Buy passes at early season rates at this weekend’s ski swap
By Alissa Johnson
Snow has only begun to dust the peaks, but at Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR), all eyes are on winter. According to Erica Mueller, the resort’s director of innovations and relations, pass sales and winter bookings are looking good.
“All in all, pass sales are looking really good,” Mueller said. The deadline to purchase season passes at their lowest rates came and went on October 9. Mueller said overall sales were slightly down compared to last year’s early deadline but insignificantly so, and Peak Pass Plus sales are up over last year.
The latter, Mueller said, “is really encouraging for us as it says that summer is getting more popular with our passholders. People are also seeing the additional value in it with the other benefits that come with it, such as the pass reciprocity, resort discounts, Adventure Park access and more Buddy tickets.”
When it comes to overall sales, Mueller says this year’s early deadline may be playing a role in current results. Last year the deadline was in late October, and Mueller suspects many locals are waiting for two local sales shows, where the special rates are offered again: the Snow Sports Swap hosted this weekend by the Crested Butte Snowsports Foundation, Crested Butte Nordic and Alpine Orthopedics at the Lodge at Mountaineer Square; and a November sales show at Gene Taylors Sporting Goods in Gunnison.
“A lot of locals wait for those shows,” Mueller said.
Another factor making it difficult to compare this year’s pass sales to last year’s is the introduction of the Gunnison Crested Butte Air Alliance. Individual and business memberships generate funds for improved air service into the Gunnison–Crested Butte Regional Airport and come with a host of benefits—among them, the ability to purchase a pass at the early-season price as late as December 11.
“It’s hard to give a full season pass picture when we still have a lot of revenue coming in. All in all, we’re optimistic,” Mueller said.
Looking at winter bookings, room nights across the entire season are up compared to this time last year. December in particular is 32 percent above last December, February is flat and March is up.
“In January we’re down. Last year we had a lot of groups and had an aggressive air offer,” Mueller said. “We have a lot of winter bookings still to come so we are continuing to look at ways to reach new people and put out aggressive offers against our competitors to make Crested Butte that much more desirable.”
Across the region, many Colorado ski resorts are reporting slow bookings. The Durango Herald and Aspen newspapers all ran stories over the last week highlighting the trend. According to the Durango Herald, “A bad to average snow year in 2014-15, questions about the El Niño weather forecasts and a strong American dollar are all factoring into a slower booking pace for this winter.”
Mueller confirmed that the international bookings don’t “affect us as much, but in general skiers across the country are waiting to see what happens.” She remained optimistic about bookings at CBMR, where the new Umbrella Bar at Ten Peaks is under construction and projects are under way across the resort to get ready for winter.
“Things are looking good. We’re hoping temps start to drop for November 1, the start of snowmaking. We’re not going [to start making snow] until we know for sure that temps are going to stay consistently cold, but November 1 is always our target goal,” Mueller said.
Meanwhile, this weekend, season passes will be available at early season rates at the Snow Sports Swap, including $629 for an adult Peak Pass and $839 for an adult Peak Pass Plus (the latter includes additional perks and more benefits at other resorts). Full details are available at www.skicb.com/information/season-passes. The swap takes place at the Lodge at Mountaineer Square on Friday, October 23 from 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, October 24 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Information on the Gunnison Crested Butte Air Alliance and its pass benefits can be found at www.gcbair.com.