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Vail Resorts CEO gives up salary, furloughs hourly employees, cuts salaries

Tahoe Daily Tribune
A skier carves a fresh groomer at Heavenly Mountain Resort, one of three ski resorts in the region owned by Vail Resorts.
Courtesy Matt Gibson / LTVA

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz says he has been forced to make tough decisions because of COVID-19, including giving up his salary for the next six months.

Vail Resorts found, because of closing early, the publicly traded company will experience at least $180 to 200 million in lost profits.

In a letter sent to the company’s U.S. employees this week, he laid out the decisions he’s made.

“I have made decisions over the last few weeks that I never could have anticipated in my nearly 30 years working in the ski business,” Katz said in the letter. “I recognize the impact of today’s decisions on you, and I do not take them lightly.”

Locally, Vail Resorts owns and operates Northstar California near Truckee; Heavenly Mountain on Tahoe’s South Shore; and Kirkwood Mountain.

All three resorts employ hundreds of part-time and seasonal workers each year as part of the greater Reno-Tahoe ski industry.

According to published reports, Katz earned roughly $3.6 million in the company’s 2019 fiscal year; of that, roughly $960,000 was his annual salary, with the rest comprising stock awards, benefits, incentives and other compensation.

In addition to giving up his salary, Katz announced the company will be furloughing nearly all of the year-round hourly employees as of April 4 for the next one to two months. They will not receive pay but will continue receiving health benefits.

They are implementing a six-month salary reduction for all salaried employees, including senior executives; eliminating cash compensation for the Board of Directors; suspending 401(k) matches; eliminating the June and September dividends to shareholders; and reducing capital expenditures.

Katz said he knows this is disappointing news for the employees but said, “I am very hopeful that both the economy and travel will return to normal by the time our North American winter season opens eight months from now.”

He also urged the employees to practice health, safety and wellbeing.

This story was first published April 2 by the Tahoe Daily Tribune. NNBW Editor Kevin MacMillan contributed to this report.