Whistler-Blackcomb announced its pass and ticket prices last week, and as expected the cost of skiing and snowboarding has increased once again — but only slightly.
According to marketing manager Karla Grenon, the price hikes were kept to between two and three per cent to keep pace with inflation, and that’s about it. As always, the early bird pass or Chamber of Commerce Spirit Pass offer the best deals for residents, but there are savings as well for Edge Card holders and other passes.
“What we’ve done is try to keep the regular pass price regular, and pass on the bigger savings to the early birds and Spirit Pass holders,” she said. “We’ve kept any increases to around two to three per cent, which is just inflation and our cost of operating.”
Since the passes went on sale, phones have been ringing off the hook.
“We went on sale on Aug. 29, and definitely our call centres felt it this weekend,” said Grenon. “People are excited about the winter, especially after last winter, and maybe they’ve given up on summer. Early bird sales are really strong at this point, and are probably a little ahead of last year.”
Last season was the second snowiest winter on record for Whistler-Blackcomb, with a total snowfall of 1,416 cm (46 feet) — roughly 40 per cent above average. January was also the snowiest month on record with 469 cm (15 feet) of snow.
The resort also broke two million skier visits again, partly because of the snowfall and partly because resorts in Europe, the U.S., and eastern North America struggled with low snowpacks through the early part of the season.
The price of an adult unlimited season pass bought before Oct. 8 is $1,399, an increase of $30 from the previous season and a saving of $340 from the regular pass price. After Oct. 8 the price will go up to $1,739.
The cost of a parent pass, which is transferable between two parents with the purchase of a child pass, is the same as an unlimited pass.
In 2006, passes for children (7-12) and youth (13-18) were reduced by more than 20 per cent from the previous season, and although prices are increasing slightly this year they are still below 2005 prices. Early bird passes for children are $329, up $10 from last year, while youth passes are now $509, up from $499. On Oct. 9 those prices will go up to $519 and $729 respectively.
For seniors (65-74), early bird passes are $699 and regular passes $849. Super Seniors (75 and up) can ski for $99 or $139 after Oct. 8.
Children aged 6 and under will continue to ski for free.
As well, Whistler-Blackcomb has brought back its family pass program. If you purchase on adult or senior season pass and a youth pass for a youth or child you will receive a 10 per cent discount off the total.
Early bird purchasers will also have the opportunity to take advantage of other discounts and special offers, including three free day tickets (one valid from opening until Dec. 21, one valid all season excluding Dec. 27-30, and one valid from April 7 to June 8). Passholders can also benefit from $300 in equipment and clothing coupons, $125 in ski and snowboard school certificates, and exclusive room rates, and discounts on food and beverage, retail, tickets at other Intrawest resorts, friend discounts, tube park discounts, and various summer discounts.
The Chamber of Commerce Spirit Pass program gets underway on Oct. 9 this year. These discounted passes are available to everyone who is currently employed by a member of the chamber who has completed the three-hour Spirit Program Workshop. It’s worth it, as the price of an unlimited Spirit Pass is just $1,059, up $30 from last year. Details will be announced by the chamber in the coming weeks.
The last thing to keep in mind this year is a new program called Making Winter Winners, which is in place at resorts across Canada. Pass purchasers will have the option of contributing $5 to the Canadian Snowsports Association, which will go towards athletes training for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.