She specifically asked me to discuss price increases related to ownership changes within the US ski industry.
Here’s my take on the season pass battle, along with practical advice for cutting costs so that family skiing remains affordable.
Ikon versus Epic
Whether you call it “choosing sides” or “forming partnerships,” the alliances formed by the Ikon and Epic passes have a big impact on skiing families.
On the plus side, the consolidation has cut season pass pricing for families living near resorts which are either pass. If either the Ikon or Epic pass is your season pass, you’re saving money, especially when you take into account the ability to ski for “free” at affiliated resorts.
But what about families that don’t have a local reason to purchase one of these passes?
For them, the picture is a little less clear. For families who travel to destination resorts for at least once each winter, these passes can make a lot of sense. But it depends upon when you plan to travel and if you’ll be bumping into any restrictions or blackout dates (for example on the Epic Local or Ikon Base passes).
It also depends upon how many days you’ll be skiing. Look online, check out the daily and advance-purchase ticket rates and do the math. An Ikon or Epic pass may save you a lot of money.
Save Money on Family Ski Trips
I recently wrote a longer post for Liftopia.com addressing how to save money on family ski trips.
Rather than rewrite it here, I urge you to check out the original post. In it, you’ll find money-saving ideas for lift tickets, lodging, lessons, dining and travel.
Additionally, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Plan ahead. The sooner you buy your passes or tickets, the more money you’ll save. Same with lodging, especially if you take advantage of early season sales. The reader who reached out indicated that lodging prices had increased dramatically when her favorite Colorado resort joined the Ikon Pass. Try staying in nearby towns or communities if you’ve got sticker shock. By planning ahead, and booking lodging through a resort, you may also be able to score “Kids Ski Free” deals.
- Go somewhere new. With hundreds of ski resorts in North America, don’t limit yourself to the resorts on the big-name passes. Look for lesser-known resorts offering good deals. For example, Magic Mountain (Vermont) offers a White Out Pass for less than $300 that is valid only during holiday periods (12/26-1/1, MLK and Presidents Day weekend). My neighborhood mountain, Powderhorn Mountain Resort (Colorado), has discounted pass, ticket and lesson prices as part of their Mission:Affordable campaign.
- Be flexible. Travel off-peak and don’t limit yourself to the “snow-globe” ideal of a family ski vacation. Staying slope side is great, but pricey. Consider riffs on the traditional ski trip by adding an urban vibe. Staying in Reno to ski Tahoe or in Salt Lake to ski Utah can save money and be tons of fun.
- Lessons at home. Take lessons before you go, or at a less spendy resort. You and your kids will still get great instruction. It just won’t cost as much. Also, check out the Online Family Ski School. Designed for families with kids 10 and under, you’ll find concrete suggestions, games, tips and instruction for parents to help their children learn to ski and progress. The Online Family Ski School is appropriate for families with “never-ever” skiers and kids who have had lessons, but are still beginners.
I hope you’ll check it out!
And please, keep the questions coming.
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