Since Vail Resorts bought Perisher in 2015 and launched the Epic Australia Pass for $799, other Australian and New Zealand resorts have been scrambling to keep up. How can you compete with an Australian season pass that offers unlimited access to Perisher and further limited access to 12 global ski resorts including Whistler, Vail and Park City?
Vail Resorts have undoubtedly forced Australasian ski-fields to get creative with their ski pass offerings to lure the coveted Aussie snow dollar. This is good news for the consumer who prefers a more bespoke lift pass experience away from the mega resorts and who also plans to ski north of the equator.
Both Thredbo and NZ Ski (Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Mount Hutt) have in recent years joined the Mountain Collective Pass, a multi-resort pass led by the team at Aspen Snowmass. The Mountain Collective offers two days each at 16 of the world's best ski-fields including Aspen, Jackson Hole, Revelstoke, Mammoth and their equally impressive friends.
That's 32 days for US$429. There are no black-out dates, the pass holder gets to choose a third free day at any of the resorts and receives 50 per cent off all single day passes at all resorts after their quota is used.
This is also good news for Thredbo 365 Season Pass holders. As part of the Thredbo deal with Mountain Collective they are able to pass on the same 50 per cent discount off one-day lift passes at all of the Mountain Collective resorts. So, as a 365 Season Pass holder you can ski Thredbo all season, hop over to New Zealand and ski half price and then hit up the rest of the northern resorts the following winter.
Meanwhile, in Victoria, Hotham and Falls Creek have the Hero Pass which allows unlimited all-season skiing at both resorts. Sales of the pass are now closed but if you did get your hands on one then you also have access to free skiing at Steamboat in Colorado for seven days with an accommodation booking proviso.
You can, however, still grab the resorts' mid-week three-for-two deals all winter, if you buy three midweek days you will only pay for two. But you do have to purchase online.
The Mount Buller season pass also offered some overseas skiing benefits with three free days at Madarao Japan, Secret Gardens China and Les Trois Vallees in France. However, at this late stage you will have to fork out $1499 instead of the $799 early-bird special price originally offered at the end of last season.
Across the ditch NZ Ski have a 3 Peak Season Pass for unlimited skiing at The Remarkables, Mount Hutt and Coronet Peak. The pass is on sale for $NZ799 until May 31. After that it rises to $NZ999. Given that the average day pass is $NZ119 this pass pays for itself in seven days.
The team at Porters in Canterbury have launched an "all inclusive" season pass that includes meals. The premium season pass sale finishes on May 20 and includes, among other benefits, one main meal a day, skiing, plus snacks and hot drinks. The Premium Season Pass retails for $NZ899.
Cardrona's Unlimited season pass holders receive 21 free days of skiing at Copper Mountain, Steamboat and Winter Park in Colorado and up to seven days at Hoshino Resorts Tomamu ALTS and Nekoma in Japan. The Unlimited Pass retails for $NZ999 and again, pays for itself in nine days and then the rest of the season is free.
The team at Treble Cone recently partnered with the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies and the Endless Winter Lift Pass. This means that Treble Cone season pass holders receive 50 per cent off single-day passes at Kicking Horse, Fernie, Kimberley and Nakiska in Canada. It also means that they get half price skiing at Saas Valley in Switzerland, Val Gardena in the Dolomites and Banff Lake Louise. It will, however, cost you $NZ1399 before May 31.
Be prepared for the battle of the ski passes to heat up by the year's end. The recent acquisition announcement from Aspen Snowmass and Squaw's KSL of a number of USA and Canada resorts including Steamboat, Winter Park and Mammoth will surely mean a new ski pass to truly rival Vail Resorts Epic Pass stronghold.
With potentially two multi-resort passes on offer, the Epic Pass series from Vail Resorts and one from the new conglomerate, it is surely the consumer's wallet that will benefit. Watch this space.
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