Prici­est lift ticket in U.S. not where you’d ex­pect it

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Ja­son Blevins

Vail Re­sorts made a splash last week when a Forbes Mag­a­zine fea­ture on com­pany chief Rob Katz let slip that the re­sort op­er­a­tor’s flag­ship ski area, the 5,300-acre Vail, will likely be ask­ing more than $175 for a walk-up lift ticket this sea­son.

That’s up from $160 last sea­son and, once again, will rank as the prici­est ticket in the coun­try.

Not to be out­done, Sun­light Moun­tain in Glen­wood Springs — al­ways one of the most af­ford­able ski ar­eas in Colorado — this week stepped up with a $700 lift ticket, the Sunny 700.

While the 680-acre Sun­light might not ri­val the Back Bowls or tony vibe of Vail, the Sunny 700 in­cludes a pair of Colorado­made Meier skis and a day pass to the nearby Iron Moun­tain Hot Springs. (A $600 op­tion in­cludes a Meier snow­board rather than skis.)

To cel­e­brate Sun­light’s 50th an­niver­sary, the cus­tom ski mak­ers at Meier, who re­cently moved their shop to Den­ver from the Roar­ing Fork Val­ley, forged bee­tle-kill rides with cus­tom graph­ics de­signed by a Glen­wood Springs artist.

Sun­light — which boasts a chal­leng­ing se­lec­tion of steep, north-fac­ing glades and opens Fri­day — of­fers mid­week day tick­ets for less than $40 and a peak price of $63, mak­ing it one of the most af­ford­able lift tick­ets in the state. The area’s ven­er­a­ble skiand-swim pack­age deals with Glen­wood Springs’ hot springs have long drawn va­ca­tion­ers look­ing for ac­tiv­i­ties be­yond the slopes.

“We are cov­er­ing both bases,” Sun­light’s mar­ket­ing boss Troy Hawks said. “Now we can boast that we have one of the most af­ford­able ski­ing ex­pe­ri­ences in the in­dus­try, as well as the most ex­pen­sive spe­cial one-day lift ticket of­fer­ing in the coun­try.”

As for Vail’s $175 lift ticket, that’s akin to walk­ing into an air­port and buy­ing a plane ticket. The ski area’s web­site of­fers day tick­ets for $159 if pur­chased early. Vail Re­sorts’ 201617 Epic Pass — which hit the mar­ket in March for $809 and is no longer for sale — de­liv­ers un­lim­ited ski­ing at nine of the coun­try’s busiest re­sorts, plus five days at its new­est ac­qui­si­tion, Whistler Black­comb.

Vail Re­sorts is pac­ing to­ward 500,000 Epic Pass sales this sea­son — al­most all sold in the spring, sum­mer and fall — which de­liv­ers the world’s largest re­sort op­er­a­tor nearly a quar­ter-bil­lion dol­lars in rev­enue out­side of its busy ski sea­son.

Cour­tesy of Meier Skis

These cus­tom skis are part of the pack­age for the high­est­priced ski ticket in the U.S.

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