Vail Resorts senior passes available until Sept. 29 for $149
SUMMIT COUNTY – It’s final – until
Vail Resorts officials announced Friday morning their senior season ski pass price of $149.
They’re available at that price until Sept. 29. After that, senior passes will be available, but how much they will cost – and whether ski area officials will place restrictions on them – has yet to be determined, said Kelly Ladyga, director of corporate communications for Vail Resorts.
Vail Resorts officials loaded prices into the computer early this week, and seniors who called season pass offices were surprised to find they’d be paying $299 for their pass. A day later, the price was reduced to $199; then officials announced they hadn’t decided on a price for seniors.
“We debate ad nauseum over prices; it’s so critical to our business,” Ladyga said. “A lot of thought goes into each pricing decision. It’s just simply unfortunate that our internal discussions leaked into the marketplace, and we hadn’t yet finalized this pass price. We’re still fine-tuning other pricing as well.”
The new – and presumably final – price is a $50 increase over last year’s season pass, when seniors – defined by Vail Resorts and others in the industry as those 70 and older – paid $99 for an unrestricted, five-mountain pass.
Ladyga said the price is comparable to other resorts. Killington, in Vermont, offers a senior pass for $325; Sugarloaf, in Maine, sells its for $299; Steamboat’s is $99; and senior ski passes for Aspen’s four mountains are $149.
“If you were to buy a full, unrestricted pass (for Vail’s five mountains), it will cost $1,549,” Ladyga said. “We believe a $149 pass for seven months of unrestricted skiing at five resorts is a great deal.”
“That was my prediction,” said Jay Brossman, a senior who tries to get in at least 200 ski days each year. “That ought to be fair for everyone. There’s nothing free anymore. When the seniors play golf, they pay the full price; I don’t know why they complain about the ski price. The seniors are the ones that have all the money in this area. I don’t know of one poor senior here.”
Some seniors were displeased earlier this week when VR officials announced the original price of $299 – three times the amount they paid last season. Ladyga said the price increase was both a matter of equity among what other skiers pay and making up for the increasing costs of doing business. Some of those costs include more grooming and an increased presence of ski patrollers on the slopes – things seniors are requesting more each year.
Some seniors are still skeptical.
“It’s a classic negotiating tactic,” said George Sherman, 72. “First, you float the rumor; then there’s such an uproar they lower the price. You end up at $149, and everyone says, “Isn’t that a plus!’ It’s obviously better than $299. It’s a question of whether this is going to be an annual occurrence – if, year by year, they’re going to raise the fee. The decision they have to make is whether they’re willing to sacrifice community loyalties for making more money for their resort.
“I don’t know the economics of it,” he added. “Maybe they need it for their expenses.”
“I think it’s just a step in continuing escalation,” said Chuck Kincaide, a 74-year-old skier from Dillon. “They’re hoping if they don’t inch it up too much, we won’t bitch too much. It’s important for them to realize it’s not just the skier who is being targeted, it’s the skier and his family. When we have visitors, we’ll be going wherever we have our ski pass.”
Kincaide said he’d buy the $149 pass nonetheless.
“Yet, we’ve been supporting the ski areas for many years, and then, when we reach a certain age, it’s nice to have a privilege,” he said. “I see it as a step in the direction they’ll do away with it completely. I think we seniors should object.”
Frank Schrage, an Over the Hill Gang International skier – for those 50 and older – said he thinks seniors should be grateful for the things Vail Resorts offers.
“They do a lot of great things for us,” he said. “They provide us with uniforms and passes for guides for the OTH gang. There is not another resort that does what we have here. It’s like biting the hand that feeds you.”
Seniors renewing their passes can do so over the phone by calling the Colorado sales office at (303) 504-5870.
New passholders must purchase their passes in person at season pass offices, or at any Front Range Colorado Ski and Golf locations, Grand West Outfitters in Denver and Colorado Springs, Boulder Ski Deals, Gart Sports’ SNIAGRAB sale and all REI outlets.
For more information on the Colorado, Buddy or senior passes, call the Colorado sales office.
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or email@example.com.
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