Ski pass prices up a bit |

Ski pass prices up a bit

The Aspen Skiing Co. won’t enter the season-pass price war sweeping Colorado resorts, but the prices of some of its most popular passes will stay close to last season’s rates.

“We’re not in the Buddy Pass War. We’re not planning to get in the Buddy Pass War,” said Skico Chief Operating Officer John Norton. “We couldn’t afford to do it.”

Buddy Passes are the discounted season tickets being marketed by Colorado ski resorts that rely on Front Range business. The competition has resulted in big discounts, usually when four people “buddy up” for a combined purchase.

The market-share battle has forced resorts such as Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Mountain and Winter Park to slash prices to between $250 and $500 per person for season passes.

The Skico’s big cut in pricing is in multiday lift tickets aimed at tourists. Its main marketing program for the winter offers multiday tickets for as little as $39 per day when purchased before Dec. 1.

When asked if he thought locals expected similar discounts in passes, Norton said he wasn’t sure, but he hoped they would respond to the deals being offered.

Norton noted that more valley residents will benefit from reduced-price passes this season. For the first time ever, employees of businesses that belong to the chambers of commerce in Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs will receive the same discounted pass prices as members of the Aspen and Snowmass Village resort associations.

Norton said company officials believe they are offering good value for the prices of the passes. The Skico’s four mountains are more easily accessible and the terrain less crowded than the slopes that Denver residents visit, he said.

The Skico stuck to its course of raising pass prices by “modest” amounts for people who take advantage of early-bird discounts.

A sampling of the Skico’s prices for the three most popular passes show price hikes ranging from 3 to 18.5 percent.

“As usual the best value is the bigger pass,” said Norton.

That “bigger pass” is the four-mountain premier pass, which is priced at $979 when purchased through Oct. 2. The price for early-bird purchasers went up only $30 – or 3 percent over last season.

Buyers who aren’t affiliated with a chamber business face a greater increase. The early-bird price, for purchases through Oct. 2, is $1,399 – an increase of 18.5 percent from last season’s $1,179.

The premier pass is the only one priced with the greatest discount if purchased through Oct. 2. Another early-bird discount deadline is Oct. 30.

Buyers of the popular two-day-per-week passes will pay between 5 and 9 percent more this season. For chamber-affiliated buyers, the price goes up $30 to $659 if purchased before Oct. 31.

The one-day-per-week pass is priced at $499 for members of business that belong to any chamber of commerce in the valley, if bought before Oct. 31. That’s a $30 increase.

Special passes are again being offered for Highlands only and Buttermilk only. Those two ski areas have a shorter season, opening Dec. 11 and closing April 2.

Snowmass and Aspen open Nov. 20 and close April 23, creating a season that’s longer than usual.

Buyers who are renewing season passes can purchase via the mail, fax or telephone this year.

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