Vail Resorts’ senior pass prices up and down
BRECKENRIDGE – Vail Resorts announced its five-mountain, unrestricted senior season pass price Tuesday – $200 more than it was last season.
But after a mid-day meeting Wednesday, ski company officials changed that price to $199 – and added in a $129 pass for Keystone, Arapahoe Basin and Breckenridge combined.
Two hours later, the company announced it wasn’t sure what senior pass prices would be. And Thursday, the company said prices would be announced the following morning.
“When things get loaded into the system in August, it doesn’t mean it’s the final price,” said Kelly Ladyga, director of corporate communications for Vail Resorts. “I knew our guys were fine-tuning every single price.”
That has Summit seniors, many of whom tried to order their passes earlier in the week, shaking their heads.
At $299 …
Banny Tapp called the Breckenridge Ski Resort Tuesday to buy his senior pass and was shocked to find it was $299 – three times the cost he paid last year, when senior passes were $99.
“That’s ridiculous,” he said. “I can see if they raise it $10, but $200? I’ll go to Copper Mountain.”
He wouldn’t have been alone.
Copper Mountain lets those over 70 ski for free if they pick up a daily pass at the window; if they want to skip the hassles of long lines, they can pay a one-time, processing fee of $10 and go straight to the lifts all winter.
Arapahoe Basin and Loveland each will offer senior season passes for $25 – the cost of processing the pass. Skiers and boarders can’t buy season ski passes for just Breckenridge or just Keystone.
Ladyga said the $200 price increase was a matter of equity.
“It’s not fair of us to continue to ask all the other skiers and snowboarders – particularly the younger ones – to subsidize seniors,” she said. “As the senior skiing population continues to grow, it has become a larger part of our business. At the same time, all of our other guests have expressed a desire for lower prices. We’re trying to balance all these needs. We still believe it’s a deal.”
The full cost of an unlimited, unrestricted season pass for all five Vail Resorts ski areas – the closest equivalent to a senior pass – is $1,549, Ladyga noted.
Few people buy that pass, she said.
In addition to equity, there’s the cost of doing business.
“Our cost of doing business continues to rise – in some areas, dramatically,” Ladyga said. “Some increases are the result of new or expanded programs that address concerns seniors have expressed to us.”
Those improvements have included everything from better grooming to increased ski patrol and skier safety programs.
“These programs have significant costs attached to them,” Ladyga said. “We’re just trying to make this fair for everyone.”
Seniors who had already heard about the $299 price were somewhat assuaged when Vail Resorts announced the lower price later Wednesday afternoon.
“Well, $199 is crazy, but it’s better than $299,”Tapp said. “I’m still not sure I’ll buy it. I still feel like it’s a rip-off.”
“I don’t think that’s too bad,” said Nancy Macey, 71, of Breckenridge. “If they do things in small increments, they might get there. But to dump $200 on us – that was more than double. That’s bad.”
John and Anne Karras, senior skiers from Summit Cove, said they’d boycott Vail Resorts ski slopes when they heard about the $299 price. After hearing the revised price, they said they’d discuss whether or not they’ll buy senior passes.
They purchased their Copper Mountain passes Wednesday.
It’s not just skier numbers seniors would take from the slopes if they decide to leave, some skiers noted.
“I think they’re making a mistake,” said Frances Coles of Breckenridge, a member of the Over the Hill Gang International, a group of skiers over the age of 50. “People will just go to Copper Mountain – and they’ll take their families, their friends, their grandchildren with them.”
Ladyga said she hopes they’ll change their minds.
“We’re expanding and enhancing programs because they want more and more from their experience each year,” she said. “We’ve put significant capital dollars into on-mountain dining, grooming – these are all asked for by aging baby boomers to senior skiers.”
Senior Jay Brossman said he’ll pay the price.
“(I) never miss a day,” the Frisco skier said, adding that he was disappointed he skied only 207 days last season. “I don’t mind paying my way.”
Brossman imagines others will balk – but he doesn’t think that’s fair.
“I don’t know why seniors think they should get everything for free,” he said. Any senior who skis or plays golf does not have a shortage of money.”
No one seems to know – or they will not say – why Vail Resorts officials kept changing the price of senior passes throughout the day Wednesday. Seniors said they wondered if it was because of phone calls people made to the company. Ladyga said officials there “just hadn’t decided yet.”
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