By Karen D. Lorentz
The quality of the mountain experience keeps going up, but so does the cost of lift tickets. However, savings go up, too, if you find the right deal and purchase by the right date.
Killington offers several deals that must be purchased by Oct. 15. Why bother? Well, single-day lift tickets will be $94 any day of the week and $96 for peak days, without discounts. However, you could save as much as $43 per day depending on which pre-purchase option you choose.
Age six and under and 80-plus always ski free at Killington. For those aged 7-79, here are some of the early season deals to consider for savings.
The Unlimited and Midweek K-tickets are good deals for those who can commit and pay early. While not quite as good as season pass deals, these rates are great for those who ski or ride about 20 days or less each season.
Unlimited K-tickets are available for adults, ages 19-79, and youth, ages 7-18. These pre-purchased day tickets are valid any day all season long—no blackout dates! Adults pay $63; youths $53. There is a $6 option to mail them to your home (allowing you to skip the ticket window, saving time).
The sweetener: buy seven days’ worth of Unlimited K-tickets and you get a free bonus day (not valid on peak dates). You must purchase them all at the same time ($441 total/adult order) but doing so brings the adult rate to $55.13 per day.
For those who can get out Mondays through Fridays, the Midweek K-tickets (peak holiday periods excluded) are $51 for ages 7-79. There’s no option for a free seventh day. However, they can be upgraded at any ticket window to be used on a weekend/peak day for an additional $27 for ages 19-79 and $17 for ages 7-18.
K-tickets can be used for a group on a single outing or for individuals whenever convenient. You just have to act fast and purchase by Oct. 15.
The Express Card
Here’s where things get interesting.
The Express Card (25 percent off weekend/peak tickets, 50 percent off midweek prices, and each seventh visit free) is $79 for adults age 19-64, $67 for seniors age 65-79; and $61 for youths 7-18.
You’ve got to figure out how much you might ski/ride and do a little math to see which whether the K-tickets or Express Card gets you the best deal. You can also purchase the Express Card after October 15 for a higher rate but K-tickets are not available after the 15th.
Season pass prices also go up after Oct. 15. There are too many options to list here, but for those that want to ski midweek most of the time, the all-ages Midweek pass (17 blackout dates) is $519. Ski just 10 times or less and the Midweek K-ticket is a cheaper choice, but ski 20 times and this one is better. Plus you could order a couple of Unlimited K-tickets and have your season covered. Or, you could go for a Blackout Season Pass for $879 (all ages) and ski 88 days for just $10 a day. You really have to do the math and your homework.
Not good at doing homework or committing?
Killington also has E-tickets with savings for purchase 24 hours or more in advance throughout the season, but they offer different savings and quotas—it’s a dynamic pricing model. Early November and December offer some killer deals, even Christmas Day for $64 if you purchase today. This pricing model is similar to the Liftopia system with a limited number of discount passes available—they sell out quickly!
For more information call 800-621-6867 or visit www.killington.com/site/tickets.
The My Pico pass comes with unlimited access to Pico Mountain, plus three free bonus days at Mount Sunapee any day ($200 value). Purchase-by-Oct. 15 rates are: $439 for adults 19-64; $339 for seniors 65-79; $229 for youths 7-17, and $59 for 80-plus and 6 and under.
Pico is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays (except holiday weeks), but there’s an upgrade pass to ski Killington Tuesday or Wednesday for $129 each day or $209 for both days.
Vermont student passes are also available and have a December deadline. Learn more at Picomountain.com.
Okemo has six different passes that range from top-of-the-line Ultra (includes additional resorts of Mount Sunapee, Crested Butte, and 3-days at Killington) to Millennials (ages 19-29) to Midweek. Value passes (good all season at Okemo and Mount Sunapee with holidays excluded) are $829 for ages 7 and up. Similar Midweek passes are $459 for ages 7-69 and $339 for 70-plus. Passes come with various benefits so check online (http://www.okemo.com/mountain-info/season-passes/) soon. After Oct. 12, rates go up.
Additional lift ticket rates and program information will be released in early October so check the Mountain Times website for further deals.
With the 4.0 The College Pass College, full-time undergraduate and graduate students for the 2015-16
term get unlimited access to four resorts. Cost is $379 by Dec. 15 and $419 after. Check out Killington, Pico and Okemo websites for perks and details. (Additionally, Pico offers a Breakout College pass good at Sunapee and Gunstock, N.H., for $269.)
Quality continues to improve
By inflation and quality measures, the price of skiing today is a good deal. Since the 1950s and ‘60s, when we rode slow lifts and skied on mostly natural snow, Killington, Pico, and Okemo have made hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of improvements.
This year Killington invested over $3 million in various winter upgrades, including snowmaking infrastructure, lift upgrades at Killington and Pico, a Park Pro grooming machine, new ticket scanners, trail work, road pavings, and a $750,000 restaurant remodel in the Grand Hotel. Additionally, the resort made a 20-year purchase agreement with Namaste Solar to invest in renewable energy to reduce its carbon footprint.
Okemo upgraded the Jackson Gore Express Quad with new bubble-covered chairs, added snowmaking capability to two trails, upgraded the Tomahawk terrain park, added a Prinoth 500 Beast groomer, and introduces RFID lift access. Okemo also installed a fixed-grip quad and trail below its South Face area.