By Spencer Wilson

VAIL, Colo. (CBS4)– Vail Resorts is planning to increase the minimum wage for employees. In a letter to investors, the company said it will spend $175 million to increase the wage to $20 an hour for all of its resorts in North America.

Vail Resort (credit: CBS)

“I think this really marks a new direction for our company, especially under Kirsten’s leadership as she steps into her role as CEO,” Jamie Alvarez, Director of communications said.

“That direction is that we want to fully deliver on our mission.”

The mission statement loosely boiled down to treating employees well, and expecting employees to treat customers well in return and create a good atmosphere for guests.

The plan is to increase wages and restore staffing levels to pre-pandemic levels by the time the 2022-2023 season begins.

Vail Resports Headquarters in Broomfield

Vail Resorts Headquarters in Broomfield (credit: CBS)

“When you think about employee experience, wages are a huge part of that,” Alvarez added. “So is housing, so is leadership and career development. So is HR support that you receive both in resort and in corporate.”

You can read the full letter here, which includes details on their promises to employees.

Still, some people are not excited by this effort to bump pay, with some commenters online saying that is too much money for the job, while others saying that’s still not enough to survive in resort towns.

“I feel like they’re just keeping up with the issue rather than getting ahead of it,” Former Vail Resort Employee Mark Johnson said. Johnson worked as a snowboarding instructor at Keystone within the last few years.

(credit: CBS)

“I was making 20 and it still wasn’t enough for what would have counted for enough in Summit County, by and large,” Johnson explained.

He believed the efforts made by Vail Resorts would be noticeable, but would not accomplish the goal of retaining employees and beefing up staff.

Still, Vail Resorts is hoping to curb a growing negative public perception with a pay bump for a large chunk of their workforce, and it knows there are issues to resolve.

“I think a lot of people were experiencing challenges either related to the pandemic or not. This investment is really a signal to both our employees, but also to our guests that we are committed to driving towards our mission next season,” Alvarez said.

CBS4 was also provided with a statement from the new CEO of Vail Resorts.

“Our employees’ passion is what makes our resorts so special and our guests’ experience memorable,” said Kirsten Lynch, CEO of Vail Resorts.

Spencer Wilson