Vail Resorts provides credit to season pass holders for lost days due to COVID-19
Skiers who used less than five days of their passes will be eligible to receive up to 80% of value for next season
Vail Resorts is offering credits to pass holders whose season was cut short after the resort operator shut down its North American mountains in mid-March because of COVID-19 concerns.
Skiers and snowboarders who bought passes for late spring skiing and used less than five days of their passes before the shutdown will be eligible to receive up to 80% off a pass for next season, Vail Resorts announced Monday.
“Following the difficult decision to close our North American mountain resorts as a result of the unprecedented circumstances surrounding COVID-19, we have been developing a comprehensive plan to address our pass holders’ concerns about the early closure this past season and provide improved coverage for the future,” said Rob Katz, Vail Resorts’ CEO, in a release. “We are committed to providing the best passes in the ski industry and are focused on both honoring the loyalty of our guests and providing peace of mind for next season.”
Vail Resorts also launched a new pass insurance option called “Epic Coverage” that, per its statement, “provides refunds in the unlikely event of certain resort closures (i.e. for COVID-19), giving pass holders a refund for any portion of the season that is lost.”
Season pass holders will receive a minimum credit of 20% toward next season’s pass. For season pass holders who used their pass less than five days, they will be eligible for higher credits up to a maximum of 80% for season pass holders who did not use their season pass at all. For Epic Day Pass, Edge Card and other frequency-based products with unused days remaining, Vail Resorts will provide credits for each unused day up to a maximum of an 80% credit.
The credits will be available to pass holders who purchase their 2020/2021 passes by September 7, 2020.
Mixed reaction from pass holders
Vail Resorts’ decision to overhaul its no-refunds policy in the wake of the unprecedented early shutdown of its North American resorts drew praise from some customers and criticism from others.
Massachusetts snowboarder Dan Peterson, who had purchased an Epic Local pass for his son in expectation of a long spring at Vail and Breckenridge, was disappointed. Breckenridge had touted that it will remain open through Memorial Day.
“For people with zero days on their pass, it feels like the 20% is a fee, where they’re actually charging us for more customer loyalty next season,” he said. “There was still plenty of season left in 2019-2020, and we already provided a loyal donation for that season. We should get a refund, or at least a free pass. 20% is not enough.”
Eric Morrison, an Epic Pass holder who lives in the Washington D.C. area and had emailed the Vail Daily about not being to able to recoup funds from pass insurance after not being able to ski a single day last season, said that the announcement was “a good and reasonable proposal from Vail, perhaps better than expected.”
“We would still prefer 100%,” wrote Morrison in an email, explaining that his family’s annual April ski trip to Vail was always timed with spring break. “We paid April 2019, and did not use our passes at all. Vail had our money, as well as from many others, and therefore used it interest-free for 11 months. Multiply this by what number of unused or partially used passes? So Vail gets going forward, for unused passes, 20% free cash, plus the cost of money, then incrementally down for seldom or minimally used passes.”
“Not bad if I was their banker,” Morrison added.
Plenty of readers on the Vail Daily’s Facebook page were complimentary, with comments ranging from: “Thank you!!! This loyal customer will be back” to “Very generous. Their contracts do not require them to do this.” to “There won’t be a 2020/2021 season.”
Vail Resorts launches ‘Epic Coverage’
Moving forward, future pass holders will have new protections on their passes through a new program.
“We are redefining how we will protect season passes through the launch of ‘Epic Coverage.’ Epic Coverage is free for all pass holders and completely replaces the need to purchase pass insurance. Epic Coverage provides refunds in the unlikely event of certain resort closures (i.e. for COVID-19), giving pass holders a refund for any portion of the season that is lost. Additionally, Epic Coverage provides a refund for personal circumstances covered by our pass insurance for eligible injuries, job losses and many other personal events,” according to the release.
In order to give our pass holders the time they need to make decisions regarding next season, Vail Resorts will be extending the deadline for pass holders to receive spring benefits (including Buddy Tickets) until September 7, 2020.
Alterra Mountain Co., Vail Resorts’ top North American competitor with its popular Ikon Pass, said earlier this month that it will offer pass holders up to $200 for skiers renewing their season pass and offered four, interest-free monthly payments through Aug. 1 with a non-refundable $199 deposit.
John LaConte contributed reporting to this story.