Copper, Vail duke it out over pass sales |

Copper, Vail duke it out over pass sales

SUMMIT COUNTY – The ski resorts are offering sweet deals with bonus packages in what’s likely to shape up as a knock-down-drag-out for skier visits, but the consumer will benefit from next season’s pass deals.

With the addition of Winter Park to Intrawest’s management portfolio, Summit County skiers will be able to take advantage of twice the terrain. A Copper Mountain and Winter Park season pass is on sale for $319 – $299 for renewal passes from either resort.

The resorts also are extending a financing option in a bid to capture early commitments from skiers. With the sale price ending May 4, skiers can plunk down $49 now and have the balance charged to a credit card in August.

Vail Resorts came out of the gates with a similar deal – with bonus options. The Colorado Pass, at $319 for new and renewal customers, covers skiing at Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin, as well as 10 days at Vail and Beaver Creek (restricted on Nov. 28-29, Dec. 27-31, and Jan. 1-3 and Feb.14-15, 2004). Buddy Pass holders get unrestricted access to the three Summit County resorts for $299.

With the same deadline as the Copper Mountain pass deal, Vail Resorts is offering the early sale price through May 4 and the $49 deposit to lock in the price. Those who purchase the Vail Resorts passes (in full or on deposit) also collect on a free night of lodging at select resort properties and two lift tickets for $25.

Vail Resorts marketing director Martin White said the free night of lodging, first offered last year, was overwhelmingly popular and the company “would have been crazy to not come back with what the customers wanted.”

White said Vail Resorts had planned its pass pricing position in anticipation of Intrawest taking over Winter Park and improving its product offering – but company officials expected it last year.

“Our product competes well,” White said. “We know this is a formidable challenge, but they can’t offer five mountains. With Arapahoe Basin, we’ve got three resorts in close proximity. People probably won’t ski their two resorts in the same day.”

Copper Mountain spokes-man Ben Friedland said confidence in pass sales is high since Intrawest began managing Winter Park before the end of the year. Pass-holders from either resort could take advantage of skiing at the other without an additional charge.

“A lot of people at each mountain are very loyal to their mountain,” Friedland said. “And the people on the Front Range are telling us these are their favorite places to ski and ride. This is a very competitive product.”

Loveland Ski Area isn’t to be left out of the fray and is offering a season pass $50 below last year’s price. New passes are selling for $249 and are valid through the end of the ski season, set for May 4.

“Poor Loveland oftentimes has to react to competition,” marketing manager Kevin Wright said. “This is Loveland’s guaranteed lowest price. Like everybody else, we’re hoping people buy early – of course that will help with some early cash flow.”

Arapahoe Basin’s season pass will cost $219 new, $199 for a renewal. The Basin also is offering a $149 pass for the rest of this season, and staff are hoping to hit July 4.


Focus on Keystone

For the first time since the purchase of the ski area, Vail Resorts is offering a Keystone-only season pass for $249. The special offering is intended to focus attention on the resort, White said.

Keystone opened the ski season with a management shake-up, including many lay-offs. Resort insiders said last week that more changes are in store. Vail Resorts is currently in the process of allocating capital expenses to next year’s budget, and sources said Keystone could see an infusion of investment.

“Keystone’s going to be different next year,” White said. “There’s a lot of thinking going into it, and the pass is our way of saying “come check it out.'”

Keystone’s skier numbers are dominated by Front Range visitors, and the resort has pushed a family atmosphere with the addition of play areas and child-care facilities. Longtime employees and residents, however, remember a time when Keystone had the cache of Beaver Creek, a time when it was common to see couples headed to dinner in suits and stoles.


Senior skiing

It just got a bit more expensive for seniors to ski. Copper Mountain announced the processing fee for over-70 ski passes is rising to $20. Over-70 free skiing also will be limited to Monday through Thursday. Friedland said septuagenarians who want to ski Copper Fridays through Sundays will have to buy a regular adult season pass.

“It’s a business decision,” Friedland said. “We love our seniors, but as the business grows, we’re getting busier on the weekends, and we need to manage it so everyone has a great experience.”

The Over the Hill Gang has 142 members older than 70. The senior group skis largely on Wednesdays and Saturdays at Copper. Some 70-plus skiers said they expected the increase.

“I’m going to go ahead and buy the more expensive pass,” said Merritt Singer of Frisco. “I’m not angry. I understand why. I’d rather they hadn’t done it, but we’ve had a good run of free skiing there. The other areas have already done that.”

Over-70 skier Dean Trautner splits his time between Denver and Frisco and said he gets most of his skiing in on weekdays.

“But some ski on Saturdays and Sundays,” Trautner said. “They’ll have to change their plans or buy the pass.”

Vail Resorts upped its senior ski pass to $99 last year. Breckenridge spokeswoman Dawn Doty said the resort will announce next year’s price later.

Loveland offers a $25 ski pass for the over-70 crowd.

Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or

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