Vail merchant pass price set at $829 |

Vail merchant pass price set at $829

Edward StonerVail correspondent

VAIL – Though the merchant pass will cost more this year, Jason Peters said there’s no doubt he’s going to buy it.”Why else would you live here?” said Peters, who works at Pepi’s Sports.But he’s not happy about the increase, especially after seeing Vail Resorts report record profits last week, he said.”A lot of us around here don’t make tons of money,” he said. He’ll be refraining from eating out a few times this winter to help pay for the pass, which he finances through Pepi’s, he said.Vail Resorts announced today it is increasing the price of the merchant pass to $829 for Eagle County. It was $769 last year and $729 two years ago.Employees who work for companies that are in local chambers of commerce qualify for the pass. The passes are good at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin. This year’s blackout dates are Nov. 24-25, Dec. 27-31 and Feb. 17-18. The merchant pass is about half the cost of the full adult pass, which will cost $1,799 this year. The full pass price is up from $1,699 last year. The merchant pass is still a good value despite the cost increase, said Beaver Creek spokeswoman Christina Schleicher.”You still get all the same great benefits, but all pass-product prices have increased this year, which is a reflection of operating costs,” Schleicher said.Ryan Lewis, a bartender at Vendetta’s, said the cost increase is fair. He’ll just put it on his credit card, he said.”I just make the sacrifice,” he said. “That’s why I’m here.”Jason Klein, a manager at Showcase Snowboards/Billabong in Vail, said his store buys passes for full-time employees.”That’s a big bump,” he said of the increase. It’ll end up costing the store quite a bit more money, he said. But, again, there’s really no choice, he said.”The problem is you have to buy the pass,” he said.The pass also includes: A free lesson at Vail or Beaver Creek Nov. 27-Dec. 15, Jan. 13-14 and Jan. 20-21. 50 percent off at Adventure Ridge on Tuesdays through Thursdays, Jan. 9-Feb. 15. Summer lift access. Half-price for kids’ passes. Option to buy four $40 lift tickets, which can be used on blackout dates.Businesses can transfer the passes from one employee to another for $100.A manager or owner from each business must attend a customer service class to get it. The pass costs $999 for employees of businesses that don’t send a person to the customer service classes.The customer service classes will be at the Vail and Avon public libraries and the Edwards Ambulance District throughout November.

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