Colorado resorts report soaring ski pass sales
Summit County correspondent
Colorado skiers are already committing to a big season next year by purchasing more season passes this spring.
Sales for 2005-06 season passes are up at Vail Resorts by 35 percent over the previous year, company chairman and chief executive officer Adam Aron said last week.
The season pass market is intensely competitive in the Front Range, where the majority of the season passes are sold.
Vail Resorts’ Colorado Pass provides lift access to Keystone, Breckenridge and Arapahoe Basin in Summit County, plus 10 days at either Vail Mountain or Beaver Creek. It costs $349, up from $319 last spring.
Competition comes from rival Intrawest, which owns Copper Mountain in Summit County and Winter Park Resort.
Intrawest competes with Vail Resorts’ deal by offering the Rocky Mountain Pass, a product that provides unlimited access to both its Colorado resorts. This spring, the pass held a price tag of $309; last fall the price was $319.
Copper Mountain director of marketing Ben Friedland said spring sales went “extremely well,” and were up over the previous year, but did not say by what percentage.
Aron pointed out that while Vail Resorts raised its pass price this spring by 10 percent, Intrawest dropped theirs, adding that he was encouraged by the company’s advanced sales despite the pricing disparity from the competition.
“I think the local Colorado market is the pickiest of skiers; that they’d be buying more from us in the face of higher prices from us and lower prices from our competition, that says a lot about our product,” he said.
Intrawest kick-started the season pass price wars between the two companies in 1998 when it rolled out its first combined pass for just more than $200. Vail Resorts responded with the Buddy Pass shortly thereafter, and Colorado residents have enjoyed cheap lift service ever since.
“While we do look very closely at what the competition offers and what their pricing is,” Friedland said, “what we’re most concerned about is offering a great value to our customers.” He noted that Intrawest’s pass prices will go up in the fall.
“We do try to reward those people who purchase their pass in the spring,” he added.
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