Partners with Vail Resorts as part of Epic Pass alliance, $669 for Peak Pass
By Aimee Eaton
Crested Butte Mountain Resort has found a pass partner and it is with one of the major players in the ski industry. The ski area on Wednesday announced a new reciprocal pass deal with Vail Resorts that CBMR administrators say will be in place for the long term and help grow the resort. CBMR also announced the 2018-2019 early bird pass prices. Partnering with Vail Resorts, CBMR is joining 63 other ski areas across the nation and world participating in the Epic Pass. On sale now for $899 the Epic Pass acts as a season pass with unlimited, unrestricted access for 15 ski areas owned by Vail in the United States. It also provides several seven-day, multi-day and discounted rates for additional resorts around the nation and world. The 2018-19 Epic Pass will include seven days of CBMR winter lift access. In turn, Crested Butte Peak Pass and Peak Pass Plus holders will receive unlimited 50 percent off daily lift ticket prices at all Vail-owned ski resorts throughout the United States, Canada and Australia. The Epic Local Pass also includes seven days of skiing in Crested Butte and can be purchased for $669.
With CBMR’s involvement the 2018-19 Epic Pass will include seven days of CBMR winter lift access. In turn, Crested Butte Peak Pass and Peak Pass Plus holders will receive unlimited 50 percent off daily lift tickets at all Vail Resorts-owned mountain resorts throughout the United States, Canada and Australia.
“As the ski industry evolves, pass alliances become important,” said CBMR senior marketing manager Erica Rasmussen. “CBMR is elated to partner with a strong brand like Vail Resorts to bring more visitation to our incredible area during the winter months, economic growth to our community, aid in supporting our air program, and give our pass holders the benefit of 50 percent off at Vail Resorts’ global network of ski resorts.”
CBMR’s alliance with Vail Resorts is similar to what Telluride and Arapahoe Basin have in place as Epic Pass partners that are not owned by Vail Resorts. It will also be comparable to the new-this-year deals being offered by Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont and Mount Sunapee Resort in New Hampshire as part of those area’s involvement with the Epic pass. CBMR, Okemo and Sunapee are all managed by the Mueller family’s Triple Peaks LLC.
According to CBMR’s Ethan and Erica Mueller, “The Epic Pass will provide sustainable growth regionally, nationally and internationally. We expect to see increased demand for lodging of all types from Gunnison to Mt. Crested Butte. Most Epic Pass holders reside outside of Colorado with many living in the destination markets that serve us today.”
“Epic Pass holders also reside in destination markets that both CBMR and the Gunnison Crested Butte Tourism Association have been targeting,” the Muellers stated in a letter about the partnership. “Therefore, we would expect to see an increase in demand for winter air service into Gunnison. Joining with the Epic Pass will increase exposure for Crested Butte, thereby attracting more destination skiers to Crested Butte; a positive benefit to the local economy.”
With the alliance, CBMR will remain independently owned and operated, and after the close of the 2017-18 winter season, the resort will no longer be part of the Rocky Mountain Super Pass+, the MAX Pass nor the Powder Alliance.
“Crested Butte is a perfect complement to the unique family of resorts offered on the 2018-19 Epic Pass with its legendary terrain and historic mountain town,” said Kirsten Lynch, chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts. “We strive to offer guests the greatest value and variety in their ski and snowboard vacations and are thrilled to now be able to offer access to 64 of the most celebrated resorts around the world.”
Immediate local reaction was strong on both sides. Several comments on social media sites indicated displeasure with the alliance. Some said that CBMR pass holders were getting the raw end of the deal by not getting any free access to other participating ski resorts. There was also concern expressed about any partnership with ski giant Vail Resorts that represents a more upscale clientele.
Mt. Crested Butte mayor Todd Barnes who owns the Avalanche Bar and Grill was pleased with the partnership. “It is important in this day and age to be part of a ski pass alliance and to be part of the Epic Pass is extraordinary,” he said. “It is exciting and should help us all next year. Maybe the Front Range can give Ullr a ride over here next season.”
Former CBMR president and current Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association executive director John Norton was also pleased with the partnership announcement. “The alternative is living in a ski town that feels like a neutron bomb went off,” he quipped. “This is a really good move.”
On a more local note, CBMR announced its 2018-19 season pass prices on Wednesday. Until April 8, 2018 an adult Peak Pass can be purchased for $669, an increase of $10 from the 2017-18 season. An adult Peak Plus pass will run $859, a $20 decrease from last year. All pricing, more information, and full pass benefit info is available at www.skicb.com/seasonpass.
More information on the Epic Pass can be found at www.epicpass.com