Vail skiers, shops glad to see Epic Pass return |

Vail skiers, shops glad to see Epic Pass return

Melanie Wong

VAIL, Colorado ” Thanks to Epic Passes for the entire family, New York skier Matthew Hanley said he hopes to make a couple trips to Vail, Colorado this year.

Hanley, wearing his Epic Pass and gearing up for a day on the mountain at the Golden Peak Lodge, said he was happy to hear that Vail Resorts would be selling the unrestricted, five-mountain ski pass again next season.

“It’s a good thing,” he said. “For us, it makes it tempting to make a second trip up, and we’ll try for a third.”

New Jersey skier Howard Lavin said he used to get one-week or three-day passes for his family.

“It’s great,” he said of the pass. “It’s worked out both from a convenience standpoint and cuts down on the cost.”

Vail Resorts announced that the Epic Pass would return, but that the price had not been determined. The pass cost $579 through Nov. 15, then $629 through Dec. 1, a significant discount in comparison to the price of similar passes in previous years. The Epic Pass does not have blackout dates.

Vail Resorts sold 59,100 Epic Passes through October. The passes went on sale in March.

Epic Pass value may extend into the summer, too, said Adam Sutner, Vail Mountain’s director of sales and marketing.

The mountain could consider offering summer deals to Epic Pass holders, such as a “buy two nights of lodging, get the third free” promotion, he told a town marketing board on Thursday.

Vail has gotten more of the Epic Pass traffic than other resorts closer to the Front Range.

“The brilliance of the Epic Pass play, whether because of luck or foresight, is that it’s changed the way people behave,” Sutner said. “We have disproportionately benefited from the Epic Pass.”

Some businesses said they’re happy to hear the pass is returning, too. The larger crowds, especially of Front Range day skiers, helps fill restaurants during the lunch and apres ski hours.

“We all have a shot of these people going up the street,” said Phil Long, owner of the Red Lion in Vail Village. “I think it’s been great for our business.”

He said he thinks the pass is a smart move by Vail Resorts in a tough economic time.

“It’s Wayne Gretzky economics,” Long said. “Don’t go where the puck is, go where the puck is going.”

Steve Rosenthal, owner of Vail’s Colorado Footwear, said the Epic Pass helps lodges and restaurants more than it helps retailers.

Many retail store owners are still suffering from dropping sales, he said, adding that he still thinks the return of the pass will have a positive impact.

“It’s helped our city and our village, and it’s great, but it hasn’t necessarily helped me personally,” he said. “But I think that it’s helped traffic on the mountain and put more people in the village.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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