Family ski vacation guide with the best ski resorts for family skiing

Category: Ski Pass Deals (Page 1 of 2)

Ski Pass Deal son season passes, Epic Ikon, Indy Pass, Mountain Collective, Magic Pass and Tirol Snow Card skiing passes in The Alps

Vail Epic Pass or Ikon for skiing?

Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass is now on sale, with 42 Vail owned ski resorts and an early season purchase of $909 for the 2023-24 winter! Incredible value! Keep in mind, for ski season 2022-23, Vail Resorts sold 2.3 million Epic Passes, so you might anticipate busy ski areas at these Vail-owned and operated resorts. Its still the most “EPIC”, most comprehensive, affordable season pass for skiing in North America!

The Epic Pass starting at $909 offers unlimited skiing at 42 Vail owned ski resorts and 7 days each at many more, plus ski pass benefits in the Alps.  See full details and deadlines on the Epic Pass.

Vail Resorts now include:  Colorado’s VailBeaver Creek,  Breckenridge,  Keystone,  Crested Butte in Colorado, Park City in Utah,  Whistler Blackcomb in Canada, California’s Heavenly,  Northstar,  and Kirkwood,  Washington’s Stevens Pass, Vermont’s Stowe,  Okemo, Mount SnowNH’s Wildcat, Attitash, Mount Sunapee, the Midwest’s Wilmot,  Mt Brighton,  Afton Alps, Seven Springs, even Perisher Australia. In the Alps, Vail Resorts has acquired Andermatt Sedrun Disentis in Switzerland and Crans Montana for 2024-25 – also on this season’s Epic Pass.

Additional ski benefits to Epic Passholders include partner resorts – Telluride, , and the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies!  Plus Hakuba Japan.

In Europe, the Epic Pass also allows for ski tickets in the French Alps – Les 3 Vallees in  (think Courchevel, Val Thorens and Meribel), Paradiski – Les Arcs and La Plagne, and Val D’Isere Tignes, plus Skirama Dolomiti Adamello Brenta in Italy. In Switzerland, ski at Andermatt Sedrun, at  4 Vallees in Switzerland – which encompasses Verbier, and The Arlberg in Austria – 3 days at Lech Zurs, Stuben, St Christoph and St Anton. Some of these free ski tickets require lodging purchases in The Alps.

Well, skiers are the winners in this big mountain pass blow up, with great choices at significant savings versus the old-school one-mountain season pass at over $1,200!

IKON Pass is the other big mega-mountain pass player, at $1049 for the full pass, which combines Aspen’s ski resorts (Alterra Mountain Company) with Boyne, Powdr and Intrawest Resorts plus some indies for a total of 55 – its another extremely versatile pass valid at Aspen’s 4 mountains, Steamboat, Winter Park Resort, Copper Mountain, Eldora Mountain Resort, Squaw Alpine Meadows, Mammoth, Big Bear, June, Stratton, Snowshoe, Tremblant, and Blue Mountain.  Plus limited skiing at Deer Valley, Snowbird/Alta, Brighton, Solitude, Jackson Hole, Big Sky, Killington, Revelstoke, and Sugarbush, Canada’s  Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise and Norquay, and Loon, Sunday River and Sugarloaf, plus partners Sun Valley and Snowbasin.

Where are you skiing next ski season? Which pass are you buying? At these rates you might consider buying both EPIC and IKON for an epic ally iconic ski winter!

See our Guide to the Top Ski Resorts and our Guide to Skiing the Alps to plan your winter and book your next family ski trip!

Love of Vail, too big to fail?

Dear Vail,

I have loved you for decades my sweet Vail. From your fun fall line trails on the frontside to your vast untamed Back Bowls, all perfectly pitched and oh so scenic. Our alpine affair has been magical. I’ve loved your amazing grooming, at Vail and Beaver Creek, ripples of corduroy laid out each morning on velvety snow from side to side.

Then you, Vail Resorts, you changed – you became more about take-overs and acquisitions, in the East, the West, and beyond. I watched at first with wanderlust and excitement with more pass options. Then I had genuine concern as your portfolio of truly special ski areas became bigger, and busier. Your attention to detail became attention to an “epic” amount of passes sold! I watched my ski industry friends’ hearts’ break too, they’d dedicated their careers to now Vail-acquired ski areas only to be terminated, eliminated, all for the sake of corporate cost-efficiency.

I witnessed you also let your experienced grooming team go and your fabled “5-star groomingslip to a 2-star with less groomed trails reported, and rookie ridges and divots, really rough transitions in the snow. I’d ski over a groomed crest only to find my path “short-sheeted”, the grooming just suddenly ended on major routes!

I witnessed the local disenchantment toward Vail Resorts, a company now perceived as prioritizing profit over people, at great ski hills like Stevens Pass, Park City, Stowe, Heavenly, Crested Butte, Okemo’s Ludlow, Sunapee, Wildcat and Attitash… the list goes on. These alpine havens have seen an explosion of visitors, over-crowding and traffic congestion, while jobs are eliminated or outsourced away from the local economy.

What’s truly concerning is how crowded the ski experience has become with 2.3 million Epic Pass purchasers out there! Makes a ski gal not feel so special anymore. Lift lines, lift stoppages, crowded slopes with inexperienced, out of control skiers, is now the norm at Vail Resorts. You’ve sold-out to a “cheap pass to the masses” model. The skiing has become dangerous, and the mood has turned rude.

Vail was, is, a world-class resort experience, “like no place on Earth.” Now there are 37+ Vails, and the great name is just not the same. Beaver Creek’s slogan was “Not exactly roughing it”, now it’s just average. Stowe was the “Ski Capital of the East” – now it’s a cluster from the Mountain Road traffic to the Gondi and FourRunner Quad lines. It appears the Vail alpine dream is now quantity over quality – greed-centric, not ski-centric.

It would be “epic” to see Vail Resorts return to people over profits at your three dozen plus areas, a focus on skiing over stock value. Let existing management truly manage each unique ski area, empower your people, encourage the celebration of character at each mountain, instead of just bringing in big crowds for your billion dollars of Epic Passes sold.

Imagine getting back to the joy of skiing? Then my long love affair with Vail would rekindle. My dearest Vail, our intimate ski reunion on a far less-crowded, well-groomed Riva Ridge would be so sweet.

See more Ski Resort Reviews
Top New England Ski Resorts for Families
Top Western Ski Resorts for Families
Top Canada Ski Resorts for Families
Top European Ski Resorts for Families
Top Swiss Ski Resorts for Families
Top Austrian Family Ski Resorts
Top French Ski Resorts for Family Skiing
Top Family Ski Resorts in the World
Top Ski Safaris – multi-resort ski tours

Top Reasons to Ski Utah

#1 Pow – Utah has the snow! Ski resorts Snowbird and Alta typically get over 500’ of snow annually, and this year – they are getting dumped on, storm after stormy! Their patented “greatest snow on earth” couldn’t be truer this season – its copious, light and dry, no heavy wet stuff here, and as a bonus – its often bluebird when the sun shines on these high-elevation Rocky Mountains.

#2 ConvenienceUtah’s big ski resorts are easy to reach. From Salt Lake City, you are a just 40-minutes to Park City, Deer Valley, Snowbird and Alta, under an hour to Powder Mountain and Snowbasin. You can easily be skiing fresh snow by noon of your arrival day. In a week, you can ski eight major resorts, all with their unique character, an easy drive to each other.

#3 Little Cottonwood Canyon is a must, skiing at the legendary 1938 Alta – first and foremost. Alta is loaded with snow, and with alpine accolades – a venerable skier’s only mountain, with a hearty wholesome ski crowd (no snowboarders ever), and a lot of steep and deep terrain. Heading out High Traverse, you can drop in No Name Chutes, the legendary High Rustler, dozens of precipitous powdery chutes, and big snowy bowls. Only thing Alta doesn’t have is many long intermediate groomers. Don’t miss lunch at mid-mountain Collins Grill, grab a scenic table top floor at  Watson’s Shelter.
The Snowpine Lodge, Alta’s beautiful boutique hotel, offers a room with a view, a steamy outdoor Jacuzzi and pool, and aprés ski fireside at Gulch’s Pub. Your boots will be toasty dry in your private locker next to the lovely fireplace living room. Maybe you’ll get snowed-in at Snowpine if Little Cottonwood Canyon closes for too much snow!

#4 Snowbird, Alta’s neighbor, is interconnected encompassing 4,700-acres. Ride the ‘Bird’s amazing base to summit Tram, (2,900’ pure vert) to 11,000’ Hidden Peak and you have bounteous ski options in all directions. Snowbird is a snow cone for skiers and boarders. Charge out to The Cirque for a dramatic drop in under the Tram, or make Mineral Basin your first powder tracks when patrol drops rope to this vast snowy back bowl. Snowbird has so many steep gems, wide open powder fields, it’s a skiers’ playground. Sure there’s white carpet groomed runs too – like Chip’s 2.5 mile trail that winds its way to Snowbird Village. Have lunch at the spectacular glass Summit Lodge, enjoying the panoramic views as far as the Great Salt Lake. Stay at Cliff Lodge – all the rooms have views in this grand 10-story concrete and glass tower hotel originally built in 1971 to withstand avalanches. The rooftop Cliff Spa is a must for a scenic soak, maybe a massage. Après ski at Aerie on the top floor – the place to be for cocktails and dinner, often live entertainment, before you sleep, and repeat! Odds are good it will be another powder day tomorrow!

You can also lodge very affordably in Salt Lake City, we stayed at the Residence Inn by Marriott in suite lodging at the base of Big Cottonwood Canyon, 20-minutes to Solitude, Brighton, Snowbird and Alta.

#5 Park City Mountain is Utah’s largest lift-served ski resort – 7,300 acres spread across 17 peaks, since Vail Resorts merged Park City with Canyons. It’s huge, and it’s on the Epic Pass. You’ve got all this ski terrain, and a stylish western miners’ town below the slopes. You need a plan to conquer Park City’s 330 trails, but with 41 swift lifts – six packs, quads and gondis – there’s no wrong or right way. If you love wide open cruisers – Park City’s Motherlode, Silverlode and King Con lifts serve beautiful long Blues. Want it steep and deep? Head all the way out to McConkey’s and Jupiter! Lost? Take the Silver to Slopes two-hour ski tour, learn the PC mining history while getting a lay of the land. Take the Quicksilver gondola to Canyons side for great glades, steeps off 9990, long roomed cruisers and powder fields off Super Condor. Lunch at Lookout Cabin atop the Orange Bubble Express for views and yummy victuals, or The Farm at the base for locally-inspired cuisine overlooking the slopes. Après ski, explore downtown Park City – Main Street has lively pubs, distilleries, local shops and people watching galore – many don’t ski which is totally PC with me.

#6 Deer Valley is another skiers’ only resort that sets a high standard for white carpet grooming, stellar lodges, smooth service, with some very worthy ski terrain amid its 2,026-acres. Bald, Flagtsaff and Empire all peak out over 9,000’ with beautiful long groomers, some gorgeous aspen-tree stashes, and venerable steep cornices and chutes in Daly Bowl. Everything is posh at Deer Valley, especially the day lodges and the 4 and 5-star hotels like Stein Eriksen’s, Goldener Hirsch, Montage and St Regis – where aprés ski is Champagne Sabering by outdoor firepits! Deer Valley limits ticket sales, so buy ahead, and don’t bring your snowboard – not allowed at this “ski” resort!

#7 Snowbasin is a Utah gem, this stunning ski resort is just under an hour from Salt Lake and Park City, but it’s not on most skiers’ radar, even though Snowbasin hosted the 2002 Olympic ski downhill. With its impressive vertical, almost 3,000’ on many runs like Wildflower and Grizzly downhill courses, Snowbasin is a super fun playful mountain. Gorgeous gondolas flank Snowbasin’s east and western bowls – with well-pitched groomed runs and exciting double black diamond steeps peppered around the 9,000’ peaks. Ride the summit Allen Peak Tram to the Downhill start huts, and ski non-stop to the finish to gain serious respect for ski racers. Don’t miss the spectacular view of four states and the Great Salt Lake from atop Strawberry Gondi. Snowbasin’s day lodges are jaw-dropping too – Needles and Jean Paul Lodge up on mountain, and Earl’s at the base are all gorgeous with giant chandeliers, leather seating, huge stone fireplaces – you’ll be glad you stopped for lunch. Cinnabar at Earl’s is our fave for table service and a view in alpine elegance.

#8 Stay at Compass Rose Lodge while skiing Snowbasin and Powder Mountain. This chic boutique ski hotel is new, beautifully decorated in vintage ski swag, with an alpine sophistication in each of 15 guest rooms, thanks to the friendly passionate owners – yes they ski. You can walk to aprés ski at Shooting Star Bar – the oldest continually operating bar in Utah. Have a burger and beer – that’s all they serve in this veritable 1879 ski museum.

#9 Powder Mountain is just plain cool – this private ski area has tons of terrain – reached by lifts, snowcats, buses, backcountry guides – you name it. Powder’s 8,464 acres is unlike any other ski area, you’ve got lifts and trails, plus in-bounds cat skiing at $25 a ride, and unlimited opportunities to hike to wild untracked “powder”. The other unique aspect to Powder is it’s a playground for tech execs and start up successes who are building their ski utopia at the Summit Village of Powder. Modular alpine homes are popping across the peak slopes, but the ski area remains open to the public despite this private club community evolving. Powder caps its ski tickets at 1,500 a day, so it doesn’t see crowds. Powder is humble and happy from the rustic base and summit lodges to the pleasant peaceful terrain. You can park and ski from the top -Hidden Lake Lodge, or Timberline near the base. Check out the Powder Keg for lunch and order the noodle bowl. Boom – you’ll love skiing Powder!

#10 Other “cool winter activities” in Utah… try snowmobiling, ice skating, snow shoe or cross coutnry skiing, or visit Utah’s Olympic Park and try the Olympic Bobsled, see our review and don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Go ski Utah now, there’s tons of snow, you can fly and ski the same day, and you have so many choice  world-class ski resorts, lesser known snow havens, and convenient lodging within striking distance of the next great ski place to discover.

See our Top Ski Resorts Reviews:
Top 10 Western Ski Resorts for Families
Top Family Ski Resorts in Utah
Top Canada Ski Resorts for Families
Top European Ski Resorts for Families

Aspen’s IKON Pass or Vail’s Epic Pass

Hey Ski Friends! Winter is coming and its time to consider which season pass to invest in for ski season. Aren’t we all ready to ski again, and hoping to have a better, longer ski season? Social distancing – fine… let’s just get skiing!

The two major season pass conglomerates are back for ski season 2023-2024! EPIC or IKON! With mergers of more mountain resorts this year by both Vail Resorts – and competitor Aspen and Alterra Mountain Company, skiers have a big choice between the Epic Pass or the “IKON” pass – both for similar expenditure, around $1,000. The IKON Pass unites 47 top ski destinations, while  Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass is valid at over 65 ski resorts across the US, Canada and the globe.

Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass price started at $980 for unlimited skiing at 42 ski resorts, plus 5-7 days each at many more.  Vail resorts include:  Colorado’s Vail, Beaver Creek,  Breckenridge,  Keystone,  Crested Butte, Park City in Utah,  Whistler Blackcomb, Washington’s Stevens Pass, California’s Heavenly,  Northstar,  Kirkwood,  Vermont’s Stowe, Mount Snow and Okemo, Attitash, Wildcat, Crotched and Mount Sunapee in NH,  Wilmot,  Hunter in NY, several in the Poconos, The Mid Atlantic and Michigan,  and Perisher Australia, Hotham and Falls Creek, plus 7 days skiing at Telluride, and the Canadian Rockies Resorts – Fernie Alpine Resort, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Kimberley Alpine Resort, Nakiska, Mont Sainte Anne, and Stoneham!  The Epic Pass also has great free ski benefits with in the Alps, The Arlberg, Verbier, Les Trois Vallees, and Hakuba Japan – so many ski resorts. Epic Pass holders get 20% off food and bev, lodging, lessons and rentals, and their Mountain Express airport transportation. See the Epic Pass on sale now.

The IKON Pass offers 47 ski resorts acres across the continent, yes Canada & Japan too,  on one season pass, with varying access at each destination, with a price of $1149 No Black Out Pass, a strong competitor to Vail’s Epic Pass. The IKON Pass brings together Alterra Mountain Company, Aspen Skiing Company,  Boyne Resorts, POWDR, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Alta/Snowbird, Snowbasin and Sun Valley, and Canada’s Ski Big 3 – Lake Louise, Sunshine and Banff, plus some Indies like Mt Bachelor Oregon, Revelstoke BC and Tremblant in Quebec! A spin off from previous The  Max Pass, this iconic pass has some pretty epic ski resorts – Aspen, Steamboat, Arapahoe Basin, Winter Park and Copper in Colorado, to Deer Valley, Solitude, Alta, and Snowbird in Utah, Squaw, Mammoth and Big Bear in California, Crystal Mountain in Washington, Big Sky in Montana, Jackson Hole Wyoming, plus Loon, Sunday River , Sugarloaf in Maine, Stratton, Sugarbush and Killington in Vermont, Wyndham NY in The East.

The Ikon Pass is on sale, see details at www.ikonpass.com. Alterra’s IKON Pass is $1149, returning pass holders get $200 off. There’s also an IKON Kids pass with $200 savings when added to the parents purchase. For a lower price point, there’s a slightly more restricted IKON Base pass at $879 (with black out dates and a few caveats).

Well, skiers are the winners in this big mountain pass play off, with great choices at significant savings versus the old-school one-mountain season pass that was often well over $1,000! Yes, there will  be more crowds and lift lines at EPIC and IKON resorts.

Where are you skiing this season? See our Guide to the Top Ski Resorts and our Guide to Skiing the Alps to plan your winter!

Copyright, by Heather & Greg Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com 

 

Vail’s Epic Ski App

1heather-simbaLeave it to Vail Resort to generate the most engaging mobile ski app – Epic Mix. From the folks who brought you The Epic Pass – a super savings season pass good at all Vail’s 42+ ski resorts, here is an Epic Mix app that tracks your vertical skiing, gives you real time intel on ski conditions, lift line times throughout Vail Resort, shows how your kids are progressing in ski school, and how your race time against Mikaela Shiffrin or  Lindsey Vonn. Epic Mix and the Epic Pass now function entirely through your cell phone, no season pass card needed! Amazing technology.

3-snowmass-sheer-blissMy honest scoop on the EpicMix ski app, I’m not big on apps or skiing glued to my phone… I go to the mountains to escape technology, electronics, stats and media.

What I like about Epic Mix is you don’t even need your phone turned on. Just sign up, turn off your phone and go ski if that’s the way you want to play. You can check your skiing stats online or on your phone at the end of the ski day. Other ski apps- Trace and Navtronics Ski apps munch data and run down your battery.

2hrb-beaver-creekEpic Mix tracks via you with GPS, so you can check your stats at the end of the day or the season, even view the app on your pc, so you’re not staring at your smart phone all day and missing out on Vail’s epic scenery. Of course the Gondola One has Wi-Fi and heated seats, a Vail’s 50th anniversary lift, if you want to check on your vert accumulated mid-day, see the line wait times at Lions Head, or reserve a lunch table with a view at the 10th Mountain Lodge at mid Vail.

The only thing better than the free Epic Mix app is Vail’s Epic Pass, which for about $841 with an early season purchase (read: April for the next season) includes skiing at all 41 of Vail Resorts, plus partners in the US, Canada and The Alps! Figure that a day ticket at Vail is $210 ish– so this pass amortizes quickly with one trip out west. The Epic Mix app will track your vertical at all them, Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City/Canyons, Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood, Whistler Blackcomb, Stowe, Okemo, Mount Snow, Wildcat, Attitash, Andermatt Switzerland…the list goes on…your Epic Mix will too.

See more of our Best Ski Reviews

Heather Burke, Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

Vail Epic Pass is more epic

Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass is now more epic, with a surprising 2023 season pass price of $980 early purchase! Its the best value multi-mountain season pass out there! Last season Vail sold 2.3 million Epic Passes, up from 1.4 in 2021. The Pass price goes up every fall, and season pass sales end late November or early December.

The Epic Pass offers unlimited skiing at 46 Vail owned ski resorts and 7 days each at many more, plus ski pass benefits in the Alps, for a grand total of 65+ resorts.  Vail Resorts now include:  Colorado’s Vail, Beaver Creek,  Breckenridge,  Keystone,  Crested Butte in Colorado, Park City in Utah,  Whistler Blackcomb in Canada, California’s Heavenly,  Northstar,  and Kirkwood,  Washington’s Stevens Pass, Vermont’s Stowe,  Okemo, Mount Snow, NH’s Wildcat, Attitash, Mount Sunapee, the Midwest’s Wilmot,  Mt Brighton,  Afton Alps, Seven Springs, and even Perisher Australia. Also Vail’s latest acquisition Andermatt Sedrum in Switzerland and Crans Montana for ski season 2023-24.

Additional ski benefits to Epic Passholders  include partner resorts – Telluride, and the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies!  Plus Hakuba Japan.

In Europe, the Epic Pass also allows for ski tickets in the French Alps – Les 3 Vallees in  (think Courchevel, Val Thorens and Meribel), Paradiski – Les Arcs and La Plagne, and Val D’Isere Tignes, plus Skirama Dolomiti Adamello Brenta in Italy, 4 Vallees in Switzerland – which encompasses Verbier, and The Arlberg in Austria – 3 days at Lech Zurs, Stuben, St Christoph and St Anton. Some of these free ski tickets require lodging purchases in The Alps.

Well, skiers are the winners in this big mountain pass blow up, with great choices at significant savings versus the old-school one-mountain season pass at over $1,000!

You should strongly consider buying the Epic Pass, with full insurance- “Epic Coverage” as protection for next season – at no extra charge. Then download Vail’s Epic Mix app and start dreaming of skiing next season, locally, out west, airfare will be a deal too.

IKON pass is the other big mega-mountain pass, at $999, which combines Aspen’s ski resorts (the newly formed Alterra Mountain Company) with Boyne, Powdr and Intrawest Resorts plus some indies for a total of 41 – its another extremely versatile pass valid at  Aspen’s 4 mountains, Steamboat, Winter Park Resort, Copper Mountain, Eldora Mountain Resort, Squaw Alpine Meadows, Mammoth, Big Bear, June, Stratton, Snowshoe, Tremblant, and Blue Mountain.  Plus limited skiing at Deer Valley, Snowbird/Alta, Brighton, Solitude, Jackson Hole, Big Sky, Killington, Revelstoke, and Sugarbush, Canada’s  Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise and Norquay, and Loon, Sunday River and Sugarloaf.

See our Guide to the Top Ski Resorts and our Guide to Skiing the Alps to plan your winter!

Copyright & Photos, by Heather & Greg Burke of   FamilySkiTrips.com and Luxury Vacation Guide

Vail’s Female CEO, Epic win or fail?

Vail Resorts now has a female CEO, Kirsten Lynch. After 15 years, Rob Katz has stepped into a new role as Exec Chairperson of Vail’s Board, making way for Lynch to take the helm at Vail – the resort conglomerate that she joined in 2011, she was previously Chief Marketing Officer. I was personally excited about a female leader at Vail, thinking she’d bring personality, passion and a quest for the best individual resort performance to the curated list of 4 dozen top ski resorts in North America.

Lynch is the highest ranking woman in the ski industry. Vail Resorts’ board is now balanced, with five female and five male board members, according to VT Ski & Ride.

Kirsten Lynch claimed to be a passionate skier when taking the helm, but her background was all about rising up through the ranks of Pepsi Co, Kraft Foods and Ford Motor Co., before she launched into the ski biz. And so far, there hasn’t been much notable warm and fuzzy lady’s touch o her operating style. It seems all about revenue and reporting profits to shareholders, more so than bringing quality to passholders.

Vail CEO’s salary? Kirsten Lunch is making $6.2 million, with 83% of her pay as incentive base. So more pass sales, more money in her pocket. Are there any quality components to these incentives shareholders have created? Or is it purely revenue based? Is there a factor for skier experience, because Vail’s complaint desk has been brimming of late over resort crowding, huge lift lines, poor food quality with increased prices, extremely inflated day ticket pricing ($290 a day at Vail!), subpar grooming and snowmaking at certain Vail Resorts, homogenization of Vail’s ski resorts, the list goes on.

Lynch led the charge at Vail Resorts’ to drive revenue through a data-driven approach. She built the company’s analytics and database team, and brought user-ex technology like the Epic Mix, to focus on a season pass push since joining in 2011, the Epic Pass started in 2008. Under Lynch’s direction, Vail Resorts pass revenue has grown from about 500,000 passes sold to 2.4 million. Lynch was part of a surprising decision to lower pass prices for the 2022 season, going instead for volume. Yes, she’s a numbers gal! We’ve watched maximized sales of the EPIC Pass, and many of us have experienced epic crowds?

Vail Resorts now manages 42+ ski resorts, but at its core – its now more of a data and marketing company than a recreation portfolio. Its the Amazon of the ski biz. Think of how Vail has acquired the names,credit card numbers, and behavioral patterns of more than 2.3 mill Epic Pass-purchasers.  

Kirsten Lynch also sits on the Board of Directors for Stitch Fix (SFIX), a publicly-traded eComm fashion company that uses data-driven personalization.

Lynch said “It is an honor to lead Vail Resorts as CEO and build upon Rob’s legacy of re-imagining the mountain experience. I am passionate about this Company, the leadership culture we have built and our 55,000 employees who make Vail Resorts the industry leader. Looking forward, I am excited about the incredible growth opportunities for Vail Resorts.”

But does growth mean quality for the skier and rider? You be the judge.

Indy Pass – 50+ ski areas for $199

So you’ve heard about the IKON Pass and Epic Pass?! Impressive conglomerate ski passes with dozens of ski resorts included in one price.

Well, enter The Indy Pass! Introduced in 2020, the Indy Pass includes “indy” aka: independent resort – (read: NOT owned by Vail, Aspen, Alterra, Boyne, etc). This ramped up pass now provides ski benefits at 52 “independent” smaller, lesser known ski resorts. That alone makes it attractive in a skiing future where social distancing may continue to be a focus.

The Indy Pass also now offers “pass assurance” and a lowered prices. The campaign is to drum up business and skier confidence, and to  “Get America Skiing” which you’ve gotta love! There should be a hat for that! Acronym: GAS: Get America Skiing…

The Price? $199! Or $299 with no blackout dates on The Indy+ Pass. And if you already have a pass at one of these resorts, adding on an Indy Pass will give you a chance to ski around for just a $129 add-on.

While the Indy Pass sound super cool, grass roots, and its super cheap, keep in mind those ski privileges at 52 ski areas are for only 2 days at each.

Kids Indy Passes (12 and under) are $99 or $149 for the Indy+ Pass.  A family of four could all season’s Indy passes for just $596.

Indy passholders also get 25% off Lift tickets “Rack Rates” (read: full price) for a third day skiing at each “indie” resort or if you wish to ski on a Black Out day on your Indy Pass basic.

As for the “Get America Skiing Promise, you will receive an automatic credit to your account for a 2021-22 pass if, for any reason, you use your Indy Pass less than four days – no questions asked! The “Get America Skiing Promise” goes like this: if you use your 2020-21 pass zero days – 80% credit; one day – 60%; two days- 40%; and three days – 20%. Pretty straight forward, fair and square.

Indy Passes will be available for purchase Sept. 1, 2020.

Indy Pass Western Ski Resorts –  West Indies – lol
Brundage ID
Tamarack ID
Silver ID
Lost Trail MT
Red Lodge MT
White Pass WA
49 Degrees WA
Hurricane Ridge WA
Mission Ridge WA
Mt Shasta CA
Beaver UT
Sunrise AZ
Eaglecrest AK
Hoodoo Oregon

And in Canada – Maple Leaf Indies
Apex, BC Canada
Castle AB Canada
Sasquatch, BC Canada

In The East – East Indys
Bolton Valley VT
Magic VT
Suicide Six VT
Cannon NH
Pats Peak NH
Black NH
Berkshire East MA
Mt Abram ME
Shawnee Peak ME
Mohawk CT
Catamount NY
Greek Peak NY
Massanutten VA (just love the name, is it a mass a nothin’, or something with 1,100′ vert?)
Blue Knob PA
Bryce VA
Canaan WV
Cataloochee NC

Plus Midwest ski resorts – you’ve likely never heard of….
Lutsen MN
Detroit Mountain MN
Powder MN
Spirit MN
Granite Peak WI
Little Switzerland WI (emphasis on little, 50 acres, 200′ vert)
Nordic WI
Trolhaugen WI
Tyrol Basin WI (yodelahewhoo?)
Pine Mtn MI
Crystal MI
Big Powderhorn MI
Caberfae Peaks MI
Schuss MI (great name, let’s go schuss at schuss. eh?!)
Swiss Valley MI
Terry Peak SD

Honestly when I first heard about the “Indy Pass” I thought it was promoting drag racing… The Indy 500 Formula One fun all-access and private pit pass … woohoo…anywhoo… I’m glad to see this pass at some of my favorite small but might ski mountains.

Some of my fave “Indy” ski areas:

Brundage, Tamarack and hi-ho Silver in Idaho – worth an Idaho ski Iditarod! A ski safari could also hit Montana Indy members Lost Trail and Red Lodge. Too bad it doesn’t include Lookout Pass, Schweitzer Mountain Resort, and Whitefish Montana! #SkiRoadTrip

Castle Mountain in Alberta Canada is epic, sorry – no its Indy. This humble Canadian ski area is huge, Alberta’s 2nd largest behind Lake Louise (4 hours away in Banff)! 3,500 acres, snowfields, 2,800’ vert! Nearby Fernie and Kimberley are on the Epic Pass. Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise and Norquay are on the IKON.

Cannon and Black in NH – the “live free or die” Granite State where skiing is the official winter sport!

Vermont’s Magic, Bolton Valley, and Suicide Six are all wicked authentic small mountains with big heart and inspiring history!

Maine’s Shawnee Peak and Mt A (Abrams) are cool ski areas with soul, night-skiing and great après ski bars I might add – Blizzard Pub and Loose Boots Lounge respectively.

So ski friends, much to consider for next ski season, with Covid potentially still in play. But we MUST PLAY outdoors regardless. We must ski… Skiing is an “essential service” for my health and sanity… yours? See you on the slopes in 2020. Till then, get your season pass, at a discount with pass assurance (or insurance if you’d prefer to call it that ) and stay in ski shape this summer!

Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

See more Vacation Travel Destinations at our sister site, LuxuryVacationGuide.com

The Future of Skiing

We are all eager to ski again, especially since our 2019-20 ski season ended abruptly with Covid closures mid-March. All Corona puns aside, our ski experience will change for the foreseeable future. What will never change is the joy of skiing, the freedom on being outside on a glorious snow-covered mountainside, the rush of flying downhill, the pull of gravity and the g-force of well-arced turn. Arriving at your ski resort next season though… will feel different…

So what does skiing look like next season? Some thoughts on crushing cord and cruising pow in pandemic times.

PPE? Skiers and snowboarders are already pretty accustomed to wearing goggles, gloves, facemasks, so that’s not a big shift for skiers. We can adapt our alpine ensembles accordingly.

“Ride with your party” may well be the new protocol. No that’s not party as in “hey nice to meet you, let’s party!” conversations on the chairlift. New social distancing while skiing could mean you only ride the chair or load the gondola with your family members that you arrived with. I loved (yes past tense) meeting new peeps on the chairlift, a behavior that is likely benched for now. I suppose Six and Eight passenger chairs might be able to allow two singles or two couples seated on opposite ends. Is that 6’ of separation (liftees please chime in)? Do you put the Big Sky or Okemo bubble down during your ascent or keep the air flowing? I do love the bubble on cold, windy, wet snow days, but I am willing to make concessions – fresh air for freshies.

Singles line! No more. This one makes me sad, as it’s a great way to meet peeps when you’re skiing alone, with the added benefit of circumventing a potentially long lift line.

Ski-Times” like golf Tee-Times are being considered for gondolas, even trams. Imagine reserving your Gondi or Tram time. Your 9:15am car is ready and sanitized for you, and you are instructed to “please proceed and ride only with your party.”

Trams are admittedly a tricky situation.  I am picturing last season’s Snowbird and Jackson Hole’s tram lines and tram cars absolutely packed on a powder morning. A thing of the past?  Ski resorts may have to configure capacity with appropriate distancing and only load that number of skiers and riders, with X marks where you are to stand on the tram floor. I do love the window spot… will there be a premium for that? Kidding, I hope. Maybe trams are on hold for next season, or by reservation only. You may have to work harder to get that big vert at the ‘Bird then. Stay tuned.

Pomas can make a strong come back, naturally distanced and isolated with a disc between your legs – oh the retro fun! Mad River Glen should thrive with their Single Chair, naturally quarantined on your one-seater for your long lonesome ride up!

T-Bars you’ll be paired only with your partner, otherwise you ride solo and do the balancing act with an L under your butt. Skilled snowboarders have been mastering this for years.

Speaking of lift lines, will corrals need to be bigger to keep skiers and riders 6 feet apart in the queue? I’m pondering a few resort that already have limited space for their lift line corrals without interrupting skier flow out onto the trail or into the resort base space.

Limited Skier Visits? Will ski resorts need to limit the number of skiers on the mountain for the day to avoid long lines and over-crowding? Powder Mountain in Utah has been limiting to 1,500 ski tickets sold each day for years, making for a genuinely unique experience on their vast 7,000+ acres. Deer Valley limits ticket sales to assure everyone has a seat at lunch, they’ll have to reduce and reconfigure that seating now.

Mountain Lodges serving food, and ski area restrooms, will have to mandate greater spacing and more strict cleaning policies (well, I’m sure I’m not alone in welcoming that at certain ski area bathrooms – lol). Buffets are likely bye-bye. I did enjoy Vail’s Two Elk salad bar, The Summit at Snowbird’s central self-serve too. As a safer template, Snowbasin has a well-designed “Servery” in the palatial Earl’s Lodge at the base of the slopes with an excellent cafeteria style service . Thinking about Snowbasin’s Turkey Pot Pie right now! Mmmm.

As for Passes, many ski resorts are offering very forgiving season pass promises  to encourage you to commit to next season. Vail’s Epic Pass has Epic Coverage – offering 2020-21 pass purchasers free insurance with refunds available in the event of resort closures (e.g. COVID-19), job loss, illness, even injury, a full or prorated refund. Also EpicPass buyers this past season can receive a credit on next year’s purchase of 20 to 80% depending upon their usage last winter. Since Vail Resorts tracks your every move on their mountains, they are able to calculate your usage, and contact you directly with their tabulation. So all those metrics and data collected can help you – or hurt you – if you hit big mountain milestones on Vail Resort’s EpicMix leaderboard – they know.

IKON pass holders are offered a $200 credit ($100 for the IKON Base Pass) toward next season’s pass, and IKON has added Adventure Assurance giving the flexibility to defer your pass to 2021-22. So there’s some compensation from IKON Pass at their 43 ski resorts combined on one pass.

Uphill skiing has already been trending upwards in recent years. This no-lift ski approach to alpine should continue to thrive as skiers seek out back-country experiences and true distancing. Hopefully uphill skiers will access remote terrain with appropriate snow safety and avalanche awareness, versus just skinning up groomed slopes and skiing down resort trails (poaching) without paying their share by buying lift tickets or a pass, or paying only $10 bucks. Ok, its a pet peeve of mine.

Après Ski? Say goodbye for now to the packed party scene at the Matterhorn, Foggy Goggle, Red Lion, Trap Bar, Grizzly… all of our favorite après ski bars …the list goes on…  Some ski regions were hot spots for “sharing” the virus last ski season. Après ski at Ischgl come to mind. We’ve skied this Austrian resort and can report the Alps-style après ski is huge, lots of hugging, and chugging, dancing, sharing drinks and super close contact included! Yeah, that’s no longer the scene ski friends (insert sad face here).

Ok, so we have more questions than answers about next season’s ski experience. Travel to the Alps, I doubt it? Japan, um no. Big events, probably not? It’s a curious time, unprecedented.

But if there is a will, there is a way. I know the ski industry and our community of skiers are resourceful passionate people and there will be a plan to SKI! I will not even contemplate ski resorts NOT opening next winter, call me naïve, I prefer optimistic and hopeful …

Stay well, stay safe, stay in ski shape –  winter is coming!

Heather –  Travel Writer, Skier since 1969

Copyright and photos by Greg Burke property of Family Ski Trips.com and our sister site The Luxury Vacation Guide
  Follow @FamilySkitrips  

Top 10 Reasons to Rock The Epic Pass

Top 10 Reasons to rock the Epic Pass!  There is no better season pass deal, and no better places to ski! And all of these fun Vail Resort events are part of  your Epic Pass.

10. What pairs betters better than Food & Wine & Skiing? Vail’s Taste of Vail in early April is the culmination of these best things in life – enhanced with spring sunshine on the slopes at Vail Mountain! Top Chefs serve fabulous food and wine on mountain tops , choice vintners pop their best cru, and daily events on and off the slopes feature amazing tastings and apres ski parties –  its “epic”!

9.  Stowe’s ‘80s Retro Weekend every March is among the best ski parties in the East. Who doesn’t love the 80s and rockin’ a one piece ski outfit in day glo? Totally awesome! Après ski at Stowe, hit the classy Hourglass Bar at Stowe Mountain Lodge,  the local fave Matterhorn, or the visit Trapp Family Lodge’s Bier Hall where the hills are alive with the sound of brewing! Stowe is high elevation, assuring good spring skiing.

8.  Vail hosts the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships in Vail late Feb- early March. This is the biggest snowboard event besides the Winter Olympics and X Games in Aspen! Download the Epic Mix app and track your own vert between viewing the best snowboarders launch big vert in the halfpipe!   Come April, Vail is all party – Spring Back to Vail with free concerts followed by the World Championship Pond Skimming – a wet wild good time!

7. Partake in Beaver Creek’s  Annual Talons Challenge  late February. More than 26,000 vertical feet of black diamond and double black diamond trails –14 in total – are waiting for you. Finish the job and earn your spot on the Talon’s Wall-of-Fame!

6. Ski seven of Park City Mountain’s peaks during the inaugural Seven Summits Challenge, Saturday, mid February. Earn bragging rights, and hit the après ski party at Red Pine Lodge. Park City keeps partying  with include Spring Grüv – that means warm sunny days, soft snow, free concerts, and Easter celebrations with Utah’s best pond skim competition.

5.  Breck Pride week is mid March, celebrate with live music, daily aprés, a flamboyant Color Run in costumes down the mountain and inclusive fun for everyone at Breckenridge!

4. Celebrate all things spring at Spring Loaded at Heavenly with a Spring Loaded Rail Jam, Gunbarrel 25, Live Music, and pond skimming.

3. Whistler Blackcomb is always a blast, especially during the annual World Ski and Snowboard Festival. This six day  jam-packed event covers snow sports, music, arts, and mountain culture  mid April.

2. Got Kids?  Keystone’s Kidtopia Music Experience is early March  with outdoor concerts, music themed daily Kidtopia fun, a mountaintop snow fort, a village parade, and fireworks.

1.  Just rock your Epic Pass already… with skiing at 46+ of the best ski resorts, its the most epic season pass and the best ski value out there, unless of course you don’t use it …. than you’re a loser, not an epic user. You can also take your Epic Pass to the Alps where you can cash in skiing at Val Isère, Les Trois Vallees, La Plange Les Arcs, St Anton and Verbier, and more… See you on the Epic Mix leader board ski friends! 1 million vert – I’m coming for you! Cheers!

See our Guide to the Top Ski Resorts and make your skiing EPIC!
Copyright 2023, Heather Burke, Photos by Greg Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com and TheLuxuryVacationGuide

« Older posts

© 2024 FamilySkiTrips.com

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑