Pass prices are going up again for the 2011-2012 ski season, but the good news is that they are still well below the price on offer before the recession.
From now until Oct. 10, Whistler Blackcomb is offering its unlimited adult season pass for $1,429, up $80 from the 2010-2011 price of $1,349. The previous season, 2009-2010, an early bird pass was just $1,099, down from a high of $1,529 in 2008-2009.
After Oct. 10 the price will go up $300.
According to Stuart Rempel, senior vice president of marketing and sales for Whistler Blackcomb, a small increase was necessary this year.
"Obviously our costs have gone up for things like hydro and we wanted to be able to pay our people more money this year," he said. "We didn't want to take it up too much, but we also wanted to continue to offer a premium product and great service."
Rempel believes that passholders will get good value this year, given the last two record-breaking seasons and the fact that the weather system that is at least partly responsible is forecast to stick around for another winter. "That seems to be what the meterologists are saying, enough of them that I'm starting to get excited about it," said Rempel.
The 2010-2011 season was the second snowiest on record for the resort, a record set in 2009-2010. Some meteorologists believe that the La Nina weather cycle that was in force the last two record-breaking seasons will continue through this winter. Rempel said another weather service they use believes that conditions will also be cooler as a result of volcanic eruptions around the globe.
As for value, Rempel said the overall package is hard to beat.
"It's a marginal price increase when you look at the overall value," said Rempel. "Passholders get the biggest mountains in North America, one of the longest seasons in North America and then free summer sightseeing... We have an incredible infrastructure of lifts."
In addition to the adult pass, Whistler Blackcomb announced that the seniors pass will be $739 and a youth pass (age 13 to 18) $649, saving early buyers $176 and $63 respectively. A child's pass is $399, a savings of $110, while kids under six are still free. Families can get a 10 per cent discount.
The price of the Spirit Pass, offered in partnership with the Whistler Chamber of Commerce to resort employees, will be $1,199. It was $1,159 for 2010-2011. It will be available for purchase after September 7.
Early bird Edge Card prices for the upcoming season will be revealed on Sept. 26.
Some of the other perks for early bird buyers include a $500 gift card for $399, three bring-a-friend tickets for $149 (a value of $288), and savings on Max 4 Snow School Less passes.
Passholder discounts include 20 per cent off food and beverages, 20 per cent at WB retail stores, $50 off Snow School programs, deals on Fresh Trax tickets, $100 off Whistler Heli Skiing and free summer sightseeing. A complete list of perks is available at www.whistlerblackcomb.com.
Opening day for Whistler Blackcomb is slated for Thursday, Nov. 24 although the resort will open earlier if conditions allow it.