By Karen D. Lorentz
The season-pass landscape has erupted with many options that can be perplexing to skiers and riders trying to decide which pass to take advantage of for an upcoming season.
Multi-mountain passes have driven down the cost of skiing for people who ski or ride more than a few days each winter. By purchasing a pass in the spring for the next season, buyers receive early-bird pricings. For those who want to explore different areas and get a bargain, the multi-resort IKON and the Beast 365 are good choices, especially if a trip out West is on the bucket list.
Dedicated riders and skiers who don’t have the opportunity, desire or wherewithal to take those trips or who prefer their local area may find a local season pass is the way to go and is a good value due to competitive early bird pricing. (Killington and Pico season passes go on sale March 24 at killington.com and picomountain.com respectively.)
Pass promotes a “way of life”
I happened to meet Ed Nordengren from Salem, New Hampshire, when visiting my brother Bob in Snowmass. Ed Neagle, who works for Nordengren, was staying with my brother for the winter and had invited his ski buddy to visit and ski using his IKON Pass.
The two Eds had bought IKON Passes four seasons ago and committed to day trips on weekends throughout the winter, skiing areas in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
“We’d call each other midweek to discuss where we would go that weekend based on conditions and the weather report. If conditions were the same everywhere, we would always go to Killington because it’s the biggest mountain and has the most variety,” Nordengren said, adding they’d “drive up I-89 in a blizzard to try to get to Killington for first chair.”
“That’s the beauty of where we live — we can choose from a variety of areas and the IKON is cost effective. I like the atmosphere each mountain brings; it’s enjoyable to experience that and my wife likes the variety, too. She doesn’t ski but now that Ed is at Snowmass, she rides shotgun and enjoys the different base lodges,” Nordengren said.
In explaining his satisfaction with the pass, Nordengren said that in addition to the exploration of different areas and its cost effectiveness, there’s the convenience of the pass (direct to lift) and the $100 annual savings for renewing it.
Now in his fourth year of his return to skiing (at age 56), Nordengren has “fallen in love with everything about skiing” — from the chairlift rides and exchanging ski stories, to the après-ski conviviality and “dinners at Bob’s ski house” where he felt welcome by people who share skiing as a sport and way of life.
IKON benefits areas, guests
“The IKON pass has proved to be very popular and we are happy that it has been able to introduce new skiers to our resort, as well as brought back many who hadn’t visited in years,” responded Aspen-Snowmass Communications Manager Hannah Dixon when asked how IKON works for ski resorts.
“We see IKON pass holders from all over the country, and even some international visitors. With the number of resorts in Colorado on the IKON pass, we do see a large number of in-state visitors using the IKON Pass as well.
“Overall, the pass has allowed skiers and riders the ability to be flexible and chase good snow. It has enabled and encouraged skiers to travel more and try new resorts,” she added.
Killington spokesperson Kristel Killlary echoed Dixon’s observations. “Not only has the IKON Pass brought new skiers and riders to the resort, but it has also brought back guests who haven’t visited the resort in a long time. In addition, the IKON Base Pass is included when purchasing our Beast 365 All Seasons Pass, which allows our guests the opportunity to explore many different IKON locations throughout the season,” Killary said.
IKON Passes (ikonpass.com) are offered by Alterra Mountain Company, Aspen Skiing Company, Boyne Resorts, POWDR, and various partner areas.
For 2022-23 the IKON (adults: $1,079, $979 renewal) offers access to 50 winter destinations with no blackout dates and up to 7 days at 35 destinations (including Killington and Pico) plus unlimited access at 14 resorts. The Ikon Base Pass ($769, $719 renewal) has blackout dates and offers 13 unlimited destinations and up to five days at 30 areas (including Killington and Pico). A Session IKON ($419) offers 4 days at each of 37 destinations with blackout dates. For more info and benefits like friends and family tickets, check the website: ikonpass.com.
“What other mountain in the East provides its pass holders with 200-plus days of lift-served skiing and riding?!” the resort website asks. “Our winter season actually spans 3 seasons—fall, winter and spring—and often runs from late October into early June.”
The Beast of the East also offers a variety of season pass options.
- The Beast 365 pass is $528-$1,779, and includes unlimited winter lift access at Killington and Pico plus access to 41 additional ski destinations with an included the Ikon Base Pass, and unlimited summer access to the bike park, adventure center, scenic gondola rides, and golf course. Buy with our convenient subscription style monthly payment plan, or pay in full up front.
- Unlimited winter access pass is $59-$1,589, and includes unlimited access to Killington and Pico, discounts on food and beverages, 12 bring a friend 25% off tickets, discounts on lessons.
- Midweek pass, $629-$789, offers midweek and non-holiday access to Killington and Pico mountains, discounts on food and beverages, 12 bring a friend 25% off tickets,
- College pass and Vermont Student passes also available $439-$589.
Epic Pass 2022/23 season
On March 21, Vail Resorts launched its 2022/23 Epic Pass products.
“We will not waiver in our commitment to continuously reinvest in the ski and ride experience with the goal of creating an Experience of a Lifetime for our Pass Holders,” said Ryan Bennett, chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts. “We are making bold investments to ensure we have a fully staffed team of passionate, engaged employees and adding 21 new lifts across 14 of our resorts to help skiers and riders get up and around the mountains faster and easier. We are committed to providing an amazing value and experience to our Pass Holders.”
Vail Resorts recently announced an incremental $175 million investment in its employees, which includes increasing its minimum wage to $20 per hour across each of its 37 North American resorts, and raising hourly wages an average of 30% (see story on page 3). This is in addition to over $300 million the company is investing in the mountain experience next season, with 21 new lifts across 14 resorts to reduce lift line wait times.
Epic for everyone
Vail Resorts is committed to making its passes accessible by providing incredible value, flexibility and choice, in exchange for a non-refundable advance commitment. Skiers and riders who want the lowest price and exclusive benefits can purchase passes now.
All passes come with additional benefits, including:
- Buddy Tickets: Pass Holders who purchase early will receive 10 Buddy Tickets and six Ski with a Friend tickets to bring friends and family to join the ski and ride experience at a significant discount.
- Epic Mountain Rewards: Pass Holders receive 20% off on-mountain food and beverage, lodging, group ski and ride school lessons, equipment rentals and more.
- Epic FlexPay: Pass Holders now have access to easy monthly installments with Epic FlexPay. New for the 2022/23 season, the deferred payment option includes zero down payment, zero interest, and if purchased early, zero payments until September.
- Epic Pass: $841, provides unlimited, unrestricted access to 40 resorts, with additional days at 80 partner resorts.
- Epic Local Pass: $626, provides unlimited, unrestricted access to 29 resorts and days to use at some partner resorts.
- Northeast Value Pass: $514, provides access to 21 resorts across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, including Stowe, Hunter, Mount Snow, Okemo, Wildcat as well as the newest additions to Vail Resorts’ network, Seven Springs, Hidden Valley and Laurel Mountain in Pennsylvania.
- Epic Day Pass: 2-day is $86-$183; 3-day is $126- $267; and 4-day is $162-$347. Early season, Epic Day Passes offer savings up to 65% compared to lift ticket prices.