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Vail bends to pressure following backlash over removal of parent pass

Current passholders will be offered two season’s passes for price of one next winter

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Vail Resorts has heard local parents loud and clear.

After the backlash came hard and fast following last week’s announcement that the Colorado-based company would eliminate the Whistler Blackcomb (WB) parent pass ahead of the 2017-18 ski season, Vail Resorts has extended a special offer to current passholders. For $1,439, the same price as last year’s pass, 2016-17 parent passholders will have the option of buying two adult unlimited season’s passes ahead of next winter. The offer expires Sept. 4.

“The feedback from the community has been heard,” read an emailed statement from Whistler Blackcomb.

Under the current rules, parents must share a pass, but because Vail Resorts’ “systems, procedures, and controls” don’t support products transferred between two people, next year’s offer means parents will be able to ski at the same time.

“I think it brings back the excitement to skiing for us,” said Taylor Wood, who started the Bring Back the Parent Pass Facebook group after last week’s announcement.

The outcry came swiftly from local families decrying the removal of one of WB’s more affordable pass options. Wood’s Facebook group quickly amassed over 800 members, and Pique also heard from several parents who voiced their concern.

“It doesn’t feel like (Vail) is trying to cater to the locals here at all,” said Squamish parent Shelagh Thompson.

“If there’s no support at all for us being able to access (the terrain) we have here, I feel like it’s a kick in the teeth, you know?”

But while families mostly applauded Vail’s concession, some were left wondering why the offer is only being extended to 2016-17 passholders.

“It’s a good first step and I think it solves the issue for a lot of people next year, but I have also already seen a number of comments from people asking, ‘what about us who haven’t got the parent pass yet? Next year was going to be our first year, what do we do? How does this help us?’” relayed Wood.

In response, WB communications director Lauren Everest said the offer is being limited to existing passholders because it’s intended to “assist local families most immediately impacted by the change.”

For now, the special offer is only in place for next winter, although Everest said that could change in time for the 2018-19 season. Some local parents are hoping to meet with WB to discuss the long-term future of the pass.

“Hopefully we can work together to see if there are any potential options for the future,” Wood said.

The parent pass offer can be redeemed at WB Guest Relations beginning March 15. More information is available at www.whistlerblackcomb.com/purchase/tickets-and-passes/season-passes/winter-17-18#parent.

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