1-Day Lift Tickets to Hit $299 at Vail

Vail Skier Visits Down

Stuart Winchester of the Storm Skiing Journal has published a stunning article on walk-up peak-day lift ticket price in America. Clearly a single day pass is no longer affordable and not being positioned as an option.

Peak 23/24 lift ticket prices at American ski areas:

$299: Park City, Vail, Beaver Creek
$289: Deer Valley
$279: Palisades Tahoe, Steamboat, Breck
$269: Northstar, Keystone
$259: Heavenly, Mammoth, Copper
$255: Jackson
$249: Big Sky
$244: Snowmass, Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk
$229: Powder Mountain
$225: Mt. Bachelor, Telluride
$220: Winter Park
$219: Stowe

Stuart writes that the differential between walk-up lift ticket prices and season pass prices is one of the dumber dynamics that he’s aware of. He focuses on the US industry as a whole however Ski The World is republishing Stuart’s rant on Vail.

This is Stuart’s take on Vail’s policy:

Even though they sell them, Vail does not want you to pay $299 for a lift ticket. If you visit Vail Mountain’s lift ticket sales page, a screen-width billboard wards you off like a head planted on a pike at the edge of a savage kingdom:

There are so many amazing things about this: the 60 percent price differential between the two equal-access products; “no additional perks” listed where a consumer may expect to find this product’s perks; the are-you-sure-you-want-to-do-this vibe of the whole experience (less amazing: the Epic Day Pass price is wrong; the current price of an unrestricted, all-resorts Epic Day pass is $125). Even if you ignore this talisman and charge through to the date-specific lift ticket page, the my-God-don’t-do-it messaging follows you around:

But the real clincher happens when you click “add to cart”:

Just for fun, I tried it again with a seven-day lift ticket starting on Dec. 26:

That’s a lot of money. For anyone. If Vail has sold more than zero lift tickets for the 2023-24 ski season, then someone needs to stop drinking while they online shop.

Vail has a clear, publicly stated, oft-repeated incentive to get you to stop buying lift tickets: the company’s goal is to move as many people as possible to “frequency products,” i.e. Epic Passes. And yes, Epic Day Passes count as Epic Passes. The goal is seventy-five percent of all skier visits, and the company hit 61 percent as of its March investor presentation (page 22). The company has also fashioned a clear, attractive alternative to date-specific lift tickets in its three-tiered Epic Day Pass, which is one of the most outstanding values anywhere in skiing.

Vail’s policy had made it easier for you to Ski The World! Purchase your frequency pass before the sale ends.

For more of Stuart’s excellent rants, follow him here: