Aspen announces new multi-mountain pass
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado – The Aspen Skiing Co., along with Jackson Hole, Squaw Valley and Alta, announced a new season pass partnership Tuesday that will provide limited access to those four resorts next season.
The Mountain Collective offers the option to ski at eight mountains across four resorts – Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, Snowmass, Alta (Utah), Jackson Hole (Wyoming), Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, both near Lake Tahoe. The two days are per resort, not per mountain, meaning there is a total of 8 ski days included with the pass.
After your two days are used up at a resort, you can purchase lift tickets for 50 percent off thereafter for the remainder of the ski season.
While the partnership is a new idea in terms of four unrelated mountain resorts in four different states coming together on one pass, the value of the pass falls short of what the Epic Pass, Vail Resorts’ multi-mountain season pass, offers. The Epic Pass provides unlimited and unrestricted skiing and snowboarding at eight resorts – Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Kirkwood, Northstar and Heavenly.
Christian Knapp, vice president of marketing for the Aspen Skiing Company, said the Mountain Collective is a product designed for destination guests who are looking to visit one of the resorts for six or more days. And for those guests that want to return to one of the four resorts for a second visit in a season, the pass should be a “no-brainer,” he said.
Knapp said the Mountain Collective is “inherently different” than the Epic Pass. He calls the Epic Pass an incredible value and said the Mountain Collective is not a direct competitor. Knapp said the Mountain Collective more of a “pay-as-you-go model – something Vail Resorts isn’t doing.”
Vail Resorts financial analyst Will Marks, of JMP Securities, thinks the Mountain Collective’s impact on the Epic Pass will be minor, but notes that discounted pass products are the wave of the future within the ski industry.
Vail Mountain specifically markets its product to the right consumer at the right time, adding emphasis that it never wants the mountain to appear to be on sale. It’s a strategy designed to target its desired clientele – high end destination guests.
Aspen undoubtedly targets high end destination guests, too, and when asked whether this product would appear to be discounting the Aspen brand, Knapp said it’s not.
“We want to make sure that people do know that Aspen/Snowmass is approachable,” Knapp said. “This is certainly a way to help plant that message.”
Andy Wirth, CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, which operates Squaw/Alpine, told the Sierra Sun that the concept originated from talks he had last winter with Mike Kaplan, CEO of Aspen Skiing Co., and Jerry Bland, president of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Corporation.
“Today’s announcement was an appropriate and natural follow-up to those conversations,” Wirth said in a Tuesday morning phone interview. “It was very analytical … based on existing market research we used as a guide to gauge a level of interest. I’m quite confident this is a product that has legs.”
Snow.com, a website operated by Vail Resorts, promoted a You Tube video on its Facebook Page around 2:30 p.m. The video, which was posted Tuesday afternoon and appears to be new, points out the benefits of the Epic Pass – 21,896 vertical feet, 23,610 skiable acres, 30 bowls, 160 days every season, no blackout dates, etc.
Social media reaction
The Mountain Collective was generally well received on Facebook Tuesday, although some expressed disappointment in Alta’s continued policy to ban snowboarders from the mountain and criticized the other resorts for partnering with Alta.
“Do snowboarders only have to pay 3/4 of the cost of the pass due to Alta’s continued discrimination?” asked one user.
Knapp said there will be an option to upgrade from Alta to Snowbird because of the affiliation at those two resorts. Snowbird, which is right next to Alta, does allow snowboarding. Snowboarders with the Mountain Collective would be able to purchase a $33 day pass for Snowbird.
Robin Sobieski commented on the Vail Daily’s Facebook page that she still loves her Epic Pass.
“I like paying ahead of time, then it is done, I don’t have to think about it,” she said. “I want to ski anytime without dishing out money each time. I want the ski areas close to my home – short drive, I am on the mountain – not going to the ticket booth – just get right on. …”
Mike Techiera said on Facebook that it depends how a skier uses the different pass products as to whether the passes will compete with each other, adding that the Mountain Collective is a “pretty good mix of resorts though.”
Matt Jones calls the Mountain Collective a great deal – “actual steep skiing at all those places, no comparison in terms of steep terrain.”