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Pass prices same as last year

Faithful customers ‘rewarded’ for their loyalty

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Season pass prices at Whistler-Blackcomb are not going up this year.

The decision said Stuart Rempel, Whistler-Blackcomb’s senior vice president of marketing and sales, was made in part to reward pass holders for their loyalty over the years, particularly after the tough winter season last year.

Even though the company’s costs are climbing in fuel and labour, among other things, Whistler-Blackcomb did not want to raise pass prices for their faithful customers.

"We just felt that we had to reward the loyalty of our pass holders," said Rempel.

That means Unlimited season passes bought by Monday, Oct. 10 (the early bird time period) will cost $1,329.

The Spirit Pass, the pass of choice for many Whistler employees, is also sticking to last year’s price of $999 before taxes. This pass is available to employees of businesses who are members of the Chamber of Commerce.

Last year there was a measurable increase in the Chamber’s membership as businesses rushed to join to take advantage of the Spirit Pass prices, which hadn’t been that low since the 1997/98 season.

The Student Pass, which gives Sea to Sky students unlimited access to the mountains for $299, is back again this year.

Rempel admits that with prices like these the company doesn’t end up ahead but they are committed to rewarding people in the local community.

Last year Whistler-Blackcomb spent millions of dollars in upgrades, such as summer grooming on Peak to Creek, before even opening for the season. More money was poured into the mountains as Whistler-Blackcomb struggled to combat rain and warm temperatures in early 2005.

This summer even more money has been spent again on summer grooming, which will allow some runs to open earlier than they normally do with less snow.

"There’s always pressure to raise prices," said Rempel.

Instead of raising prices, however, Whistler-Blackcomb is concentrating on selling more tickets, selling more products and getting more people to the resort.

The early bird rates also apply to seniors (65-74) who can buy a pass at $659, children (7-12) get their pass for $409 and super seniors (75 and older) can get their pass for $99.

The early bird pricing also includes offers such as three free lift tickets and $300 in Whistler-Blackcomb retail coupons.

"When comparing season passes across resorts, taking into account acreage, length of season, number of lifts, season pass perks, summer benefits and overall resort amenities, Whistler-Blackcomb delivers great value to our guests," said Rempel. "All this combines to make the Whistler-Blackcomb season pass the most incredible adventure experience for the money."

Whistler Mountain is scheduled to open for the 2005/06 season on Thursday, Nov. 24.

But Rempel said the lifts would open earlier if there is enough snow.

"If we have enough snow to open, we’re going to open," he said.

"As a resort we do have very reliable snowfall on average historically, but we definitely need to get the message out to all the markets when we do get snow that we’ve got snow and we’re up and running. And an early season snowfall and an early opening would really help the entire resort in terms of just trying get rid of the hangover from last year, if you will."

Passes go on sale Tuesday, Sept. 6. The early bird pricing lasts until Thanksgiving Monday, Oct. 10.

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