One of the best ways to develop a picture of any company is the SWOT analysis -- a look at a company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Today, we'll focus on Vail Resorts (NYSE: MTN), the company behind the Vail Mountain and Breckenridge resorts, among others.

Strengths

  • Brand -- five of the company's world-class resorts are among the top 10 most-visited resorts in the U.S., and they consistently earn top rankings in industry publications.
  • Significant barriers to entry for would-be competitors.
  • Real estate holdings in highly desirable areas (Colorado, Tahoe, Wyoming, etc.)
  • Loyal customer base (season pass holders increased year over year).

Weaknesses

  • Expensive resort operations (lift services, grooming, trail maintenance).
  • Heavy reliance on mountain segment success (nearly 65% of sales).
  • Dependent upon a seasonal workforce.

Opportunities

  • Increase ownership of existing resorts.
  • Continued real estate development.
  • Continued innovation in resort operations.

Threats

  • Difficult economic environments that strain discretionary spending.
  • Weather -- short winters (or little snow).
  • Reliance on government permits and strict adherence to environmental laws and regulations.
  • Small supply of available property to develop new resorts.

What part of Vail Resorts' SWOT needs more detail? Fill in the blanks by using the comments section below.

Danny Hsia does not own shares of Vail Resorts. Vail Resorts is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick. The Fool owns shares of Vail Resorts. Read about the Fool's disclosure policy here.