If you are planning to hit the slopes more than once this winter, you might want to invest in a ski pass. Just think of how fast lift ticket prices can add up during a weekend family trip or even a solo week on the slopes. We decided to ask a few mountain resort experts which ones to buy, what some of the perks include and why it makes sense for snowbirds to invest.
Ask an Expert
If you plan to do a lot of domestic and international skiing this winter, Livia Angelini, a ski expert at international travel specialist Scott Dunn, always recommends her clients purchase the IKON pass. “It’s absolutely worth it as it offers a great selection of resorts all over the world, including hot European ski destinations, like Zermatt and the Dolomites,” she says.
Livia also recommends non-frequent skiers hold off on buying a daily pass until they arrive at their destination to purchase. “Weather is especially unpredictable these days, so it’s nice to have that flexibility to purchase passes [on the spot],” she shares.
As for stateside skiing, Deer Valley in Utah is a perennial favorite. Justin Robbins, general manager of Goldener Hirsch, Auberge Resorts Collection, also recommends the IKON pass, which ranges from around $300 to $1,300. “It’s certainly worth investing at the start of the season, as it pays for itself after just four to five trips to Deer Valley given the resort’s higher price point,” says Robbins. “It also offers many benefits such as “first tracks” and discount codes for friends and family.”
Things to look for when choosing or customizing a pass include black-out dates, discounts on food, lodging, ski lessons, and equipment rentals.
Other passes to consider include the Epic Pass (starting at around $50) which you can access from your phone for top ski resorts in North America, Europe. and Japan.
Mountain Collective is a good choice if you like to travel around between North America and trips abroad to France, Japan, Chile, or New Zealand. (Multi packages start at $650 with no blackout dates.)
The Indy Pass (starting at $399) focuses on independent mountain resorts and covers 180 destinations from the East Coast to the Rockies.
Consider the Location
Depending on time frame and perks, passes can start as low as $50 and increase to more than $1,000, so consider going off the beaten path to save some cash. Of course, Switzerland is globally renowned for its mountain ski resorts — but rather than look at St. Moritz or Courchevel, try the Jungfrau region, a scenic and diverse destination in the Bernese Alps.
Ski passes in the Jungfrau region are cheaper than in the U.S. and the resorts have great discounts for families and children. Plus, the passes often unlock additional activities such as sledding. It also makes sense if you are planning to ski for consecutive days, it’s more budget friendly to buy a ski pass than a lift ticket for every day. Furthermore, on Saturdays, for every one parent lift ticket purchased, three children aged 6 to 15 can ski for free, making it more accessible for families to ski together.
Stick to One Resort
“Santa Fe is one of the most unique winter destinations and one of the highest ski areas in the nation,” said Alyssa Alexander, area director of marketing at Auberge Resorts Collection. The family-friendly Ski Santa Fe resort (and Bishop’s Lodge) also offers value-for-money passes. “Choosing to do a ski pass at one resort means you get exclusive prices when booking ahead of time and can plan a well-rounded trip exploring the destination beyond the mountain.”
According to Carly Cowan, guest experience manager at Hotel Jerome in Aspen, one way to get a good value on your passes is by booking seven days in advance. Aspen also offers four different mountains with different terrains, which means there is more variety to help cut lift lines in half, which translates to getting more powdery runs in on your ski vacation.