Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Vail Resorts end pass partnership; VR announces new ‘Keystone Plus Pass’

Light shines on Arapahoe Basin Ski Area's East Wall as seen on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018. Hugh Carey / [email protected]

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area announced Monday it will not continue its pass partnership program with Vail Resorts next season.

In a statement announcing the news on its website, officials with A-Basin pointed to “a pinch on parking and facility space” as a reason for the breakup.

“Due to these constraints,” the statement read, “Arapahoe Basin believes its staff can take better care of its guests by separating from Vail Resorts.”

“With diverse ski runs including some of the most intense terrain in North America and a culinary operation that is regularly listed among the top 10 in the country, the ski area has developed a very special community that feels like home,” A-Basin chief operating officer Alan Henceroth wrote. “In order to continue to build on this spirit and the experience we have created, Arapahoe Basin and Vail Resorts will not be renewing their pass partnership for the 2019/2020 season.”

The announcement cited the growth both in popularity and skier visitation the ski area has seen after investing 40 million dollars over the last 15 years. On his A-Basin blog, Henceroth provided more explanation behind A-Basin’s perspective on the end of the partnership, and also said although there is that pinch on parking and facility space, the mountain “still has plenty of room for skiers and riders.”

“Looking forward,” Henceroth wrote, “we strive to provide ready and easy access for our guests. Our goal is to minimize waiting and crowding and maximize experiences and fun.”

The COO added that currently the ski area has no new partnerships to announce, however, in the coming months A-Basin will be discussing opportunities with several resorts and resort groups.

 

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area chief operating officer Alan Henceroth comments on A-Basin and Vail Resorts severing ties for the 2019-20 ski season and the possibility of A-Basin entering into an agreement with another ski area or group.

Posted by Summit Daily News on Monday, February 18, 2019

“Skiers and riders that call A-Basin home can feel good knowing the resort will still offer tremendous value and exceptional mountain experiences,” Henceroth continued on his blog. “These actions are designed to preserve that special culture and vibe people expect when they choose to spend a day at The Basin. The future for Arapahoe Basin is very bright.”

The COO also clarified that the 2018-19 Vail Resorts season passes will remain valid at A-Basin for the remainder of the 2018-19 season.

Vail Resorts announces new ‘Keystone Plus Pass’
Shortly after A-Basin announced the end of the partnership, Vail Resorts released its own statement announcing the “Keystone Plus Pass,” a new option to replace the Keystone A-Basin Pass.

In its statement, officials with Vail Resorts said the new pass will provide unlimited access to Keystone Resort with holiday restrictions, unlimited late spring skiing at Breckenridge Ski Resort starting April 1 and five days at Crested Butte, with holiday restrictions. The pass will have a starting price of $369 for adults and $259 for kids. The Keystone Plus Pass will go on sale when Epic Pass products launch in spring 2019.

The Keystone A-Basin Pass has historically been a popular choice among Summit County locals and transient skiers alike as a reasonably priced pass (less than $400) that provides an ability to ski and ride not only at the two destinations located just miles from one another, but also night skiing at Keystone.

Vail Resorts also announced that beginning next season, all of the company’s unlimited season pass products will include 10 buddy tickets, which is an increase from the six previously offered on the Epic Pass, Epic Local Pass, Summit Value Pass. Buddy tickets are daily lift tickets offered at a flat discounted rate for friends and family of pass holders. This will be included with the Keystone Plus Pass, Tahoe Local Pass, and Tahoe Value Pass when purchased before the customary April deadline.

“We are excited to offer a new pass that provides skiing and riding from mid-October through Memorial Day at Keystone and Breckenridge, at an incredible value,” said Kirsten Lynch, chief marketing officer for Vail Resorts, in the statement. “We want to thank Arapahoe Basin for their partnership for over 20 years. We are disappointed but given the success they have had and their recent investments into the resort, we respect that this is the right time for them to move in a different direction.”

In its release, Vail Resorts also pointed to how it is positioning for both Keystone and Breckenridge resorts to offer “one of the longest ski and snowboard seasons in the country.” In recent months, Vail Resorts announced capital investments into Keystone Resort’s snowmaking that the company hopes will help position the resort to be the first to open in the U.S. The company also announced that, pending U.S. Forest Service approval, Breckenridge Ski Resort will annually extend winter seasons through Memorial Day, extending its season by more than a month.

Historically, along with Loveland Ski Area in neighboring Clear Creek County, A-Basin has been the first or one of the first ski areas to open in the country. It also typically stays open later than most any other resort in the country.