Seniors score savings on Aspen slopes | AspenTimes.com

Seniors score savings on Aspen slopes

Charles Agar
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” The cost of having fun in Aspen might be high, but not for seniors who want to rip.

At a cost of $259, the “Silver Pass” entitles people 70 and older to unlimited skiing, and the Aspen Skiing Co. deal ranks among the lowest in a statewide comparison of ticket prices for seniors. A similar deal at Vail Resorts costs nearly three times as much ” $659. Sunlight, in Glenwood Springs, has the best deal in the state, charging seniors $10 per day and $40 for a season pass purchased in advance.

Most Colorado ski areas offer discounted multi-day tickets and various pricing plans, but many require advance purchase. Aspen is the only place in the state where someone age 70 or older can walk up to a ticket window any time during the ski season and buy a discounted season pass.

“We’re pretty aware that our Silver Pass is one of the best deals going,” Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle said.

The Skico pricing committee meets every spring to set costs, Hanle said, and senior prices are regularly reviewed.

“We’re not advertising to them particularly,” Hanle said of seniors, adding that stretching the marketing dollar means attracting younger skiers who will become long-time returning guests.

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“We have the highest return rate in the industry,” Hanle said, noting that many generations of families visit Aspen. Senior pricing is not about targeting seniors as a market, but honoring longtime “loyal customers.”

“Most resorts have some sort of senior pricing, that’s just how we decided to do it,” Hanle said.

“It is certainly an important market of ours,” said Kelly Ladyga, spokeswoman for Vail Resorts, which includes Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone.

Before Dec. 21, Vail Resorts offers seniors 65 and older a $299 “Senior Ski 3 Pass,” which is good for unlimited access to Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin.

A senior weekday-only pass (with blackout dates on holidays) for people over 70 is good at all Vail Resorts areas and costs $449. A 10-day over-70 pass costs $339.

“We try to put together products for all our customers based on how long they’re staying, trying to give the best variety and value,” Ladyga said. “We offer five different products for seniors to provide them the best value.”

While seniors are important, Ladyga said, Vail marketers aim for the most “broad demographic.”

“We look at all of the different age demographics as being important,” Ladyga said. “We try to appeal to a broad range.”

Seniors bring their children and grandchildren, Ladyga added, so mountain amenities have to appeal to all ages, including viewing areas where parents and seniors can watch their kids in the terrain park.

Winter Park, a member of the Intrawest group including Copper Mountain and Steamboat, was once free to people over 70, but since the 2004-05 season, Winter Park began charging ” at first just for weekend days, then $31 per day.

“We don’t actually market to seniors; however, we do offer special pricing,” Winter Park spokeswoman Jenn deBerge said.

Today, a ticket for people 70 and older at Winter Park costs $35, but deBerge stressed there are a myriad of options for multi-mountain passes.

Pass options for skiers at all of the Intrawest ski areas, including Winter Park, Copper Mountain and Steamboat Springs, are comparable to Aspen’s deal.

The Rocky Mountain Super Pass, for people over 70, costs $249 and earns unlimited access to Winter Park and Copper Mountain, as well as six days at Steamboat Springs (the adults’ Super Pass is $1,299 ).

Skiers over 70 at Steamboat pay $31 per day, and area officials offer a number of services to seniors, including the “over-the-hill gang,” a ski group open to anyone over 50.

“They get a chance to meet other skiers around their age and take some mellow cruising runs together,” Steamboat’s PR manager Heidi Thomsen said.

There’s no charge for children under 12 who ski with either a paying parent or grandparent.

“Families are very important to Steamboat. We want people to ski well into their 70s and enjoy,” Thomsen said.

At Telluride, any senior over 65 pays $69 for a one-day ticket.

“You can get cheaper lift tickets by purchasing online in advance,” said Tom Watkinson, Telluride’s communications manager.

A season pass at Telluride for seniors costs $399 if purchased in June through July 27 or at a traveling show. From July 28 to Sept. 30, a full pass costs $525. A Telluride senior season pass bought today would cost $725, compared with a $1,650 season pass for adults.

cagar@aspentimes.com