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Ski pass dilemma as a price hike looms

Buy an Epic before the price jumps or go CBMR?

By Mark Reaman

With the sale of Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) to Vail Resorts not officially completed, people looking to still purchase a 2018-19 season pass for Crested Butte are in a bit of limbo.

Vail’s Epic Local Pass is on sale through Labor Day for $669 but the price will go up after September 3. The CBMR season Peak Pass is currently on the market for $729 until October 8. The Epic Local will basically act as a season pass for Crested Butte, along with giving unrestricted ski and riding access to several other resorts including Breckenridge and A-Basin, with limited access to places like Park City, Vail and Whistler Blackcomb—if the resort sale goes through.

The conundrum comes with the resort sale closing date. Vail Resorts representatives have said that once the deal is closed, CBMR season pass holders can trade up their CBMR season pass to a full Epic or Epic Local Pass or simply use their CBMR pass for Crested Butte.

But if the sale isn’t completed for some reason, the Epic passes will allow only a week’s worth of skiing at Crested Butte.

“If the deal doesn’t go through, Epic Pass holders would get seven days of skiing at Crested Butte,” explained CBMR vice president Erica Mueller. “So if you want to guarantee unlimited skiing or riding at CBMR for the upcoming season, we recommend you purchase a Peak or Peak Plus Pass. You do have until October 8 to do so before the CBMR price increases.”

Next week’s cost increase for the Epic Local has not been announced. But CBMR’s web page indicated that based on history, the increase shouldn’t be a lot. “We do not know what future Epic Pass rates will be. Historically price increases have been $20 to $30, according to our research,” the website states. “As a publicly held company, Vail Resorts is not able to release future non-public rate information. We do not know what future Epic Pass rates will be.”

What are the chances of the sale not happening? Not very good, since people from both companies are diligently working to make an easy transition between companies happen this fall. But as CBMR owners, the Mueller family knows from first-hand experience—when they showed up on closing day to finalize a deal for Steamboat and got shown the door—“A deal isn’t a deal until it’s a done deal.”

For those who already have a CBMR season pass, the ability to move to an Epic Pass will be offered after closing. “Anyone who has purchased a CBMR Peak or Peak Plus Pass will have the option to change that to an Epic Pass,” said Mueller. “All questions relating to transferring products should be done by calling the Epic Pass office and/or reading their FAQ sheet. We understand that things might be a little confusing this year with the timing—that is something that is out of our control and we apologize.

“The best thing people can do is to do their research,” Mueller continued. “And if you want to wait until after the closing takes place to make a better informed decision then you should do that. Read through both FAQ sheets to better educate yourself on both passes.”

As for the potential of Vail renewing the Choice Pass option, which benefits families with kids in the area that sign a pledge to not do drugs or drink, that too is still unsettled as there has been no decision on the Choice Pass.

Ultimately, Mueller emphasized that checking out the two company websites and even making phone calls to their pass offices might be appropriate to make a determination. “I would encourage anyone who has questions about CBMR pass products to call the CBMR pass office at 349-2211. For those who have questions about the Epic Passes please call (970) 754-0005,” she relayed. “They have all the answers to your questions and can help you decide which pass is going to be best for you. Beyond that, I would also encourage everyone who has not yet purchased a pass and has questions to review both the CBMR FAQ sheet at http://www.skicb.com/partnership-faqs and the Epic Pass FAQ sheet at https://www.epicpass.com/info/new-epic-resorts-faqs.aspx. Each individual is going to have a different circumstance, so we cannot give a broad recommendation on what they should do.”

While the Vail Resorts acquisition of the Stevens Pass Resort in Washington, which was announced the same time as the CBMR, Okemo and Sunapee Resorts (Triple Peaks) sale has been completed, the Triple Peaks deal involves some state approvals in New Hampshire and Vermont. As of this week, no closing date has been set.

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