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Crested Butte Ski Resorts

Colorado Ski Visits Down 11%

colorado-ski-map-620x406According to The Colorado Springs Business Journal ski visits across the state of Colorado are down 11.5% so far this season, compared to the same period last year. The Journal sites the lack of snow and late openings for many Colorado resorts as major factors in the drop of skier traffic.

“First period is largely fueled by in-state visitors, and an unseasonably warm October and November kept many Coloradans from tallying lots of ski days” said Melanie Mills, president and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA, a nonprofit industry group that represents several of the state’s largest ski resorts. “Snow did not arrive in earnest until mid-December.”

Despite the slow start, ski areas saw a strong holiday period with conditions more in line with an average year. The New Year started with storms, which bodes well for the rest of the season, she said.

“There is some real buoyancy in the indicators for the months ahead. February and March hotel bookings are pacing ahead of last year by 3.5 percent and 8.6 percent respectively,” Mills said. “Carnival and Easter are well-timed for ski visitation this year and Colorado’s traditional snowier months lie ahead.”.

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Crested Butte Submits New Master Development Plan

Screen-shot-2013-01-17-at-8.30.50-AM-620x405Crested Butte Mountain Resort has submitted its new 2012 Master Development Plan to the U.S. Forest Service for review and acceptance. The plans main goal is to attract and retain destination visitors to the area. The process can be expected to take a minimum of two years.

Lifts

  • Upgrading and relocating the North Face surface lift to a fixed-grip triple chairlift.
  • Relocating Gold Link lift to a new lower area and upgrading it to a detachable quad.
  • Red Lady Lift to be upgraded to a 2,400 person per hour capacity via additional chairs on the cable.
  • The Painter Boy Lift upgraded to a detachable quad.
  • Teocalli Lift to be realigned/extended to the west so that its upper terminal is located adjacent to the top terminal of the Red Lady Express and the future Red Lady Lodge. The MDP seeks approval to upgrade the lift to a fixed-grip or detachable quad.

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Crested Butte Ski Area Lays Out Vision for Growth

indexCrested Butte Mountain Resort’s new master development plan includes visions of adding about 440 acres and two new lifts on its east side.  One goal: to entice more visitors to stay longer at the out-of-the-way destination resort, which is smaller than the Vail, Telluride and Steamboat ski areas. The resort also aims to make itself more appealing to intermediate skiers and snowboarders, not just experts, who will bring their families.

“We’ve done surveys the last three to four years. The number one comment from guests is always, ‘Can you add more terrain?'” said John Sale, the resort’s director of planning and sustainability. On average, customers stay for about 3 1/2 days, which is a shorter than what peer resorts boast, he said. “Once people make the effort to get here, they would love to have additional ski pods to ski.”

The mountain also wants to boost year-round activities so that summer activities make up 30 percent of total revenue, up from roughly one-fourth of overall revenue today. To that end, it envisions adding several miles of biking and multiuse trails.  The U.S. Forest Service is reviewing whether to accept the plan, which lays out a vision of how the resort might grow over the next five to 10 years, rather than an exact outline of what will happen.

It includes adding 440 acres in the Teo Park and Drainage area. It would also add two lifts, a warming hut and ski patrol station in that area. The changes are intended to let intermediate skiers and riders take a chairlift to get to runs with more of a remote, backcountry feel without having to take an expert black diamond trail.

“A lot of times people affiliate Crested Butte with extreme terrain. We’ve got plenty of it. At the same time, the intermediate skier can get that experience without having to huck off double blacks to get there (after the proposed changes),” Sale said.  Other lifts would be upgraded to better distribute visitors on the mountain and improve access to terrain.

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Skiing’s Season Pass Revolution Now Includes Lodging

CBMR-FireworksIn the past two years I have covered the fast evolving world of season ski passes, which are a game changer for ski travelers. This trend just keeps getting better.

The main players I have profiled here are Vail Resorts with its Epic Pass, now good at 13 major resorts across Colorado, Utah, California, Nevada, Michigan and Minnesota, plus partners in Austria and Switzerland. The other major option is The Mountain Collective, a package of discounted lift tickets across several independent powerhouse resorts including Aspen/Snowmass, Jackson, Alta, Snowbird, Whistler/Blackcomb, Mammoth and Alpine Meadows/Squaw Valley. There are also more niche regional products such as Utah’s Ski Salt Lake Super Pass and Colorado’s Rocky Mountain SuperPass.

So what’s the newest wrinkle in the world of ski season passes? Well at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, whose season pass already includes limited free skiing at Okemo in Vermont and Sunapee in New Hampshire, the town’s Nordic Inn has upped the ante considerably with an entirely new concept, combining a traditional season pass with 10 flexible nights of bed and breakfast lodging. This means you can make up to two 5-day trips to Crested Butte to use the pass and each time have a place to stay at no additional charge. Or you can break the ten days up however you want for multiple visits at any time from Nov. 20, 2013 through April 6, 2014, with no blackout dates, and extra days are available as an add-on at a 40% discount. If your schedule is flexible you can chase storms and come just for fresh powder. At the same time, Crested Butte Mountain Resort just lowered its regular adult season pass prices by more than 40 percent, just $599 for a full-season adult ski pass with no blackout dates.

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Crested Butte Drops Price of Season Pass

indexCrested Butte has made a dramatic move in the battle for skier days, dropping the cost of a season pass from $1049 to just $599.  The pass comes with no blackout dates, but partially compensating for the cut, the costs of children’s, young adults and senior passes have been increased from $149 to $199, from $185 to $299 and from $289 to $399, respectively. The resort has also eliminated some other discounts, including multi-day and business passes.

“This is an overall restructuring of our pass-pricing model,” said Erica Reiter, public relations and communications manager for CBMR Reiter, quoted in the Crested Butte News. “In order to make the price decrease of a regular pass work, we had to eliminate some of the previously available options. It’s our hope that the price is such that guests will purchase the Peak Pass and have access to unlimited skiing.”

“With this change we’re working to cater to all our guests,” Reiter told the Crested Butte News. “We hope the local community will be really excited to ski at their home mountain, and we believe that for out-of-area guests the price may encourage more frequent visits. The idea is to build buzz at home, on the Front Range and in new markets.”

2012-13 Skier Visits Creep Up by 4 Percent in Colorado

Arapahoe Basin Ski AreaColorado’s ski areas hosted 11.4 million skier visits last season, a nearly 4 percent increase over the previous season’s 11 million.

The 11.4 million mark, while an increase over the dismal and dry 2011-12 season, is the third-slowest season in the past decade, and the annual increase falls well below the national spike of 11 percent.

Colorado Ski Country USA, the trade group that represents 21 of the state’s 25 ski areas, reported 6.4 million skier visits in 2012-13, an increase of 3.8 percent, or 235,000 skier visits, over 2011-12. Vail Resorts’ four Colorado ski areas — Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone and Beaver Creek — saw about 5 million skier visits.

Colorado’s 2012-13 season started slowly, with weak snow and local skiers staying home. Storms in late December and late spring fueled a rebound in visitation. But it wasn’t enough to pull the state closer to the 12 million-skier-visit benchmark it reached in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011.

Declining skier visits does not necessarily correlate to decreasing revenues, as evidenced by ski areas that saw increased revenues in 2011-12, which saw record declines in visitation.

Holiday Season Starts Early at Crested Butte Ski Resort

It’s not too early to enjoy a Christmas package — especially one that comes before the holidays. Skiers and snowboarders get an early jump on Christmas this year at with a family package (not the kind you wrap) at Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado that kicks in before Dec. 25.

The Grandest Christmas Package is good for those who want to enjoy the slopes as well as tubing and other activities at the on-site Adventure Park. It comes with four nights at the resort’s Grand Lodge, lift tickets for three days and access to the Adventure Park. And there’s the indoor heated pool and steam room to enjoy at the lodge too. The offer is good for Dec. 14-23, based on availability. Reservations must be made by Dec. 16.

Crested Butte Mountain Resort is once again offering free skiing and snowboarding to all visitors on its opening day. The resort plans to open for the season November 21. Until then, it is giving away one free lift ticket per day, with fans of its Facebook page eligible to win.

New Joint Ski Pass Between Crested Butte, Telluride

Winter is on its way and so are some new ticket deals that offer days in both Telluride and Crested Butte — with no blackout dates.

A new pass called the Ultimate 6 Pass offers up to three days in Telluride and three in Crested Butte. The pass has been put together as a promotional effort between Telluride Ski & Golf and the Crested Butte Mountain Resort. The pass is only available in limited numbers, and though the exact number of passes has not been released, they are available now for $399 at Liftopia.

“Basically it’s stemming from Crested Butte participating with the Telluride Montrose Regional Air Organization,” said Telski Communications Director Tom Watkinson. “It’s helping to bring people to both resorts, and this is a great way to do that.”

The Crested Butte Mountain Resort announced in late October that it will be a private supporter of the TMRAO, namely the organization’s newest airline, Allegiant. As part of the deal, marketing efforts would be aimed at air passengers focusing on Telluride as well as Crested Butte.

Watkinson said the pass also offers a 20 percent discount on tickets at either resort if someone wants to go over the three days offered.

Telluride and Crested Butte are roughly 158 miles apart by road, with Montrose between them.

While the Ultimate 6 Pass is a good deal to hit up both resorts, Telski and Crested Butte are also offering their season pass holders a half-price deal for single-day tickets. If a Crested Butte or Telski season pass holder wants to buy a day ticket at the other resort, they are eligible to get it at half price. However, Watkinson said the half price deal does include some blackout dates, notably around the holidays.

Telski will be selling discount season passes and other passes at the KOTO Ski Swap Saturday at the Wilkinson Public Library.

This year, Telski is also selling a special three-day pass option for those with passes to Powderhorn Mountain Resort near Grand Junction.

“We figure Junction is such a big market for regional skiers, that we’re offering a three-day pass at $169 with the purchase of a Powderhorn pass season,” Watkinson said. “There’s no blackout dates and it’s available immediately.”

Telski plans to open on Thanksgiving.

Colorado Ski Areas Likely to Start Making Snow This Week

In what sounds like good news for ski resorts eager to start making snow, the National Weather Service is forecasting a strong cold front to drop out of Canada mid-week, with overnight lows dropping into the teens and 20s starting Wednesday night.

That’s plenty cold to fire up the snow guns, which have already been moved into position at Arapahoe Basin and Loveland, the two resorts that traditionally compete for opening day honors. Starting Wednesday, nighttime lows should stay well below freezing, especially at the higher elevations.

A similar weather pattern prevailed last year, with a significant snowfall dusting the higher terrain around the Continental Divide Oct. 8. Arapahoe Basin opened a few days later, on Oct. 12.

Tuesday looks to be the nicest day of the week if you like sunny and warm weather, with highs climbing into to 60s. By Wednesday, highs will only reach the mid 50s as cooler air rushes down from central Canada. At this point, there looks to be just enough moisture with the system to trigger a few showers that could change over to snow down to valley levels Wednesday night and into Thursday.

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Crested Butte Resort Marks 12-12-12 With Ski Deal

Crested Butte Mountain Resort is marking Dec. 12, 2012, with a special deal.

On Wednesday, 12/12/12 after 12:30 p.m., visitors can buy half-day lift tickets for $12. Half-day tickets this time of year are usually $45.

The date also is special for Ski Granby Ranch. That’s when the northern Colorado ski area will start its ski season.

Some Colorado resorts are still waiting for more snow before holding opening day. Monarch Mountain and Aspen Highlands have pushed back the start of their ski seasons while they wait for the weather to cooperate.