The current snow-sports season is far from over, but the companies running the popular multiresort passes would like you to start thinking about the next one. Passes from the three main players are now on sale for the 2020-21 season, with incentives to buy early: As time goes on, prices go up and some perks vanish. The renewal discount for the 2020-21 Ikon Pass and Ikon Base Pass, for example, ends on April 22.
Here’s what you need to know about the updates to next year’s Epic, Ikon and Mountain Collective passes.
The big news for Epic, the Vail Resorts’ pass, is the introduction of Epic Mountain Rewards, which offers 20 percent off an array of services at the destinations owned and operated by the Colorado-based behemoth. “It’s really simple,” said Johnna M. Muscente, the director of communications at Vail Resorts. “You have access to Epic Mountain Rewards whether you ski one day or every day in the season. You don’t need to sign up for anything, you don’t need to track miles or points. And there are no blackout dates.”
Pass holders present their cards when renting skis or snowboards on site, or when buying quick-service lunch or dinner. They can also use the Rewards website to book lodging, group lessons or rentals ahead of time. There is some fine print: Alcohol isn’t included, for example, and the dining discount applies up to $150 in purchases per day.
Besides that, Epic is staying the course with its two main products. The first is the Epic Local Pass ($729 — for adults, as are all the prices quoted here), which offers unlimited access to 26 resorts as well as restricted access to flagship mountains like Park City, Utah; Vail, Colo.; and Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia. The second is the Epic Pass ($979), which has fewer restrictions and includes more international destinations.
Epic is strengthening its New England base with two new regional passes: a Northeast Midweek ($449) and a Northeast Value ($599). There are local offerings, too, like the $389 Keystone Plus Pass in Colorado, which gives unlimited (excluding holiday blackouts) access to Keystone, as well as unlimited access to neighboring Breckenridge after April 1, and five days (with blackouts) at Crested Butte.
In the winter of 2019, the Ikon pass became a target of criticism for locals irked by increased traffic on the roads and lifts. The agitation flared up especially at Colorado’s Aspen Snowmass and Wyoming’s Jackson Hole, which may explain why, for 2020-21, access to these two destinations will be a $150 add-on to the $699 Ikon Base Pass, unlocking five days at each place. (Both resorts remain part of the package for the $999 Ikon Pass.)
“We need to manage the experience we provide, and we feel the new arrangement will help us do that,” said Jeff Hanle, the vice president for communications at the Aspen Skiing Company. He also pointed out that a freak abundance of sunny powder weekends during the 2018-19 season had contributed to the overall number of visits.
“Being an add-on will make people commit, so those who really want to ski Jackson Hole will make that decision when they’re purchasing,” said Anna Cole, the communications director at Jackson Hole.
Also new is the $399 Ikon Session Pass 4-Day, which offers four flexible days at 30 participating resorts (though not at Copper Mountain, Colo., or Killington, Vt., for example).
The last major Ikon change is increased access at Vermont’s Sugarbush and Stratton resorts — good news for New Englanders.
Next season, Mountain Collective is adding four destinations: Sugarloaf, Me.; Panorama, British Columbia; Grand Targhee, Wyo.; and Chamonix, France (promoted from affiliate to full member). A favorite of ski devotees, Grand Targhee had long been a pass holdout, and its proximity to Jackson Hole — which is also in the collective — will make the region doubly attractive for pass holders.
“The Mountain Collective Pass fills a niche for adventurers and snow chasers who don’t necessarily live close to a resort but want affordable access to the best winter destinations on the planet,” said Christian Knapp, the chief marketing officer of Aspen Skiing Company. “The relatively low out-of-pocket price, combined with the flexibility of extension days and no blackouts, sets it apart from other multiresort passes.”
At $469 for 2020-21, the Mountain Collective Pass offers two free days at each of its 22 destinations and 50 percent off the window rate for additional days. The price tends to go up in the late spring and early summer, when incentives — such as a third free day at one destination and a $99 pass for children 12 and under — disappear.
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