Mountain Collective adds three more big name winter resorts

by Chad Abraham, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer

Whistler Blackcomb among those partnering with SkiCo on pass

Whistler Blackcomb, North America’s largest ski resort, California’s Mammoth Mountain and Snowbird in Utah are joining four other ski resorts, including Aspen-Snowmass, in the Mountain Collective program, the Aspen Skiing Co. announced Tuesday.

For $349, a skier in the 2013-14 season will be able to get two days each at the seven resorts: the four above, plus existing members Alta, Utah; Jackson Hole, Wyo.; and Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows, Calif.

The Mountain Collective pass offers a “dream proposition,” said Jeff Hanle, SkiCo spokesman.

Pass holders will be able to access 30,000 acres across 12 mountains at the same price as the 2012-13 pass, which covered the four initial resorts, a SkiCo press release says. The price may go up before next winter.

Besides the two included days, buying into the Mountain Collective allows skiers to get half off lift prices for the rest of their time at a resort, along with lodging discounts that vary by ski area.

The pass provides a lower price for lift tickets than purchasing them in advance or at the window, Hanle said.

When the Mountain Collective pass debuted in August, member resorts allowed their unlimited season pass holders to also buy lift tickets at 50 percent off of the regular price. That will continue with the new resorts, Hanle said.

Lodging discounts for those who bought only premiere passes have not been worked out yet.

Representatives of Whistler, Snowbird and Mammoth discussed joining the initial four resorts in the Mountain Collective before the pass was first announced.

“For whatever reason, these guys weren’t ready to pull the trigger and join,” Hanle said. “But they saw the success we had this year.”

After the X Games in January, the resort reps got together again for more talks, he said.

“We had a couple of days of discussion and skiing, and these three signed up to participate, which is phenomenal,” Hanle said.

SkiCo doesn’t believe partnering with what are ostensibly competitors will result in it losing skiers.

“We’re all in the business of creating and nurturing skiers and boarders,” Hanle said. “That’s what we do, so if the industry is healthy and successful so are we. We’re all going to benefit from this partnership.”

Amelia Richmond, spokeswoman for Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows, said she agreed.

Her resort serves northern California while Mammoth caters to skiers in southern part of the state.

“That is what’s so cool about the Mountain Collective: We can form partnerships with people seen as competitors,” Richmond said. “We can expose customers to even more options, but are not losing out ourselves.”

She and Hanle declined to say how many passes have been purchased for this season or how many people have used them at their respective mountains. But both said they are pleased with the number of passes that have sold so far.

“We have gotten a lot of feedback from skiers and riders that they were happy they could buy such a pass,” Richmond said.

Like Richmond, Chip Carey, chief marketing officer at Jackson Hole, Wyo., said being part of a collection of resorts that have such strong brands elevates his own ski area.

“The new resorts add a lot to the collective,” Carey said. “They’re all independently owned resorts, and it’s a good match. It gives us a good geographical spread.”

One overarching goal of the pass is to get people to ski more and take more than one vacation, he said.

“We feel we’re doing very well by it,” Carey said.

Information about the pass is available at themountaincollective.com or 1-800-705-6286.

chad@aspendailynews.com