Arapahoe Basin cuts ties with Vail Resorts, unlikely to join Ikon Pass | VailDaily.com

Arapahoe Basin cuts ties with Vail Resorts, unlikely to join Ikon Pass

Management open to new partnerships but wants to avoid 'same parking challenges'

The season pass line nearly rivaled the lift lines during opening day at Arapahoe Basin on Oct. 21, when roughly 3,000 skiers and snowboarders descended on the tiny resort for the official start to the 2016-17 ski season in North America.

With parking now a perennial problem, Arapahoe Basin has decided to end its partnership with Vail Resorts and its popular Epic Pass. It also looks unlikely that the resort will attempt to correct this problem by joining another large resort suite like that offered in the Ikon Pass.

“We’re willing to talk with anyone,” COO Alan Henceroth told the Vail Daily on Monday. “Every company or group is potentially a candidate, but we’re really looking for the right kind of partnership. If we are going to have another one, we’re going to make sure it fits in the way that we can best manage this business and not get back into the same parking challenges we had before.”

Henceroth said while the resort has made headway in encouraging carpooling, off-site parking and use of the Summit Stage, it still needs to do more.

“A common comment people have is we just need to build another parking lot — the problem is, there’s not room for another parking lot, so we have to come up with something else,” Henceroth said. “And we’re a long ways off from a $100 million concrete parking garage.”

Profits unclear

Henceroth has worked for A-Basin since before the original pass partnership with Vail Resorts was inked in 1997. Keystone, Arapahoe Basin and Breckenridge were owned by one company, and that company merged with Vail Resorts.

“In the process of that merger being approved, the Department of Justice forced a divestiture of A-Basin, so we were sold out of that larger resort group,” Henceroth said.

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Arapahoe Basin was sold to a Canadian company but has maintained a pass partnership with Vail Resorts ever since. While the partnership has helped the resort attain unprecedented popularity, Henceroth said even he is not sure how profitable the Epic Pass consumer has been for A-Basin.

When asked if Epic Pass holders have been good spenders, “that’s a good question,” Henceroth responded. “I don’t know if I really know the answer to that.”

Nevertheless, “We’re going to find out a lot of things here,” Henceroth added.

Henceroth writes the popular “Al’s Blog” with news and terrain updates and said feedback has been mostly positive since the news broke on Monday morning.

“We had a lot of feedback today,” Henceroth said. “Not everybody loves it — there’s some people that really want us to stay on the Epic Pass, they’re committed to being Epic Pass holders — but overwhelmingly the feedback we’ve gotten has been positive.”

Character and crowds

Henceroth said regardless of what happens, A-Basin will always be focused on character.

“It’s really important for us to preserve the culture and the vibe of this place,” he said. “A lot of people really love hanging out here and that’s both employees and guests, and we want to continue to do that, and we kind of think we need to make a change if we’re going to be able to do that.”

While partnerships with other resorts are still unclear, one thing certain is A-Basin will put its own season pass up for sale soon.

The price has not yet been revealed.

“We’re going to start with an A-Basin season pass,” Henceroth said. “Our passes are going to go on sale here in two or three weeks, and we’re really hopeful that some of those die-hard A-Basin skiers that happen have a pass that are in the Epic Pass family, we hope we convert quite a few of them.”