2006-07 season pass prices ‘elevated’
Although single-day lift ticket prices have not yet been announced by most major American ski resorts, season pass sales are now in full-swing for the winter season.
Pass prices rose from last year for each of Park City’s ski destinations, but when compared to resorts around the West, many believe Utah to not only have the greatest snow on Earth, but some of the best deals as well.
Parkite Amy Tomlinson said she used to pay $1,600 for a season pass on the East Coast for herself and for each of her children. With adult passes costing $1,400 at Deer Valley, $1,050 at Park City Mountain Resort and $849 at The Canyons, she said she feels the pass prices in Park City are well worth the cost.
She said her children snowboard at PCMR for $99 a season, which gives them the opportunity to be outdoors and to do something they love.
"For kids, especially 12 and under, it should be really inexpensive for them to ski," she said.
Krista Parry, PCMR spokesperson, said the resort adjusts its prices season to season and so far has not run across a situation where the resort hit a glass ceiling where the tickets became too expensive for the skiing.
However, some Parkites are beginning to worry about the annual price hikes.
"I’ve only bought one lift ticket my whole life and that was two weeks ago at Mt. Hood," said Caleb Braley. "It was about $40 and I almost choked."
Braley, a snowboarder, bought a season pass to Brighton last year for $500 and said it bothers him less to pay that kind of money to a resort that hardly makes a profit than one he felt could line its pockets with the cash of its patrons.
"The population density in the East drove ski prices up so they’re crazy, and now that more and more people are coming here, the same thing is happening."
Steve Darcy, originally from New Hampshire, agreed. He said the most he would spend on a single-day ticket is $55, which is $22 less than what Deer Valley will charge skiers next season.
Locals ski shop owners Chip Bullen and Tom Emmett both said their ceiling for a day pass would be between $60 and $70 locally, but they would pay more if they were on a ski trip to someplace new.
"If I’m traveling someplace for the skiing, it’d be different," Bullen said. "I’d expect to pay more. When you go to Disneyland and it costs $75 to get in, you still pay it, but locals would think it’s too expensive."
But costs elsewhere are rising as well. A season pass to the Vail Resorts in Colorado runs $1,799, the second highest in the area behind Sun Valley in Idaho, which charges $1,950 for a season. An adult season pass to Aspen costs $1,649, close to Jackson Hole’s $1,595.
Another Utah resort, Snowbird, charges $1,250, while its next-door neighbor, Alta, only charges $950.
Coleen Reardon, director of marketing at Deer Valley, said they try to make small, steady increases to prices, rather than one big jump every few years so that it’s an easier transition. She also said there are many factors including future improvement plans, competitive employee pay, and the general rising costs of operating a mountain resort that go into their decision to raise prices.
Copper Mountain has kept expenses low and is one of the cheapest resorts in the Colorado region, only charging $269 for a year. Park City’s lowest-priced resort is The Canyons at $849.
Libby Dowd, spokesperson for The Canyons, said having a low price tag is intentional, even though they could likely charge more. She said The Canyons is in it for the locals.
"We really like the local spirit that we have and this really just reaches out and gives the locals a chance to ski for the least amount of money that they can," she said. "We’re still the new kid on the block, relatively, so keeping our prices low is a way of bringing people to The Canyons."
When Dowd first came to Utah, she said The Canyons was the best deal, so that’s where her family skied.
"To be a local and ski as much as we want for $849 is a great deal," she said.
Dowd said although the resort lagging behind the other resorts when it comes to raising prices, the rest of the mountain is keeping up with competition.
"As far as what other resorts do with their pricing, that’s up to them to decide how they want to price, but we just want to offer everyone the chance to ski," she said. "We feel we offer more than comparable options, and in some cases we exceed many people’s exceptions of a mountain."
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Tourism revenue increased month over month this summer, the Park City Chamber/Bureau reported, but lodging numbers are still off 22% for December. Officials reported a recent uptick in bookings, though, pointing to a modicum of certainty after ski resorts announced their COVID-related opening policies.