Paying $300 seems reasonable for buying a season pass to a ski resort in the United States, but one company that owns several elite resorts in the country is selling their passes for up to $800.
The winter season is a special time for snow lovers around the country. Finding a resort anywhere in the U.S. is relatively simple, and there is one company that owns most of the country’s elite resorts: Vail Resorts.
Vail is an organization that owns some of the best and biggest ski resorts all around the world. They are also known for buying out some of their top-tier competitors.
According to vailresorts.com, they, “own and operate eleven premier resorts,” in the United States alone. These resorts feature four in Colorado.
The Colorado resorts are Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, Keystone and Vail. Vail was the first resort opened by the company in 1962.
They also own Kirkwood, Heavenly and Northstar resorts in Lake Tahoe. Two of the company’s most recent purchases were the Park City and Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah.
Vail also has one resort in Michigan and another in Minnesota.
With all of these resorts under Vail’s banner, they are the definition of the skiing empire. However, these aren’t even all the resorts owned by Vail and with the purchase of Vail’s “Epic Pass,” you can ski at all of these resorts.
The Epic Pass is a pass that allows people who ski frequently at any Vail resorts to attend any other Vail resort and ski there free of additional charge.
Except the additional skiing isn’t free at all.
This next upcoming ski season, the Epic Pass price will be $859 for adults and $449 for children who are between five and twelve years old.
The price increased from $769 for adults and $399 for children from the previous year. That’s a 24 percent increase from the previous season.
One major reason the price skyrocketed was because of their latest purchase of the Whistler Blackcomb Resort in British Columbia, Canada.
Jess Latta, a Lake Tahoe local and Epic Pass holder, has mixed feelings about the prices of passes.
“Its really convenient having an Epic Pass, especially here in Tahoe. The fact that I have to pay an extra $100 to ski at my resorts I grew up on really sucks though,” said Latta. “It’s too hard to even make it to half the resorts that are involved with the pass anyways. I would have to take a full year off of work to ski all of them, probably.”
There is a unique pass that local skiers and snowboarders can get just to ride their own resorts. The pass is called the “Epic Local Pass”.
According to firsttracksonline.com, which is a popular ski and snowboard publishing and informative website, “for $639, receive unlimited and unrestricted skiing or riding at Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin with limited restrictions at Park City, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood, plus a total of 10 days at Vail, Beaver Creek, and Whistler Blackcomb with holiday restrictions.”
That’s about a five percent increase on the price of the pass last season, which was $609. This specific pass will pay for itself if the rider uses it more than three times.
The increased price of the Epic Pass and Epic Local Pass came with the increased price of day tickets as well.
For a person to purchase a day ticket for any of these Vail-owned resorts in the United States for the next winter ski season, they would be spending $124 at all of them, which is a seven percent increase from the previous season’s price of $116.
Andrew Contaxis, is also a Lake Tahoe native and Epic Pass holder, thinks the pass makes more sense than getting individual day tickets.
“Think about it, if you were to go skiing more then 9 to 10 times a season, you are going to get your money’s worth if you have that Epic Pass,” said Contaxis.
For people who only plan on skiing a couple times a year, it makes far more financial sense to avoid Vail Resorts as a whole and find a cheaper resort alternative.
As of mid-April, Vail plans to sell 650,000 Epic Passes, as they did in the previous winter season. That number may increase however, due to the recently acquired Whistler Mountain, though nothing is definite at this time.
Anybody who plans to stay at an elite ski resort this upcoming season will likely be at a Vail Resort, and they’ll have to be ready to spend the big bucks.