Ski pass prices for the 2011-12 season are going up 3 to 4 percent over last year, the Aspen Skiing Co. announced last week. SkiCo defends the increase as a reflection of the company’s higher cost of doing business, such as higher fuel and power costs.

Season passes will go on sale today. Skico’s pricing attempts to get buyers to join the chambers of commerce in Roaring Fork Valley, and it tries to get people to commit early. Skiers and riders who purchase their pass before the Sept. 16 “super-early deadline” get the best prices. Members of a chamber of commerce reap substantial discounts on pass prices compared to non-chamber members.
The Skico is offering a similar lineup of passes as years prior, except for the Classic Passes. Last season the Skico offered only a five-day classic pass. After customer complaints, it killed the five-day Classic and resurrected the four- and seven-day Classic Passes. But the company did not revive a Highlands-only pass, as some customers have requested.
The Skico’s two most popular passes are going up $40 to $50 over the prices last season. The Premier Pass for buyers who qualify for a chamber of commerce discount increased from $1,099 last season to $1,139 this season; that is a $40 increase or 3.5 percent. The Premier Pass for buyers who don’t qualify for the chamber of commerce discount increased from $1,499 last season to $1,549. That is an increase of $50 or 3.3 percent. The Premier Pass allows for unlimited skiing without blackout dates. Special variations of the pass are available for seniors and youth.
The Skico’s Premier Pass price increases are the first in three seasons. The company dropped the prices of its Premier Pass in 2009-10, then kept the price flat in 2010-11. Skico also justifies the increase by is making $26 million in capital improvements this year: the new $7 million Tiehack Express chairlift; a $6 million remodel of the Merry-Go-Round at Aspen Highlands; and the first phase of construction of a new $15 million restaurant at Elk Camp at Snowmass that will open for the 2012-13 season.
Vail Resorts’ Adult Epic Pass is $649; it offers unlimited access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado as well as Heavenly and Northstar-at-Tahoe.

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