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Multi-resort passes for 2019-20: Ikon, MCP, Epic, Freedom, Indy, Peak, etc.

marzNC

Angel Diva
#1
Last spring we had a thread about multi-resort passes, as well as an online comparison sheet (Thanks! @Tvan). The three major ones (Ikon, MCP, Epic) get the most press, but there are also others to consider for 2019-20. I’ll mention regional passes later on, but most of my ramblings in this thread will be about multi-resort passes that are multi-regional.

Figuring out what makes the most sense for a given individual or family can be complicated, especially the first time seriously considering buying a multi-resort pass. One reason to start looking at options in the spring is that prices go up after the end of early bird sales. March thru May is when prices are lowest and/or more perks are offered. However, waiting until late summer or early fall when travel possibilities are clearer can work out well in the long run.

Although the info in the Google Sheet comparison is from last season, it’s still useful as a general reference to get familiar with multi-resort passes. The prices haven’t changed that much, but you should check websites for the latest info about a specific season pass, especially if interested for young adults or children because age criteria vary. My guess is that Vail and Alterra won’t be announcing too many acquisitions or new partners for 2019-20. It was really hard to keep up in 2018 with all the changes for the 2018-19 season. But you never know.

Feel free to ask questions. Everyone’s situation is unique but we can help each other learn about the wide range of options available.

Have you committed to a major multi-resort pass already? If so, how many days do you hope to use it? If not and you had one for 2018-19, what is holding you back from making a decision?
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#3
MULTI-RESORT PASS PRICES

As of May, Ikon Base for an adult (23+) costs $749 and Full Ikon is $1049. The adult MCP is $449 for a few more weeks. Price for an adult Epic Pass (TM) is $993. Sales of Epic, Ikon, and the MCP started in March. Epic sales end mid-November, could get Ikon until mid-Dec for the inaugural season last year, and the MCP is usually available until late January.

To put multi-resort pass prices into perspective, here are examples of early bird prices for an adult (usually 18-64) season pass in the U.S. As in buying a home, size and location matters. The other factor for an alpine ski area is vertical. In the American “flatlands” (midwest, southeast, mid-Atlantic) having over 1000 ft vertical is unusual, while in the Rockies, most people are looking for at least 1500 ft vertical. For some resorts, it’s hard to find out a season pass price during the summer.

* Bachelor, OR, $959 (final price for 2018-19); 4300 acres
* Big Sky, MT Gold Pass, $1449 before 4/8/19; 5800 acres
* Powder Mountain, UT (age 27-64), $685 before 4/30/19, $945 later; 8400 acres
* Taos Kachina Pass, NM, $895 lowest price; 1300 acres
* Lutsen, MN, $464; 180 acres
* Boyne Mountain Gold, MI, $780; 415 acres
* Magic, VT, $679; 135 acres
* Wachusett Gold, MA, $559; 110 acres
* Wintergreen, VA, $329; 130 acres

Before Vail Resorts bought Stowe a few years ago, a season pass was around $2000. After the sale was announced, I talked with a local business owner who was excited at the idea of buying Epic for under $1000. He was planning on taking his family to a Vail resort out west after the Stowe season ended.

For seniors, whether or not a multi-regional pass has a senior rate is a factor. For someone over 65 who likes MCP destinations, it may be worth thinking about a senior season pass that offers the 50% discount at the other MCP locations. For instance, the senior (65-79) pass for Taos was around $500 in the spring and included “Mountain Collective Reciprocity.” For Alta, the senior (65-79) price is $799 (until June 6) with Reciprocity. Now that Ikon exists, that is leading to new possibilities. A Jackson Hole Grand Pass for a senior (65+) is $1029 (April 9 thru May 31) and comes with unlimited JH access plus Ikon Base days (purchase before 12/12/19). If don’t need to ski JH during holiday periods, then then Senior Grand Pass is $919 thru May 31, 2019.

If you are curious about vertical and skiable acreage in N. America, check out MountainVertical.
http://mountainvertical.com
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#4
MULTI-REGIONAL PASSES

The number of multi-resort passes that are multi-regional has grown since Vail Resorts created the Epic Pass in 2008. In addition to Epic, the Mountain Collective Pass (MCP), and Ikon, I think there are six other multi-regional passes.

Epic by Vail Resorts - started 2008
Mountain Collective Pass (MCP) - started 2012
Ikon by Alterra - started 2018

Freedom Pass - started 2014 in northeast
Powder Alliance - started 2014 on west coast
Power Pass (AZ, NM, SW CO, UT) - started 2014 with NM
Peak Pass (northeast, PA, midwest) - started 2014 in northeast
Indy Pass - 2019-20 is first season
Boyne Gold (MI, MT, WA, NH, ME) - 2019-20 is first season

These are not all “passes” in the sense of a separate purchase. Some are agreements that allow premium season passholders to get free or discounted days at partner locations. Boyne Gold, the Power Pass, and the Peak Pass are offered by a multi-resort company. The others are partnerships between independently owned ski areas/resorts.

A few shifts happened in 2018 or 2019 that were not related to aquisitions by Vail Resorts or Alterra. Telluride, Sun Valley, and Snowbasin chose to become partners on the Epic pass instead of continuing with the MCP. Falls Creek and Hotham in Australia (ski in 2020), and Rusutsu in Japan were added to Epic. Arapahoe Basin will no longer be connected to Epic. The A-Basin partnership with Vail Resorts started before the Epic pass existed. Boyne Resorts bought back the resorts they sold to a REIT about a decade ago. Boyne had continued to operate those resorts and always retained ownership of Big Sky. The MCP and Ikon added Mt. Buller in Australia (ski in 2019).


For those who like to know a little history . . .

When Vail Resorts started Epic in 2008, it was a regional pass for Colorado (Vail, Beaver Creek, Breck, Keystone) plus Heavenly in Tahoe. The MCP started in 2012 with four destination resorts out west (Aspen/Snowmass, Squaw/Alpine, Alta, Jackson Hole). The MAX Pass was created by Intrawest, Powdr, and Boyne Resorts and existed for three seasons, with 22 locations for 2015-16 and 44 for 2017-18. The purchase of Intrawest by Alterra in 2018 meant the end of the MAX Pass. By the time the list stopped growing for Ikon in 2018, the count was up to 14 for Alterra-owned locations plus a long list almost all the MCP destinations (not Sun Valley, Snowbasin).
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#5
REGIONAL MULTI-RESORT PASSES

Regional passes have been around for a while. The list below are examples from last year’s multi-resort thread. If you know of any others, please let us know by posting in this thread!

• Ski3 Pass for ORDA mountains in NY
• New England Pass for Boyne in NH/ME
• White Mountain Super Pass (NH)
• Utah Gold/Silver
• NY Gold Pass
• Midwest Premier Pass
• NC Gold Pass

Canada
• Rocky Mountain Passport
• Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR) Rockies
• Canadian Ski Council Gold/Silver ticket packs
 

VickiK

Angel Diva
#6
I got the base Ikon pass--hope to use it locally, Mammoth, and maybe other resorts.
I will also be buying a 5 day Epic day pass. The plan is to use it for Vail/Beaver Creek on the ski club trip next February.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#8
I got the base Ikon pass--hope to use it locally, Mammoth, and maybe other resorts.
I will also be buying a 5 day Epic day pass. The plan is to use it for Vail/Beaver Creek on the ski club trip next February.
Interesting that the ski club trip doesn't include lift tickets. That's what seems to be more common. Perhaps Vail Resorts prefers that people on club trips are encouraged to get some sort of Epic pass to increase the numbers.

Did you "renew" before the Ikon deadline in late April to get the $30 discount along with the lowest price? I ended up moving to Full Ikon in order to get 2 more days at Taos and 2 more days at Alta/Snowbird. Given my plans for a mid-season trip based in SLC, probably not going to get the MCP for 2019-20.

Although the big difference is that I won't be skiing in the northeast as I did in recent years. My daughter is starting college in NC in August (yes, August is when classes start). I may well check out places in the southeast/MidA that I haven't been to lately. One reason I was intrigued that the Indy Pass includes Cataloochee. Although I'd be more interested if Wolf, Beech, or Sugar was on the Indy list.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#9
Epic Tahoe Local Pass $589 for me! Will probably use the 5 days at Crested Butte as well.
https://www.epicpass.com/passes/tahoe-local-pass.aspx
Last season skied 23 days on it..... also purchased discounted days at Squaw and Mt Rose..... No discount at St Moritz or Davos but 8 days lift tickets were purchased!
Pretty good to end up at about $25 per ski day with Tahoe Local. I noticed that there isn't a senior rate for Tahoe Local, only Tahoe Value and the discount is $70 off $499.

Never really looked at all the options for Epic before. The Stowe purchase in 2017 was the first time any resort in the east was included. I tend not to ski much in Colorado or Tahoe these days. Flying past UT/CO/NM to check out Whistler hasn't been of interest yet either.

Looks like now that Sun Valley, Snowbasin, and Telluride are partners on Epic, season passholders get 50% off at Vail resorts. Telluride went to Epic during 2018-19. The number of days are limited for Epic folks to at most 7 days.
 
#10
Interesting that the ski club trip doesn't include lift tickets.
The trips usually do include the lift tickets, at least they used to. The destination choices in the last 2 years have been resorts that are on the Ikon pass because most of the club members have it. This link might be old news, but it was interesting reading a couple of months ago.
Group Travel Insights from Sport America

Did you "renew" before the Ikon deadline in late April to get the $30 discount along with the lowest price?
Yes. You made a good choice, given you're an "Alta-holic". :smile:
 
#11
Pretty good to end up at about $25 per ski day with Tahoe Local. I noticed that there isn't a senior rate for Tahoe Local, only Tahoe Value and the discount is $70 off $499.

Never really looked at all the options for Epic before. The Stowe purchase in 2017 was the first time any resort in the east was included. I tend not to ski much in Colorado or Tahoe these days. Flying past UT/CO/NM to check out Whistler hasn't been of interest yet either.

Looks like now that Sun Valley, Snowbasin, and Telluride are partners on Epic, season passholders get 50% off at Vail resorts. Telluride went to Epic during 2018-19. The number of days are limited for Epic folks to at most 7 days.
I may have to think about the Ikon if I decide to do a Taos Ski Week and/or Diva West....... Not planning a Euro trip this year so who knows? Last season did not get as many ski days as usual as it seems I was sick on and off in February and March.......
 

SallyCat

Moderator
Staff member
#12
I'm 90% sure that, unless there's some ski-pass deal via my new job, I'm going to be on the Freedom Pass this coming season. Magic Mountain offers an incredible $319 full season pass for Vermont teachers, and that makes the passholder eligible for Freedom Pass benefits. For me, that means three days at Dartmouth Skiway, Bolton Valley, Black Mtn, and Whaleback (there are other moutnains, of course, but those are the ones that I would realistically go to in terms of proximity).

Aside from being mega broke, I will also be skiing during peak school vacation times, so I'd just as soon be at smaller mountains, anyway. And given that I'll be splitting my time between the White Moutnains and central VT, having the Magic pass I think makes sense. It should keep me on snow all season anyway.
 
#13
The trips usually do include the lift tickets, at least they used to. The destination choices in the last 2 years have been resorts that are on the Ikon pass because most of the club members have it. This link might be old news, but it was interesting reading a couple of months ago.
Group Travel Insights from Sport America
That is a fascinating article about the new Epic Day pass! I have only gone on one ski club trip, partially because I never found a local ski buddy for sharing a room. Have always thought ski club prices for a 1-week ski vacation were quite good. There are certainly advantages to not having to do much planning besides blocking out the week of the trip and making sure a deposit is paid soon enough to hold a spot.
 
#14
I'm 90% sure that, unless there's some ski-pass deal via my new job, I'm going to be on the Freedom Pass this coming season. Magic Mountain offers an incredible $319 full season pass for Vermont teachers, and that makes the passholder eligible for Freedom Pass benefits. For me, that means three days at Dartmouth Skiway, Bolton Valley, Black Mtn, and Whaleback (there are other moutnains, of course, but those are the ones that I would realistically go to in terms of proximity).
There are definitely advantages to getting a relatively inexpensive season pass for a smaller mountain that you know will pay off. It's cool that Magic does something special for teachers. When there are perks that mean exploring other mountains in the region doesn't require buying a lift ticket, that's definitely a bonus. I know I skied more at Massanutten when I had a season pass because going out for an hour after dinner or heading out when the weather wasn't the best was an easy decision.

The Freedom Pass includes 19 ski areas, 9 in the northeast, 4 in Colorado, 3 in NM/AZ, Nordic Valley in UT, Buck Hill in MN, and Eaglecrest in AK. All the Power Pass locations are also part of the Freedom Pass. Someone who gets the full Power Pass also gets 3 days at Copper, Loveland, Monarch, Powderhorn in CO, plus Kiroro in Japan.

Hmm, there is a list of "partner" locations for 2018-19 on the Purgatory website that is includes even more locations than those mentioned for the Freedom Pass or the Power Pass. Even includes Beech Mountain in NC. Although I can't imagine anyone bothering to travel from the Durango region to ski in the NC mountains. Unless they just want to see what being at over 5000 ft is like on the east coast.
 

SallyCat

Moderator
Staff member
#15
@marzNC when I lived in PA I pretty much only skied at Blue Mountain, because they were open until 10pm every night and their season pass was about $400. I definitely felt as though that was a great deal, but that's because there just wasn't any comparable skiing in the region. Living part-time in the White Mountains and part-time in central Vermont will be a bit of wretched excess in terms of geographical access. At the same time, I'm very, very, very broke, so even just getting to ski at a few small places with Magic as an anchor is pretty exciting for just over 300 bucks.
 

Ski Sine Fine

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#16
Last spring we had a thread about multi-resort passes, as well as an online comparison sheet (Thanks! @Tvan).
...
... Google Sheet comparison ...
...
Have you committed to a major multi-resort pass already? If so, how many days do you hope to use it? If not and you had one for 2018-19, what is holding you back from making a decision?
Wow, I had no idea there are that many pass products.

I went a little nuts and got three passes, all because military discounts made them much more affordable. I got IKON base because I want to do a Taos Ski Week, ski Copper, and possibly go to Diva West. I briefly considered Taos military season pass at $365 (unlimited at Taos, 3 days each at A-Basin and Copper, 50% off MCP) but didn’t want to foreclose Diva West. I got Epic Military ‘cause it’s a no brainer at $129 and I go to Breck & Keystone every year. I really like direct flights from Dulles to Denver. Lastly, and the one I am most unsure about, is I downgraded from a Snow Time season pass to Whitetail/Liberty/Roundtop to a Peak Traveler Pass for weekday skiing only with a few blackout dates. I plan to ski Hunter around Thanksgiving. The three eastern PA resorts will have dynamic ticket pricing next season with unknown costs. I’ll keep track of what they are to determine if the Traveler Pass gets my money’s worth. I already told my boss next season I’ll cut back to 4 days a week until March.:becky:
 
#17
In early March, Bloomberg came out with an article about Epic versus Ikon that included a brief history for the key players at the top of Vail Resorts and Alterra. But what caught my eye was the infographic that attempted to compare the coverage from a geographical standpoint. Only problem was that Midwest was empty and most of the East was missing.

Here is one way to look at Epic and Ikon by region. From a traveler's standpoint (fly or over 6 hour drive), the big mountain regions in the west could be considered equivalent. Especially for a first trip from the eastern half of N. America, including the southeast. What Ikon has over Epic for travelers with limited time is more "bucket list" destinations (Alta, Snowbird, Jackson Hole, Aspen, Squaw, Big Sky). Epic's partners (Telluride, Sun Valley, Snowbasin) fit in well with other VR resorts but seem less likely to sway someone who isn't also interested in one or more VR destination.

However, if getting in some "local" days is important to make the most out of Epic or Ikon then significant differences exist for folks living in the midwest, mid-Atlantic, southeast, or northeast. Epic clearly wins for the midwest metropolitan areas (Chicago, Minn/St. Paul, Detroit), while Ikon makes more sense in the northeast (Philly, NYC, Boston). Can certainly see the value of Alterra partnering with Boyne Resorts (Big Sky, Loon, Sunday River, Sugarloaf, Boyne Mountain, Boyne Highlands). Ikon has an edge for people who ski in the mid-Atlantic (DC, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Cleveland) or southeast (VA, NC, SC, GA, FL) with Snowshoe but the number of people willing to make the trek to Snowshoe isn't that big.

bold - owned by VR or Alterra

CANADA
Epic: Whistler-Blackcomb, Kicking Horse, Fernie, Kimberly
Ikon: Lake Louise/Sunshine/Norquay, Revelstoke

WEST COAST
Epic: Stevens Pass, Northstar, Heavenly, Kirkwood
Ikon: Crystal, Summit at Snowqualmie, Squaw/Alpine, Mammoth/June/Big Bear

ROCKIES
Epic: Sun Valley, Snowbasin, Park City, Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breckenridge, Crested Butte, Telluride
Ikon: Big Sky, JH, Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, Brighton, Aspen/Snowmass, Copper, Steamboat, Winter Park, Eldora, Taos

MIDWEST
Epic: Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, Wilmot
Ikon: Boyne Mountain, Boyne Highlands

NORTHEAST
Epic: Stowe
Ikon: Sugarbush, Killington, Stratton, Loon, Sunday River, Sugarloaf

MID-ATLANTIC and SOUTHEAST
Epic: none
Ikon: Snowshoe
 
#18
In Canada, Ikon draws people from Montreal and Toronto to Mont Tremblant and Blue Mountain as well. And Epic access to the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies includes access to Mont Ste Anne and Stoneham outside of Quebec City as well.

I don’t think I’ll make it to the Canadian Rockies next year, but we almost always go to Quebec City once a year (only 4 hours from Burlington) and will tag a day or two of skiing there as well.
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
#19
I didn't realize that MSA was on the list. But it's only 7 days. So if you have the pass for another reason, then I could see it. I wonder if it will be enough to draw Americans up. The $$ is good reason no matter. One of the reason, even with the Ikon, that I won't be travelling to the states. 30% add on cuts into the ski budget.
 

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