In Austria you pay €58 to ski from 08:30-16:00 in a HUGE ski resort. Here you pay C$130 each day?!! And what you get back for it is mwoah, and definitely compared to Austria! In Austria there are barely any old lifts left and everything is just great. But here in Canada and in the US I am just wondering, where is the money going?! All the lifts and infrastructure is falling apart... I believe there is some corporate scam behind skiing in North America and I feel really bad for North Americans when it comes to skiing. You should’ve mentioned European skiing aswell! Europe, where skiing is not a scam :P.
Romeo Nijsse (2 days ago)
I’m skiing in Canada right now and I am originally from Holland. In Austria you pay €58 to ski from 08:30-16:00 in a HUGE ski resort. Here you pay C$130 each day?!! And what you get back for it is mwoah, and definitely compared to Austria! In Austria there are barely any old lifts left and everything is just great. But here in Canada and in the US I am just wondering, where is the money going?! All the lifts and infrastructure is falling apart... I believe there is some corporate scam behind skiing in North America and I feel really bad for North Americans when it comes to skiing. You should’ve mentioned European skiing aswell! Europe, where skiing is not a scam :P.
Arjuna Ravikumar (2 days ago)
clicked thinking "how interesting can this be?" turns out... very! Thanks for the breakdown!
Leo M (2 days ago)
We did a round trip snowboarding across 8 state in 2018... in Colorado at aspen we paid $220 for lift ticket, $20 for parking pass, and only 2/3 of the mountain was closed due lack of snow, and what was open was nothing but ice and rocks, and the terrain was completely destroyed with moguls, the lift lines were like 2miles long. What a rip off.
Jake Jaeger (3 days ago)
I'm a snow maker in Wisconsin we make snow almost every night
Ahmed Bouhraoua (3 days ago)
I’ve been to hidden valley for all of middle school, so many memories made there
Rollyone (3 days ago)
Strait up these numbers are whack. Lifts do not cost 10 million dollars each.. not even close. Maybe about 1 or 2 million. Misewell be cnn.
jferox (4 days ago)
Anyone else yell "put your safety bar down!" at the screen while watching this?
star wars (4 days ago)
this mike is bad
Julian Powell (4 days ago)
I know this is a little off topic but I notice that quite a few people don't bring the safety bar down on the chair lifts. Is this normal in North America because its not in Europe?
Gilles bkf (4 days ago)
When you came to season passes, that’s very true, here in Switzerland, there are 25 ski resorts that have up to 150km of slope each, got the idea to sell a season pass that give you the entrance in all of these resorts, all year. Also for mountain biking in summer, and it costs 400$ 🥳🥳 before they had done this, 3 years ago, most of them were threatened and were close to bankrupt, now there are much more people on the slopes, and they are still happy even if they ski only 3 hours one day.
Gilles bkf (4 days ago)
6:26 That’s not weird, that’s normal, could you point me out any company or anything that owns a mountain ? Like a private mountain ?
Maxime Gaffé (4 days ago)
you forgot to add a metric equivalent for snow making, $5000/acres seems to be ~$1250/km²
Amara Jordan (4 days ago)
I just saw my doctor today and found out he broke his collarbone when he was skiing, got smacked by a snowboarder. Weird timing. O_o
Ieuan Hunt (4 days ago)
Do they have a deal with local hospitals where they get money for every broken bone that comes from the ski resort?
Clément Bourles (4 days ago)
Most expensive lift ticket in france (for the biggest ski resort in the world) : 63€
Freddy Marcel-Marcum (4 days ago)
Yeah, for me snowboarding is expensive, but, I enjoy it even with the lift tickets 'n stuff, because I don't go every day, maybe five or six a year, and that makes me enjoy it even more. As far as the housing situation goes, look, seasonal workers, and I've been one, it's seasonal, and they're glad for the work.
YT gaming (4 days ago)
Canada be like: Ha! we got plenty of natural snow. I should go im too weird..
James The Piano Cat (5 days ago)
Possibly Banff : 12:02
mgpBLARG (5 days ago)
Boo hoo hoo, my yuppie sport is being threatened by more moderate winters.
Joseph Van (5 days ago)
Skiing was at its best in the 1960s and early 1970s. No terrain parks, no hostile out of control snowboarders, lift ticket prices that most people could afford, long skis that required skill to master but that made beautiful arcs in the snow. And form-fitting skiwear of the time that made everyone feel like Suzy Chaffee or Stein Ericksen. Oh, to have those days back again.
Josh Jones (5 days ago)
USA prices are a rip off - in France a top resort is about 40-50 euros per day and that includes some of the best mountains in the world like Chamonix or Three Valleys with hundreds of km of pistes
TrevorBock (5 days ago)
Speaking on Vail Resorts: •Employee housing they rent out to employees for above market value. They just put enough people in the units to make it livable. •The resorts are set up to make money on everything. Transport, restaurants, hotels, shops, and then of course lift tickets. This is the business model, the company doesn't/can't survive on day passes and Epic passes. •A primary reason looked over here for why Vail Resorts has properties all over the world (many recently bought in the Midwest and East Coast of the US) is because they are attempting to bring a new crowd to the larger, more expensive, and more inclusive resorts of the West.
Tim Leon (6 days ago)
Austria is cheaper but bigger, more modern and way better Overall
John Tiller (6 days ago)
You not being ripped off, you are being foolish. Go Ski Japan at $50 max lift pass at day a world quality ski fields ( Like the 98 olympic venue ), If you are going to pay $200 a day for a pass, You will be saving $150 a day. If you go for a 2 weeks, you save over $2000. Why not get a cheap fight and hit and Japan powder. With Air B&B you can get modest accommodation ( $50 ) close to the resorts. I would say you would save money on a 2 week overseas ski trip then 2 weeks at Vail.
ParabolicCat (6 days ago)
Video was interesting until the 'global warming' BS started. The channel is best when it deals with facts and numbers, not conspiracy theories and scare mongering. Please stick to just hard info in the future without pushing some agenda.
1983 (7 days ago)
This video sounds like an excuse for some North American ski resorts that rip off skiers. IN MY OPINION resorts like Vail or Whistler are a classic rip off. Vail obviously wants to make their resorts exclusive for rich people - you can see that not only in lift pass price but also hotel prices and level/prices of restaurants/food in town. No place for people with lower income here. At the same time same level or better resorts in Europe charge 50/60 EUR for a day pass, how do they survive ? And there are also other North American resorts that charge 70-80$ a day, maybe their infrastructure is older but they still work and survive. Seems like in the future skiing will become an exclusive sport for people that will be able to afford it.
m00semanus (7 days ago)
Wendover is the new CGP Gray
Steve Fink (7 days ago)
Why does public ridership on trains work well for ski resort area's? Hmmmm?
Matthew Helingoe (7 days ago)
will2114 (7 days ago)
aye shoutout Wildcat and Attitash 10:10 ski the east baby
PikachuIce (8 days ago)
I have a 16 year old friend who teaches at whistler. He says pay is 1000 every 3 days
Guillaume Pons (8 days ago)
In France it s 300$ a week with 10 Times better slopes
BonBonAdios MiaEVERGLOW (8 days ago)
Disliked for the unnecessary political climate change fear mongering
Demi (8 days ago)
I pay €900,- for flying to chambery, bus transfer, accomodation, ski pass, ski rental and food. And i go the the biggest ski area in the world for a week ~ laughs in european
I AM The Russian Troll (8 days ago)
Ski Culture Died with Mega pass. Plus the youth cares about the environment, only a matter of time before they realize ski lifts and snow-making are some of the most energy demanding systems in any recreational activity. Unsustainable over-leveraged mega pass conglomerates will be squeezed, and backcountry skiing explodes. Like I said, Ski culture died with mega pass. its a good thing, get some skins and enjoy the real gift of the mountains.
Alexander Cv (8 days ago)
Longtime skier here, once i tried ski touring i never looked back to resorts.
Noganay Poganay (5 days ago)
Alexander Cv what is it
Minibray (9 days ago)
I mean they make summer money too with Vail having mountain biking and a whole adventure thing with ropes courses and zip lines.
misterfunnybones (9 days ago)
Whistler's snowmaking system cost 60 million dollars. 20 million from the owe-lympics, so taxpayers subsidize snow. https://m.piquenewsmagazine.com/whistler/whistlers-60-million-snowmaking-system-opens-the-slopes-saves-the-holidays/Content?oid=2542381
Michael (9 days ago)
What a load of propaganda crap, probably funded by the resorts. These resorts are making a mad amount of profit, that's why they're expensive. Because they can be. There are plenty of examples of places charging far less and offering their workers much better compensation.
dasche (9 days ago)
209 $, is 4 days skiing in real mountains in austria and we have high taxes haha :D
Michael Banks (9 days ago)
Vail and skiing in North America in general is a rip. Saalbach Hinterglemm (which is more than twice the size of Vail) in Austria sells adult peak season all day tickets for Eur 65 with huge discounts for multi day passes.
David Harrison (9 days ago)
I did a season as a lifty for Vail resorts and it was a great time! No money but i could ride my snowboard right to building i lived in.
kassh (10 days ago)
mitch jones monkaW 11:03
C Elizabeth (10 days ago)
You know what I hate? Subscription boxes
L3_SPAMM (10 days ago)
RIP Skiing/ snowboarding
L3_SPAMM (10 days ago)
Do one on steroids
themegot55 (10 days ago)
Skiing in the US is a rip off! A day pass in a common US ressort is around $150... That's the price for a whole week in most of the largest resorts in the Alps. Usually 10x bigger than whatever resort in the US... Come on...
Dave Hansen (10 days ago)
How can you talk about the business side of the ski industry without mentioning Grouse Mountain, Snoqualmie Pass, Mt Hood or even Bachelor. Places serving huge populated areas and within less than an hours drive, day or night? Good example of fake news, dedicated to Vail, Aspen and ? (destination resorts). Iguana
Billy Aungpe (10 days ago)
Climate Change: Im about to end this man's whole career.
Elvin Chateauvert (10 days ago)
seasonal jobs are a big part of resorts but since the emergence of lift access mountain biking this seasonality of the income and work becomes less drastic
SFPToyashi (10 days ago)
13.50$ an hour really isn't bad. Especially for an entry level job with plenty of benefits and free ski passes.
Loin (11 days ago)
This video is the best excuse to watch footage of beautiful mountain areas
Elliott larson (11 days ago)
Here's a video idea: Oman's oil problem
Mariano Patino-Paul (11 days ago)
Hundreds of the employees at the resorts are Latin American high class teens, who see it as a good option to have a cultural exchange, while making money, partying and living alone far from their parents during the south hemisphere Summer
Jo Do (11 days ago)
Just go Backcountry skiing and you dont have to put up with all the struggles.
Pera Kojot (12 days ago)
Lol, what a joke, Les Trois Vallées in France, 183 lifts, 335 slopes, over 600km of pistes and daily rate (from 8:30am to 5pm btw.) in high season of 63 euros or 67 USD. Are ski passes in US justifiably expensive??? They are a fucking joke.
Blackdavid2011 (12 days ago)
Working in a ski resort in Europe you'd be making a shitload of money, even as a waiter. I was once working a season as a servicer for snowboards and skis, made 2500€ a moth, one day off, free ski pass and free hotel. At Laax Switzerland, there the ski pass is about 100€ a day!
Elon61 (12 days ago)
200$ ?? wtf. the largest ski resort in the world, Les trois vallee, in france charges 50 euros for a day for the entire domain..
WatchForIce (12 days ago)
Gosh, ya know what. I've been asking myself... "Why hasn't Wendover Productions done a video on Ski Resorts..." /s So out of touch...
Tomas Campos (12 days ago)
You should do one on starlink vs 5G
Mark L (12 days ago)
Buy up all the resorts and triple the lift price. Boom done!
Andrew Overy (12 days ago)
I feel like you forgot about a giant component here: Ski Lessons and meals. For vail at least (where I teach) over 50% of the ticket price of ski lessons goes straight to profit, and the exponential increase in cost of food without and increase in quality or worker pay over the years suggests that a decent chunk of the epicburger goes straight to profit. One thing about housing is that the issue isn't supply and demand, rather it is that Vail and Aspen explicitly cultivate a brand image of luxury and have gentrified their local towns. Finally, your analysis of public transportation systems are a bit shallow here. While the internal towns do have very good bus systems, the surrounding areas (where most employees live nowadays) are awful.
Ángel PV (12 days ago)
Confirm lack of snow in Europe 2019-2020 ? Confirmed Normal temperature now in Madrid: 8/-2 ºC Now in Madrid : 15/5 ºC Why is that hot now in Europe and without snow? Help
Harry Moxon-horne (13 days ago)
technopoptart (13 days ago)
this is gross and horrifying. ski resorts need to be shut down x______x the heck
William Morey-Baker (13 days ago)
Vail is EVIL. Truly.
Hans (14 days ago)
My county is in this video! :D WOW!
NightSkyOutLaw90 (14 days ago)
Would love to see one about how biking became an integral part of the Dutch lifestyle.
sannehombroek (1 day ago)
NightSkyOutLaw90 this video sort of covers that! https://youtu.be/zq28fU2AuMU
korv (14 days ago)
in Romme, Sweden it costs about 25 dollars for one day
Zach Jones (15 days ago)
Death By Internet c: (15 days ago)
yo these are southern ontario apartment rental cost dawg. gotta love foreign investment in all yer building people live in :lD
Bin Zhang (15 days ago)
Interesting to know how resorts are operated. But I would like to point out that all the facts listed in this video cannot justify the high ticket price. First, other ski places around the world are not as expensive as their American counterparts. Japan and Australia are both wealthy countries but the lift tickets are generally much more affordable. Second, ski tickets in USA in the past(10+ years ago) were much more affordable than today. Even high school students can easily afford a ski trip. As regards to the question of why the ski resorts are becoming so expensive in the USA, I believe it is just another aftermath of inflation caused by QE(quantitative easing)
Adil Chauhan (15 days ago)
Yes, poor Vail. They only made over $200 million.
Steven Banks (15 days ago)
very good report and beautiful drone photography
Danx Tgcad (15 days ago)
Climate change and global warming is not real.
13zombie (15 days ago)
Hello from vail!!!
K (15 days ago)
samdenby1 GotPvP Admin. Good times
Max Porter (15 days ago)
Do they really make money on season passes? I usually get a basic ikon with a student discount and I would be paying 4 to 5 times as much if I bought day passes. Do enough people buy them and not use them to offset people like me?
borek772 (15 days ago)
Ok, can you explain how resorts in Austria can pay their employees EU wages with EU benefits & EU taxes, run 30+ modern gondolas (not the embarrassing, ancient shit shown in the video) with 100% snowmaking coverage and 100+km of pstes still charge only 50-56€/day?
arturo martinez (16 days ago)
Do a video on landscaping companies in north usa. We have to get very creative to survive winter. And it's not just the landscapers but suppliers, mechanic shops, equipment dealerships and the struggle to hire and train new workers every spring. The logistics are a nightmare in my field.
Adam Dubec (16 days ago)
7:45 Jasná, Slovakia :D
Yelrebmikkim (16 days ago)
An Australian Skii Resort (Selwyn) was destroyed over the summer bushfires. There are reports that some of the resorts used snow machines to try and defend against the fire.
Ultra B (16 days ago)
As someone who has worked a season in Aspen and go there annually . They are extremely nice to workers. Also free lift tickets are a blessing. Also, vail is a tumor on the industry of skiing and literally everyone wants them to fuck off.