Whistler Blackcomb is giving new meaning to "early bird savings," with a deal to freeze next winter's season pass at this year's record low price if bought before April 30.
The Adult Unlimited pass for the 2010-11 season will cost $1,099 if bought in the next five weeks. It's the first time winter passes have ever been made available in the spring. If skiers and riders invest in the super early bird deal it translates to a savings of $300 off the regular early bird specials.
Stuart Rempel, Whistler Blackcomb's senior vice president of marketing and sales, called it "a fantastic deal" and put it in perspective: "This is a 28 per cent savings over the early bird price of two years ago."
The rationale for the company's decision, he said, was that when the $1,099 pass was offered this season, the lowest price in a decade because of access challenges around the 2010 Olympics, more people bought the pass than ever before and used their pass more than ever before.
"Certainly it hasn't offset the decline in the destination business because of the (Olympic and economic) aversion but our local and regional guests have figured out how to come up here and enjoy themselves this winter," said Rempel.
"We thought with the great new highway, the Peak 2 Peak, all the stuff going on in the mountains and no parking issues and being basically back to normal but with a fantastic highway link, we felt that we could move a lot of people from 10-day, 15-day, midweek passes, up to full season's passes."
Another factor that was considered, added Rempel, was the impact of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), to be implemented across the province July 1. The HST will add another 7 per cent tax on a variety of things once exempt from the Provincial Sales Tax (PST). Lift tickets and passes, which have always been subject to the 5 per cent Goods and Services Tax, will be subject to the 12 per cent HST starting July 1.
"This is a way to avoid it," said Rempel.
The normal early bird price, after this deal passes, is $1,299 plus HST for a total cost of $1,455. The super early bird deal is $1,099 plus five per cent GST for a total cost of $1,154.
The Spirit Pass program will be launched in the fall and the price planned at this point is $1,099.
In the fall, however, that price will have the HST for a total of $1,231.
"If you purchase this now you would be saving the seven per cent," said Rempel, adding that most people who buy the Spirit Pass come to Whistler in the fall.
Next season's five- and 10-day EDGE card prices have also been frozen at $309 and $564 respectively.
The passes are available at whistlerblackcomb.com or by calling 1-866-218-9689.