By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
Hurry, hurry, get your deal on a 2016-17 ski pass. I really mean hurry because the best deals on season passes are expiring.
The biggest, best innovation is that more and more season passes incorporate flexible opportunities to ski multiple ski resorts, and now, more encompass deals across the country, so you aren’t locked in to, say, New England or the Rockies.
One of the most sensational values in the ski industry is Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass™ which affords unlimited and unrestricted skiing at 13 resorts including world-class destinations like Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Park City and Heavenly in the US plus Australia but is the only multi-resort pass to offer three to six days access to European skiing and snowboarding (depending upon the resort): Les 3 Vallees, Paradiski and Tignes-Val D’Isere in France, Skirama Dolomiti Adamello Brenta in Italy, 4 Vallees in Switzerland, and Arlberg in Austria. Even for skiers who are not based in the West, the Epic Pass pays for itself in just over five days of skiing or snowboarding. Find out more at EpicPass.com).
While Vail Resorts’ Epic pass may be one of the most incredible deals around, unless you are a Northeasterner with the ability to fly regularly, the pass that makes the most practical sense for skiers who really like to explore is the M.A.X. Pass, which provides five days of skiing at 32 mountains across the continent, from Alaska to Maine (10 more than last year), with no blackout dates for $649 (the price goes up by $50 on Oct. 12). What is more, you can buy a season pass at one of the participating resorts, such as Okemo in Vermont (new this year!), where you would have unlimited access, and buy a M.A.X. Pass Add-on ($299)to get the five days each at the other 31 resorts (the pass pays for itself with a three-day visit). In this way, you can make regular visits to Okemo and also have a trip to Crested Butte (Okemo’s sister resort), or Copper Mountain in Colorado. Other mountains on the list: Pico, Loon, Mount Sunapee, Snowshoe, Mountain Creek and Blue Mountain in the East; Mount Batchelor and Alyeska (Alaska) in the West. What is more, passholders also get 20% discounts on lodging, even the extra discount off special deals.
M.A.X. Pass details are spelled out at www.themaxpass.com.
Yet another is The Mountain Collective which gives you two days skiing at 14 different major resorts with no blackouts (plus discounts on lodging) for $409/adults, $99/child (12 and under). The pass also offers 50% off additional days.
The Rocky Mountain Super Pass Plus gives you unlimited access to Winter Park Resort, Copper Mountain and Eldora Mountain Resort in Colorado, plus Steamboat (6 days), Crested Butte (3 days) and Alyeska Resort, Alaska (3 days), as well as 7 days access to international ski destinations including Mt. Ruapehu, Cardrona Alpine Resort, Tomamu, Alts Bandai, and Nekoma. This pass also provides other benefits, including discounts on 20 Friends & Family tickets (10 for Winter Park Resort and 10 for Copper Mountain), and discounts on activities (like tubing), retail purchases, merchandise, lodging, and food and beverage (see www.winterparkresort.com).
Here’s another twist: you can buy a season pass at Bolton Valley, near Burlington Vermont, and for no extra charge (it used to be $50 extra), can have the benefits of the Freedom Pass
Ski areas are offering all sorts of innovations – Millennial passes (Stratton Mountain extended the years for eligibility from 18 to 32 (up from 29), while Mount Snow extended the purchase date for the discounted season pass to Dec. 15)
Take note: there are enormous number of packages and ski-and-stay deals online leading up to the season.
New England resorts, especially, are hoping to make up for losses due to last year’s bad weather – but are looking forward to better weather conditions (at least normal) this year, plus have made improvements in snowmaking and facilities to “weatherproof” .
Lock them in now.
Here are more details:
Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass
Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass not only gives unlimited access to 13 resorts including world-class destinations like Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Park City and Heavenly in the US plus Australia but is the only multi-resort pass to offer three to six days access to European skiing and snowboarding (depending upon the resort): Les 3 Vallees, Paradiski and Tignes-Val D’Isere in France, Skirama Dolomiti Adamello Brenta in Italy, 4 Vallees in Switzerland, and Arlberg in Austria.
The 2016-2017 Epic Pass offers unlimited access to the Vail Resorts in Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Park City in Utah (which with the merger of Canyons is now the largest ski resort in North America); Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe; Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin, Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan; and just for good measure, so you can ski in summer, Perisher in Australia. The Epic Pass allows pass holders to visit resorts as they choose, each with its own personality and distinct experience, combining unique terrain and traditions with Vail Resorts’ renowned service and unmatched resort improvements. The Epic Pass is available at EpicPass.com ($829/adult until the next deadline is Oct. 9).
“There is nothing in the ski industry today that can compare to the value of the Epic Pass,” said Kirsten Lynch, chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts. “The value of the Epic Pass is giving skiers and snowboarders the flexibility to ski when they want and the choice to ski where they want, and the variety of experiences our resorts offer, whether it’s the iconic slopes of Vail or Park City, or the grandeur and tradition of Europe, which should be on the bucket list of every skier or snowboarder. Whether you ski five days or 100, no pass is tailored to the way skiers and snowboarders actually want to access the best mountains in the world like the Epic Pass.”
That access now includes four of Europe’s most iconic destinations. France’s largest ski areas, Les 3 Vallees, Paradiski and Tignes-Val D’Isere offer a unique playground to skiers and snowboarders from all over the world, accessing five glaciers, 391 ski lifts and over 800 miles of marked runs for all ability levels within a 30-mile radius. The three areas combine high-altitude skiing guaranteeing quality snow from November to May with stunning view of Mont Blanc and a 360-degree panorama of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps. (6 days of free skiing with 2 days of skiing at each resort area)
South of the Alps, nestled amongst some of the most beautiful mountain peaks in the world such as Brenta Dolomites and Adamello (11,666 feet), is some of the best skiing in Italy. Skirama Dolomiti Adamello Brenta is home to 150 lifts and 236 miles of ski slopes that that make up acclaimed resorts such as Madonna di Campiglio and Pinzolo in Val Rendena; Folgarida-Marilleva, Peio and Tonale in Val di Sole; Ponte di Legno, Andalo-Fai della Paganella, Monte Bondone and Folgaria-Lavarone. The winter offering is enriched by the high-quality cuisine and the exclusive “Italian style.” (3 days of free skiing)
Verbier, part of the 4 Vallees ski area, is the largest resort in the Swiss Alps, is acknowledged as one of the premier “off piste” resorts in the world, and is home to a number of professional freeride competitions. Above and beyond this reputation, Verbier is well-known internationally for its electrifying, cosmopolitan nightlife, and the resort is proud of its legendary après-ski and its lively clubs. While skiers and snowboarders from all over the world rave about this off-piste paradise and fun evenings, families also appreciate the resort’s social atmosphere and family-friendly offerings. (5 consecutive days of free skiing)
For decades, the mountain range between Tyrol and Vorarlberg, home to Arlberg, has been a highly sought-after metropolis for international ski and snowboard enthusiasts. Arlberg is widely considered the cradle of modern skiing and in December 2016, thanks to the opening of four new chair lifts, it will be Austria’s largest linked ski area. It is also where champions, athletes from Ski Club Arlberg have garnered an incredible 83 medals at various Olympic Games and World Championships. (3 days of free skiing).
Less expensive variations of the Epic Pass include:
Epic Local Pass ($609) offering unlimited, unrestricted skiing or riding at Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton and Wilmot Mountain with limited restrictions at Park City, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood. The Epic Local Pass also includes a total of 10 days at Vail and Beaver Creek with some holiday restrictions
Epic 4-Day™: A convenient option for a short ski trip. Save 35 percent versus individual lift tickets and receive a total of four unrestricted days valid at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, and Arapahoe Basin, plus four free days at Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton or Wilmot Mountain. $399 for adults and $219 for children (ages five to 12.)
See www.snow.com for more Vail Resorts info
The Mountain Collective
The Mountain Collective gives you two days skiing at 14 different major resorts with no blackouts (plus discounts on lodging) for $409/adults, $99/child (12 and under). The pass also offers 50% off additional days.
The 14 resorts are some of the best names on the continent plus three international destinations: Alta/Snowbird, Aspen Snowmass, Jackson Hole, Mammoth, Revelstoke, Ski Banff/Lake Louise/Sunshine, Ski Queenstown/Coronet Peak/The Remarkables, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Sun Valley, Taos, Telluride, Thredbo, Whistler Blackcomb. In addition, it provides two days each at 2 days each at Valle Nevado in Chile (in summer), Hakuba Valley in Japan and Chamonix in France. (800-705-6286, https://mountaincollective.com/)
Here is a twist on the multi-mountain pass: When you buy your season pass to Bolton Valley near Burlington, Vt., the Freedom Pass is included at no extra charge (there used to be a $50 surcharge), giving unlimited visits with no blackouts to Bolton Valley and up to three days skiing at each of the 12 other ski areas, spanning the country from Alaska to Maine, for a total of 36 free lift tickets. These include Magic Mountain in Londonderry, VT (which is just being acquired by a group of locals who are making millions of dollars of new investment), Granite Gorge on the Keene/Roxbury Line in southwestern NH is close to Keene State College; Black Mountain in Jackson, NH. Buy your Bolton Valley All Access Season Pass* before prices go up after Sept. 30. (www.boltonvalley.com/tickets-passes-rentals/seasons-passes/Freedom-Pass).
Need help planning? Ski.com – an agency that can tell you where you can use your boarding pass the afternoon you arrive for free skiing for the rest of the day; where to go for an on-mountain dining experience (Bavarian dinner at Keystone, Heavenly’s Saturday night gourmet meals with wine), which are the best for families, where you can take advantage of free guided snowshoe tours (Copper Mountain), or learn about the new Amtrak service to Winter Park from Denver’s Union Station (accessible by light rail form Denver International Airport – could work for outbound trip, trickier for inbound), and all the umptium details that go into booking a ski vacation.
You can book online at more than 120 different ski resorts (4000 different lodging options); search by the top resorts (currently trending: Vail, Aspen/Snowmass, Breckenridge, Deer Valley Resort, Beaver Creek, Steamboat Springs, Park City, Jackson Hole, Telluride, Whistler Blackcomb, and Zermatt) or by preference (such as budget, luxury, private homes, ski in/out, or best sellers). Or you can search by your interest. They can book every aspect of the ski trip including air, transfers, dining experiences, lessons, rentals, children’s programs.
The site offers featured lodging and lift ticket deals, plus thousands of ski vacation package deals in the system/ You can call or chat online and browse ski vacation deals by visiting our all deals page or check out our top affordable resorts and lodging.
If you are unsure of where to go, you can call, chat or email with its 65+ knowledgeable Mountain Vacation Specialists or use a new, intuitive Resort Finder tool. If you’re looking for deals, visit the Deals page or ask one of the Mountain Vacation Specialists about current discounts and promotions. After determining where you want to go and stay, Ski.com can also help you book the rest of the package, including flights, ground transportation, rentals, lift tickets, lessons, activities and all the elements of a vacation. You can book the complete ski vacation through Ski.com over the phone, in a live chat, using our online booking engine, or via email. You can also check out guides and tips on theSki.com Blog and the Ski.com Packing List.
Using Ski.com is free, can save you time researching on your own because it is a one-stop shopping place; it can save money because of negotiated discounts and deals. (800-908-5000, 970-429-3099, ski.com).
Vermont Resort Season Passes 2016-17
Season Passes at Vermont ski resorts make for one of the best deals around for skiers and snowboarders. Many resorts offer special preseason discounts. Here are this year’s highlights and pricing deadlines for Vermont resort season passes:
Bolton Valley- Pricing Deadline: Oct. 31. The Ski Bum Pass- $179 for anyone ages 18-25 and full time college students. All passes, which include the Freedom Pass, can be found at www.boltonvalley.com
Bromley Mountain- Pricing Deadline, Oct. 15. Super Value Pass– $525 – Ski Bromley 7 days a week, non-holiday with the Super Value Pass, www.bromley.com.
Burke Mountain- Pricing Deadline: Oct.10. The Judge- $899, valid at both Burke Mountain and Jay Peak Resort, skiburke.com .
Jay Peak Resort- Pricing Deadline: Oct.10. Jay Adult Season Pass- $779, Ski or ride Jay Peak every day of the week, jaypeakresort.com
Killington Resort- Pricing Deadline: Oct. 15. Adult Unlimited-$1,289, Killington’s adult unlimited pass gives unrestricted access to the Beast all season long; M.A.X.ify your Killington Unlimited Season Pass: Add-on 30 resorts, 5 days at each, 0 blackout days – starting at only $299 for adults, and $199 for youths, www.killington.com.
Mad River Glen- Pricing Deadline: Oct. 15. Adult Full Season Pass- $771; A free season pass is available for kids 12 and under with the purchase of a Family Mad Card or any Adult Season Pass. The Family Mad Card-$209. Get 3 transferable day tickets good any time during the ski season plus free season passes for all kids who are ages 12 and under. Receive $5 off any additional full day lift ticket purchased throughout the season, www.madriverglen.com.
Magic Mountain: Pricing Deadline: Oct. 31. Couples Unlimited Pass-$858. Magic offers 2 passes for couples living at the same address at a discount this season, www.magicmtn.com
Middlebury College Snow Bowl- Pricing Deadline: Nov. 30. Adult Season Pass-$420. Ski or snowboard at the Bowl all season long for under $500; Student Season Pass- $310. (7th grade through college), www.middleburysnowbowl.com.
Mount Snow- Pricing Deadline: Dec. 15. Drifter Pass-$399, offers unlimited access, with no blackout dates for those aged 18-29, www.mountsnow.com.
Okemo Mountain Resort- Pricing Deadline: Oct. 10. Peak Pass -$1,359 provides skiing and snowboarding every day at Okemo with no restrictions. M.A.X. Pass Add On,s $299 until Oct.12, www.okemo.com
Pico Mountain: My Pico, My Way.-$449, Get unlimited access to Pico Mountain all season long for under $500, www.picomountain.com.
Quechee Ski Area: Family of 4 Season Pass-$625, www.quecheeclub.com
Smugglers’ Notch Resort- Pricing Deadline: Oct.31. Adult Season Pass-$609, www.smuggs.com.
Stowe Mountain Resort- Pricing Deadline: Nov. 6. Young Adult Pass (19-34) $599, www.stowe.com
Stratton Mountain Resort- Pricing Deadline: Oct. 10. Strattitude Pass -$329, valid every day with no blackout dates for ages 18-32 (the age raised from 18-29), www.stratton.com
Sugarbush Resort . For20s All Mountain 7 Pass- $469, features unlimited skiing and riding at Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen for ages 19-29; Mt. Ellen 7 Plus Pass- $985, Ski Mount Ellen plus 5 days at Lincoln Peak (anytime) and enjoy spring skiing at Lincoln Peak after Mt. Ellen closes. www.sugarbush.com
Suicide Six- Pricing Deadline: Nov. 30. Adult Season Pass-$449, valid every day. All season passes at www.woodstockinn.com.
See SkiVermont.com for more info.
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