With snow falling in the upper alpine in the latest storm cycle and the summer tourism season winding down, most Whistlerites are already turning thoughts to winter.
On cue, Whistler-Blackcomb released its season pass prices this week, offering bundled passes with Peak 2 Peak gondola access and setting the price for one day passes to use the new lift.
Stuart Rempel, vice president marketing and sales for Whistler-Blackcomb, said pass price increases were kept low and that the price for a pass that included Peak 2 Peak access is nominal.
“We’re trying to provide the best possible value,” he said. “Certainly we did a lot of research about what people felt the (Peak 2 Peak) experience would be worth and priced it accordingly. The Peak 2 Peak gives people a lot more opportunities for skiing, certainly in the early and late season, and more options on bad weather days as well, which was the whole idea for building it.”
Rempel said that sightseeing is also built into the price, with access to the Peak 2 Peak for almost 200 days during the ski season, and 319 days in total including summer sightseeing.
The cost of an early bird season pass for 2008-09 — available from Aug. 27 to Oct. 13 — is $1,529 including Peak 2 Peak access and $1,460 without, a difference of $69.
A season pass last season was $1,399, which is an increase of $61 or just over four per cent.
This year’s pass includes a $125 gift certificate for ski or snowboard lessons, $150 in retail coupons, a 20 per cent discount on food and beverages, and three “bring a friend” tickets that include Peak 2 Peak gondola access, which are valued at more than $240.
At any time during the season pass holders can add Peak 2 Peak access for $89, or purchase a day pass for $7. Also, families purchasing adult and child passes can receive 10 per cent off the total price.
For the roughly 5,000 people who work for Chamber of Commerce businesses that purchase discounted Whistler-Blackcomb Spirit Passes each year, a pass will cost $1,149 this season — a $90 increase over last year — which includes access to the Peak 2 Peak gondola.
Spirit Pass purchasers cannot opt out of the Peak 2 Peak pass, which is optional for most people purchasing tickets and passes.
Rempel explained that it was necessary.
“Spirit Pass holders are what we call our mountain ambassadors, they are leaders in the community and we want them to have the Peak 2 Peak experience — to be a good ambassador for Whistler you need to understand and appreciate the value that (the Peak 2 Peak Gondola) brings to guests that come to the resort,” he said. “It is a heavily discounted pass in the first place, and we want everyone who is a Spirit Pass holder to use the Peak 2 Peak.”