Pass sales and lodging pacing ahead of last year
By Alissa Johnson
As of last weekend, the lifts stopped spinning at Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) and won’t start back up until snow flies and the ski season begins. After a strong summer, the resort is looking ahead to winter, with pass sales pacing well and still a little time left for skiers and riders to grab a pass before prices go up.
Current pass prices—$899 for a Peak Pass Plus and $669 for a Peak Pass—are good through Friday, October 7. After that, the Peak Pass Plus increases to $1,190 and the Peak Pass to $890. There will, of course, be two more opportunities to purchase a pass at the lower rate: the Crested Butte Snowsports Foundation Ski Swap November 4-5 at Mountaineer Square and at Gene Taylors Sporting Goods in Gunnison November 19-20. But time to save is running out.
As the resort begins to turn its attention toward winter prep, director of innovations and relations Erica Mueller says CBMR closed the summer ahead of last year by several measurements. The total number of bikers was up 5 percent year over year, hiking increased 9 percent, and room nights were up almost 4 percent. The Umbrella Bar was also a hit with summer visitors.
“One of the highlights of the summer was that the Umbrella Bar was open. Everyone I talked to said it was an awesome amenity. They loved it, and the numbers surpassed what we expected,” Mueller said.
Winter projections are also looking good, with pass sales tracking well for the upcoming season—the comparison to last year, Mueller said, is changing by the hour with the deadline so close—and overall room nights are tracking close to what they were this time last year.
“While it is still very early in the booking season, we are seeing positive trends for a good winter. To date, we are about on par with where we were last year,” Mueller said.
Transient, or individual, bookings are ahead, whereas group bookings for December and February are down slightly. Mueller is confident that smaller groups and transient business will make up the difference. She also noted two bright spots in the pace of winter bookings: compared to this time last year, January is up 18 percent over last year, and March is up 16 percent, not including group business.
Mueller attributes some of the January increase to special promotions that focused on filling the typically slower time of year. “We did our biggest air discount in January,” she explained.
It’s one way that CBMR has shifted its promotions from what Mueller called a broad brushstroke to market-specific offers and offers intended to fill specific time periods.
As another example, visitors who fly Alaska Airlines from Los Angeles can qualify for a free lift ticket. And the popular Book Early, Save Big promotion also continues to perform well—people who book four or more nights of lodging by the next deadline of October 17 can save 25 percent (more details at skicb.com/deals).
“We feel like we have very competitive offers in the marketplace right now and are continuing to hit the markets in new ways to promote the destination and skiing and riding in Crested Butte. Now let’s all start praying for snow!” Mueller said.
Pass purchasers can find more information about the perks that come with each pass option at skicb.com/information/season-passes. Mueller confirmed that the resort is offering pass protection for the third year in a row.
“It allows people to qualify for reimbursement for unforeseen life circumstances,” Mueller said. The cost is 6 percent of the purchase price at the time of purchase, and you can add pass protection up to 30 days after purchase or before the first day of the ski season on November 24, whichever comes first.