Mar 24, 2021 - News
Vail Resorts unveils cheaper Epic ski pass for next season
A skier at Vail Resorts
Courtesy of Vail Resorts.

An Epic ski pass will cost 20% less next season, Vail Resorts revealed Tuesday, a strategic move designed to undercut competitors.

Why it matters: The majority of skier visits now come from pass holders and two major resort companies —Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Company — battle for the lucrative market share.

  • Moreover, selecting a ski pass is like picking a Hogwarts house — it defines you, determines your ski season friends and offers clues to your shred cred.

What's new: Broomfield-based Vail Resorts opened pass sales for the 2021-22 season Tuesday with what they are calling a "price reset" that puts it well below the cost of Alterra's Ikon pass.

  • An Epic Pass that covers 70 resorts worldwide — including Vail and Whistler Blackcomb — is now $783, down from $979 this season, with the more restrictive Epic Local Pass at $583.
  • The Ikon Pass that covers 44 destinations worldwide — including Steamboat and Jackson Hole — is still $999 ($899 for renewals). The most basic pass increased to $729 ($649 for renewals).

An alternative pass appeals to globe-trotters: For $499, The Mountain Collective offers two days at 23 different destinations and this year added a third day at one resort.

Context: Vail Resorts reported a 28% decline in revenue through January, compared to the same time period last season.

  • Skier visits are down 8% with the new pandemic reservation system, but the company announced it won't require reservations next season.

Driving the move: Part of the price cuts, the company said, is to make the elite sport more inclusive and available to a larger customer base.

  • For years, the cost of a lift ticket has skyrocketed. It's $219 for one day right now.
  • A new Epic day pass is $87, or as little as $74 a day with a seven-day pass.

Between the lines: Vail Resorts is betting the price reductions will generate more revenue through additional pass sales and skier loyalty.

  • "Today, as we double down on our pass strategy by dramatically reducing our pass prices, we are excited to make it easier for everyone to move into a pass," CEO Rob Katz said in a statement.

The other side: Colorado's Arapahoe Basin is taking a different approach by capping its season passes and lift tickets to 10% fewer than were sold this season.

  • The move is described to "preserve the culture and vibe" of the independent resort and create a better experience without massive lines.
  • Of note: The Ikon Pass offers seven days at A-Basin.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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