Combo Passes Offer Deals, Delightful Dilemma
Scenes like this one at Mammoth make combo passes enticing. (Sean Engie)
Thanks to ski-resort consolidations and new partnerships, there are so many combo or multi-area season passes now that it can be delightfully difficult to decide which pass to get.
Combo passes include local and regional resorts as well as big-name destinations and most offer perks and competitive prices.
One of the first drivers of combo passes was consolidation within the industry with a single parent company offering a pass good for all its areas. However, they tended to be pricey until Vail launched its Epic Pass at $579 for the 2008-09 season.
As Vail Resorts acquired more areas, its Epic Pass (now $809, adults) grew from Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin and Heavenly to include Northstar, Kirkwood, Wilmot, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, Park City and Perisher (Australia). Perks include summer lift rides at western resorts and six discounted friends tickets, Vail spokesperson Ashley Smith told SnoCountry.com.
The new Peak Explorer Pass ($799) is also a result of acquisitions. It features unlimited days at seven Northeastern Peak Resorts — Mount Snow, Attitash, Wildcat, Crotched, Hunter and Jack Frost Big Boulder. Perks: discounts on retail, lodgings, activities.
“We felt the variety of each resort's on-mountain experience, as well as the proximity of our resorts, makes the Peak Pass a unique and affordable product for the vast majority of skiers and riders in the Northeastern U.S.,” Peak Resorts CEO Tim Boyd told us.
Partnerships and Perks: You Win
Many individual, independently owned resorts and conglomerates have forged partnerships, resulting in combos that vary from regional to nationwide to international. Prices below are for adults — other age prices available.
The Multi-Alpine Experience or M.A.X. Pass ($648) offers five days each at 26 resorts thanks to a Boyne Resorts, Intrawest, and Powdr Corp partnership (no blackout dates). New for 2016-17 Wachusett, Alyeska, Buck Hill and Solitude join Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Loon, Stratton, Killington, Pico, Snowshoe, Boyne Highlands, Boyne Mountain, Copper, Steamboat, Winter Park, Boreal, Lee Canyon, Mt. Bachelor, Crystal, Snoqualmie, Brighton, Big Sky, Blue Mountain, Mont Tremblant, and Cypress on the pass.
For those already dedicated to a favorite area, the M.A.X. Pass Add-on ($299) is available with a qualifying season-pass purchase at one of the partner areas and to someone purchasing a Rocky Mountain Super Pass Plus, a New England College Pass, and other New England passes.
Killington’s Rob Megnin told us, “The premise of the multi-resort M.A.X. Pass is to appeal to core skiers and snowboarders who don’t commit to a single area with a season pass.” He noted the value for skier and riders who like to travel to different areas with an added benefit of taking a western vacation with so many places to choose from.
The Rocky Mountain Super Pass Plus ($569) provides unlimited access to Copper, Winter Park and Eldora, six days at Steamboat, and three days at Crested Butte and Alyeska along with seven days each at five international resorts.
For anyone purchasing an any-time season pass to one of 15 Powder Alliance partners, the benefits feature three days at each partner resort — Angel Fire, Arizona Snowbowl, Bridger Bowl, China Peak, Crested Butte, Kiroro (Japan), Mountain High, Mt. Hood Skibowl, Schweitzer, Sierra-at-Tahoe, Silver Star, Snowbasin, Stevens Pass, Timberline, and Whitewater.
The Mountain Collective Pass ($399) features two days each at 12 destinations — Alta/Snowbird; Aspen Snowmass; Jackson Hole, Mammoth, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Sun Valley, Taos, Stowe, Thredbo, Whistler Blackcomb, Lake Louise/Sunshine Village/Ski Banff, Coronet Peak/The Remarkables. Perks: include two days each at three international resorts (mountaincollective.com).
The Tahoe Super Pass ($849 Gold) provides unlimited access to Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows and four days each at Sugar Bowl and Sierra-at-Tahoe. Perks: 50 percent off Mountain Collective Resorts and friends/family discounted tickets.
Tip: “Early-bird” prices have passed and current prices are subject to increases, so treat yourself soon and ski/ride more next winter.