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December 20, 2007

Running the Numbers

I use Beaver Creek as an example, but in reality I am referring to any major megaresort--you know, the ones that the ski magazines drool about. This is more an illustration of the pros and cons of major destination skiing at a high end resort (Vail, Aspen, Beaver Creek, Breck, Keystone, Park City, Whistler, etc.) versus skiing at a smaller resort in the Rockies that costs half as much but also offers less. I am going to run down the resorts that I have skied and compare and contrast them:

Colorado - Wolf Creek, Beaver Creek, Loveland, and A-Basin
Arizona - Snowbowl, Sunrise
Montana - Red Lodge, Big Sky
Utah - Alta, Brian Head

What you find is that once you find a place that you really like, you tend to go there until you find a better deal, get bored, etc. So I am an Alta guy because I just like it so well because of the price, location, skiers only policy, snow quality, and experience that I never drive to the other resorts in the area. Now, I am probably going to have a tough time ever going to Vail because Beaver Creek is so awesome and I have yet to even scratch the surface of all that is there. I am not sure how to compare Beaver Creek to Vail to Keystone to Breck when you couldn't touch all the mountain on any of them in a week or solid skiing.

I am assuming that for folks with the Colorado Pass, they choose their resort based on snowfall numbers, location, or just plain familiarity. So since I haven't skied all the resorts, I leave it open for more comments and info. This is somewhat generic, but there are just too many resorts to know everything about. For the most part though, the mega resorts are that way for a reason--they have a lot to offer and all compare very favorably to the next tier or resorts.

In my mind, there are three categories of ski resorts. Megaresorts. Midsize resorts (and this is a broad category). And places that just plain blow. First, let's talk about the mega resorts. You are going to get a well developed base area, great restaurants, touristy bars, lots of high end shops, and a few high end hotels. Expect lots of folks that are crazy rich and have really nice stuff. Expect people in $1000 jackets riding $2000 worth of gear on groomers who look crazy pimped sipping lattes at the base area. Folks from the East Coast can't get this kind of snow or experience so expect most folks are destination skiers or locals that get really good pass deals or work at the resort. Lots of folks from Europe, etc. Just a different kind of guest. But folks don't come for just the base area. The mountains are massive, but you gotta have the skills to relly enjoy it. And the money to spend because it ain't cheap. EVEN WHEN YOU GET A GREAT DEAL.

The next category is the smaller Rocky Mountain resorts and most East coast resorts. Places like Wolf Creek or Bridger Bowl or Brian Head. Usually these resorts are smaller mountains and do not offer the same level of amenities as the big guys. Not as much vertical. Off the beaten path. Poor airport access. No development rights. Less snowfall. But far lower prices. So then it is a matter of what you are willing to sacrifice. All of these resorts are missing something and it is up to you to decide what you are willing to sacrifice. I am willing to sacrifice shopping, dining, amenities, and nightlife but not snow. I would rather ski powder at a small resort that offers nothing (i.e. Wolf Creek) than ski crap snow at a more developed resort.

I won't get into the third category of places that just plain suck, but they are out there. Usually they have a couple old doubles that some other resort took out 20 years ago.

Beaver Creek was the first place that I didn't have to worry about a sacrifice. I look at the things that I usually am willing to give up. First, I give up base area amenities. I like to stay in town where I can afford it anyway. Then I give up nightlife. Then I give up some of the massive areas and vertical. What I usually don't give up is snow.

I can't get over the $92 price tag. So now it really highlights how good the Colorado Pass is. Season pass at Key, Breck, A-basin, and then the free days at Vail and Beaver Creek. I am just hating that I don't live in Colorado. The Beav and the Colorado resorts are so affordable for locals due to VRI's passes. I can't help but sing their praises. If you want to ski these resorts, you just have to look for deals and I am able to ski Vail and the Beav for the same price as Brian Head.

Posted by Justin at 09:40 AM | Comments (3)

March 30, 2007

Vail Resorts and the Colorado Pass

I have several other posts about the Colorado Pass, but now that it is nearing the end of the season, it is the best time to start thinking about and/or purchasing your season pass for next year. I want to cover the Colorado Pass again, as well as highlight what I think about the CO Pass, Vail Resorts, and the impact of the two on affordable skiing in general.

First, the Colorado Pass--last year the pass ran a little under $400 (even less if you bought early) and got you unlimited skiing at Breck, Keystone, and A-basin plus 10 days at Vail and Beaver Creek. Compare that to roughly the same price (regular price) for a season pass at Brian Head that is for one resort as opposed to three plus two more with bonus days.

Second, Vail. Well, it is Vail. Ten days at $85 a day peak price is more than double the cost of the pass. Hell, even a week at Vail is more expensive than the pass.

I am on a ton of mailing lists, but VRI is has a new Colorado Pass Club that gets you all kinds of offers and discounts. It is important to be an informed consumer and look for deals. If you do that, VRI has about the best deals in the industry. Their lift tickets and prices aren't cheap, but when you use the CO Pass it makes skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breck, and so on actually LESS EXPENSIVE than at many of the smaller resorts around the country... and you are skiing at the finest resorts in the world for reasonable prices.

Utah has nothing that even comes close to the CO Pass. A season pass at Alta is several hundred dollars more than the CO Pass and just covers Alta, and so on. I am big on keeping skiing affordable and Vail Resorts is certainly doing their part.

Posted by Justin at 02:48 PM | Comments (4)

September 25, 2006

Huge Storm Across Colorado Dumps Over 2' on Vail

Do I really need to add much to the title? Breck, Keystone, and Vail all received between 18" and 2'+ of new snow this weekend and late last week.

Checking reports from A-basin and Loveland and all reported they had at least 8" as of Thursday with more expected through the weekend.

We are now counting the weeks instead of months until ski season opens. Pretty soon we will be talking days.

Posted by Justin at 05:25 PM | Comments (1)

September 19, 2006

Colorado Pass and New Banner Ads

I have posted some new ads on the site for Breck and Keystone. I am going to be heading up there to both of them this year and ads help me pay the bills. (Maybe even help me get a free pass or two from time to time.)

I am an A-basin and Loveland kind of guy most times I go to Summit, but that is simply because of price. $75 a lift ticket is a heck of a lot different from $40 a lift ticket at A-basin or Loveland. Well, it seems that there is an alternative for me that would allow me to ski A-basin, Keystone and Breckenridge as well as spend 10 free days at Vail and Beaver Creek for less than the price of a week of skiing at Keystone--The Colorado Pass:

  • Unlimited, unrestricted skiing and riding at Keystone, Breckenridge and Arapahoe Basin
  • 10 days skiing and riding at Vail and Beaver Creek.
  • The Colorado Pass is restricted at Vail and Beaver Creek November 24-25, 2006; December 27-31, 2006; and February 17-18, 2007.
  • Heavenly 1/2 Price Tickets. Ski Heavenly in Lake Tahoe for 1/2 price! Restrictions apply. Details>>
  • One-Year Subscription to SKIING Magazine included with your Colorado Pass purchase.
  • Savings for your Friends and Family. Colorado Pass holders will receive six coupons so your friends and family can ski at a discounted rate. Check back soon for updated pricing.
  • Breckenridge Unlimited Ski & Ride School Lesson Pass for only $159.
  • Resort Charge convenience. Link your credit card to your Colorado Pass to charge on-mountain dining, ski and snowboard lessons and more.

    How much does the whole thing cost? $399 for an adult, $299 for a teen, and $189 for a child if you buy before October 15th.

    I posted about the Big Sky Frequency Card, which is also a sickeningly good deal, but the Colorado Pass is a must have. Downside is you have to purchase in person at one of their listed locations. If you were to simply spend 5 days over the entire winter at Vail or Beaver Creek, and bought the pass, you could spend the entire rest of the winter at Breck, Keystone, and A-basin for free. (Math majors will note that $75 per day at Vail x 5 days = $375)

    In the interest of disclosure, I am running ads for Breck and Keystone as well as for the Colorado Pass. Here is my deal--I won't run ads for stuff or do reviews of things that aren't completely honest. If I say it is a good deal, it is or I would not say it. I have three kids and am always looking for deals on gear, lodging, skiing, etc. This is an insanely good deal. Whether they advertise here or not.

    I ski on the cheap and this is most certainly the best deal I have seen. My season pass at Brian Head runs $288 at spring renewal prices for students, $328 for everyone else. By this time of year, that jumps to almost $400 to ski for the year at one single resort. And Brian Head's pass does not include 10 days at Vail and Beaver Creek. Nor does it include three other resorts (Breck, A-basin, and Keystone) for the entire year. If you know for certain you are going to Colorado (or to Heavenly) and know that you will ski at least 5 days this winter, this is a MUST HAVE. Plain and Simple.

    Posted by Justin at 09:47 PM