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Aspen’s IKON Pass or Vail’s Epic Pass

After an abrupt end to 2019-2020 ski season, already it is time to consider which season pass to invest in for next 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 2020-2021! 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, under $1,000. The IKON Pass unites 43 top ski destinations, while  Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass is valid at over 90 ski resorts across the US, Canada and the globe.

Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass is priced at $979 for unlimited skiing at 37 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, Snowbasin and Sun Valley, 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. New is free season pass insurance- “Epic Protection”! Bonus also, Epic Pass holders get 20% off food and bev, lodging, lessons and rentals, and their Mountain Express airport transportation,  Some resorts even offer 1 free wax, plus 50% off a ski or board tune. Child’s Epic Pass is $499.  The EPIC LOCAL with some restrictions is $729. See the Epic Pass on sale now. 2019 purchasers of the Epic Pass get a Covid discount on their 2020 pass and Epic Protection pass insurance at no charge.

The IKON Pass offers 43 ski resorts acres across the continent, yes Canada & Japan too,  on one season pass, with varying access at each destination, with a price of $999 , 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 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 now, see details at www.ikonpass.com. Alterra’s IKON Pass is $949, 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 $699 (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!

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 2020, by Heather & Greg Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com 

 

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 37+ 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 2020, Heather Burke, Photos by Greg Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com and TheLuxuryVacationGuide

 

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 37+ 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 even displays  photos of you and your friends captured around the mountain, thanks to your RFID Epic Pass.

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 your RFID ski ticket, 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.

Epix Mix leader boards and challenges are fun, its totally opt in – not obligatory… but how fun is it to achieve 1,000,000 vertical feet in a ski season?!

The only thing better than the free Epic Mix app is Vail’s Epic Pass, which for about $979 with an early season purchase (read: April for the next season) includes skiing at all 37 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…the list goes on…your Epic Mix will too.

See more of our Best Ski Reviews

Heather Burke, 2020 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

Aspen Ski Resorts Epic Merger

What does $1.5 billion in the the ski biz? A bunch of great ski resorts, so says the Crown family, of Aspen Resorts, with their recent acquisition of Intrawest, KSL and Mammoth.

Aspen – or Alterra – owns a mammoth ski resort conglomerate  now – competing with the likes of Vail Resorts (which now tallies 26 ski resorts, and more partner resorts fora total of 65+).

This new Aspen ski company, renamed and branded as Alterra Mountain Co., now includes 15 mountain resorts in their portfolio, plus  partner resorts – all on the IKON Pass for a total of 41,  attributing over six million annual skier visits.

Alterra – Aspen owned ski resorts include:
Squaw Valley  Alpine Meadows
Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain
Snow Summit and Bear Mountain also in California
Steamboat and Winter Park Resort, Colorado
Solitude and Deer Valley Utah
Stratton Vermont
Sugarbush Vermont
Tremblant in Quebec
Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia
Blue Mountain Ski Resort in Ontario
Canadian Mountain Holidays heli skiing operations

Boom!

Aspen Resorts, and its four ski mountains, Snowmass, Ajax, Aspen Highland and Buttermilk, remain a separate company owned by the Crown family. If you were to count them in the overall ski picture that would be 15 ski resorts, approaching Vail Resorts conglomerate of 26… but Vail is still the big daddy in skier visits with busy resorts like Vail, Whistler Blackcomb, Breckenridge and Keystone, Whistler Blackcomb, Park City and Heavenly.

KSL Capital Partners and the owner of the four Aspen resorts, Henry Crown and Company, are the backers of this $ billion ski bundle.

The mega mountain pass for Aspen’s entourage is the IKON Pass – a strong pass competitor to Vail Resorts Epic Pass . The Vail Epic Pass includes  ski benefits at more – including Telluride, Resorts of the Canadian Rockies –  Kicking Horse, Kimberly, Fernie, Nakiska and Mont Sainte Anne, and Hakuba Japan’s 9 ski areas, for about $900 bucks.

While we don’t love ski monopolies and downhill dynasties, you can’t beat the value of a multi-venue unlimited vertical ski pass for under a $1000….

By Heather Burke, Photos by Greg Burke, Family Ski Trips Copyright

Visit Heather Burke’s websites Family Ski Trips.com and  for luxury resort reviews: www.theluxuryvacationguide.com

 

 

CNL, EPR, Vail Resorts- Who owns what ski resorts?

1sunrise-express-baseAre you ready for the latest in mountain mergers and alpine acquisitions? Vail, Aspen, CNL, Boyne… who owns what? Here is our ski merger and acquisition guide!

Vail Resorts now owns or at least operates 34 ski resorts, and half of the 10 busiest ski areas on the continent, the top three being Whistler Blackcomb, Vail, and Breckenridge. All these ski resorts are on the Epic Pass, plus Telluride Colorado!

Vail, Colorado
Beaver Creek, Colorado
Breckenridge, Colorado
Keystone, Colorado
Crested Butte, Colorado
Park City (and Canyons) in Utah
Heavenly, Lake Tahoe, California
Northstar (management contract only, purchased by EPR)
Kirkwood, Lake Tahoe, California
Whistler Blackcomb, BC Canada
Stowe Mountain, Vermont
Okemo in Vermont
Mount Snow Vermont
Mount Sunapee, Wildcat, Crotched and Attitash in NH
Hunter NY
Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin
Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan
Perisher in Australia

Vail Resorts also holds the RockResorts brand, with luxury ski lodging properties including The Lodge at Vail, The Arrabelle at Vail Square, The Pines Lodge and The Osprey at Beaver Creek , One Ski Hill Place at Breckenridge, and the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

big-sky-ianMeanwhile Aspen Skiing Company formed Alterra Mountain Company – which now  operates 14 destinations:
Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk, plus Steamboat and Winter Park Resort in Colorado
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain and Big Bear Mountain Resort in California
Stratton and Sugarbush in Vermont
Snowshoe in West Virginia
Tremblant in Quebec and Blue Mountain in Ontario
Solitude and  Deer Valley in Utah
CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures in British Columbia

The Ikon Pass includes all these Alterra Aspen ski resorts, plus Boyne resorts:  Big Sky Montana, Snoqualmie Washington, Loon in NH, Sunday River and Sugarloaf in Maine, and Powdr Resorts: Killington Vermont, Crotched Mountain in NH. Ski Las Vegas, Mount Bachelor Oregon, and independent resorts   Alta Ski Area and Snowbird in Utah,  and Jackson Hole Wyoming.

Finally, EPR Properties of Kansas City recently bought up a dozen ski resorts from CNL Lifestyle Properties, for $830 million.

The EPN/CNL ski resorts includes:

2-ski-timberline2Brighton Ski Resort, Utah (Boyne Resorts)
Cypress Mountain, B.C., Canada (Boyne Resorts)
Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, Mass. (Fairbank Group)
Loon Mountain Resort, N.H. (Boyne Resorts)
Northstar, Tahoe CA, managed by Vail Resorts
Mountain High Resort, Calif. (Mountain High Holdings LLC)
Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort, Calif. (Booth Creek)
Stevens Pass, Wash. (Stevens Pass Mountain Resort LLC)
Sugarloaf Mountain Resort, Maine (Boyne Resorts)
Summit-at-Snoqualmie Resort, Wash. (Boyne Resorts)
Sunday River Resort, Maine (Boyne Resorts)
Gatlinburg Sky Lift, Tenn. (Boyne Resorts)

 

Winter is coming ski friends…see you on the slopes soon!

Heather Burke, 2019 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips and  The LuxuryVacationGuide.com

 

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