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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.

Christy Sports in Dillon Now Open!

by Summit Daily

Almost one year after the Christy Sports Ski and Patio in Dillon tore down its building to create a “signature store” in its place, the business is back with a spacious new structure that’s hard to overlook.

Christy Sports has more than 55 locations across four states, making it one of the largest specialty retailers of winter sports gear in the U.S. However, the company has only four signature stores, including ones in Avon, Boulder and Park Meadows.

The newest signature store is more than 17,000 square feet and occupies a prominent location at West Anemone Trail and Highway 6 in Dillon, just off one of Summit County’s most traveled thoroughfares.

“We’re loving it,” said Andy Turner, a sales associate with five years of experience at Christy Sports. “It’s an amazing store to work in, and we have a ton of space to work with; that’s what I like the most.”

The additional space wasn’t lost on a man and woman who live Keystone and were leaving the store Tuesday after securing some demo gear for late-season skiing. Having known the old store, its wonky layout and limited space, they both appreciated the new building.

“I think it’s beautiful and the service is really friendly,” the woman said. “We’ve been going to Christy’s for many years and it’s good. My only complaint is (the new building) blocks the view when you come down the hill.”

The friendly, helpful customer experience is exactly what Christy Sports in Dillon hopes to reproduce again and again, both with its new building and its staff, explained Brian Sullivan, Christy Sports’ director of operations in Summit County and Winter Park.

With the new building, Christy Sports is also planning a grand-opening celebration sometime next fall, just ahead of the 2019-20 ski season. However, right now the workers are just happy to be settling into the new space, as they reopened the business inside the new building on Saturday.

Construction is all but done, yet some landscaping work remains. Still, anyone who’s driven through Dillon this winter has likely noticed the massive building that’s punctuated by large windows.

“This is the newest signature store for Christy Sports,” said general manager Adam Gillespie, as he led the newspaper on a tour of the new building and its three floors on Tuesday.

A wide-open sales floor with vaulted ceilings welcomes customers inside. With racks of socks, helmets and everything in between, Christy Sports has all of the necessary winter gear, from warm base layers to protective ski shells and pants, that someone might need for a day on the slopes.

Up a flight of stairs underneath large white letters that read “We Love Snow,” customers will find Christy Sports’ new skis, ski boots and its rental equipment, including packages for skiers and snowboarders with different styles and experience.

With 100-plus models on the ski wall, Gillespie said, Christy Sports carries all of the biggest brands. However, the highlight of the second floor is probably the building’s floor-to-ceiling windows, which take up the northwest corner of the floor to reveal spectacular views of Buffalo Mountain and Silverthorne below.

“It really brings the outside in,” Gillespie said. “Honestly, I think it’s one of the coolest buildings in the county.”

Employees boast the new store will also have the “biggest rental fleet” in Summit County, and downstairs from the main floor resides the ski shop and some office space on the garden level. Altogether, it’s a building that’s been custom-made to Christy Sports’ liking.

This comes after Christy Sports’ old store was carved out of a building that once housed multiple businesses. Eventually, Christy Sports took over the whole building and — with a few remodeling projects — made it work for as long as the business could.

“But it just wasn’t enough for the community and for what we were trying to do,” Gillespie said, adding that they had simply outgrown the old building.

And so the decision was made to knock it down and rebuild on the site. Gillespie said the entire project was more than five years in the making, and during the year that Christy Sports was locked in construction work, the business was grateful to find a temporary home inside the Outlets at Silverthorne.

During the demolition, he added, many of the materials were recycled, as Gillespie said that Christy Sports did its best to prevent them from going into the landfill.

“To pull this size of a project off … we just feel really, really excited and happy how well we all came together as a team,” he said.

In mid-May, the Dillon store will retool its inventory and bring in a wide variety of outdoor patio furniture. Gillespie said he doesn’t think anyone will beat their selection, while Sullivan added that it all means people won’t have to drive down to Denver to get what they want.

Christy Sports was founded in 1958. The company’s headquarters are in Lakewood and now has over 55 locations in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Washington.

Additionally, the Christy Sports in Dillon will again offer its Powder Daze Sale for Labor Day weekend, which has become a hugely popular event, especially among locals looking for bargains.

 

VRBO ranks Breckenridge top destination among US ski resorts

by Eli Pace Summit Daily

This photo shows a Breckenridge home that rents for $5,000 a night on average. The popular website accommodations company has tagged Breckenridge as the most popular ski destination for the 2019-20 ski season based on the company’s data.
Courtesy of VRBO.com

 

Surprise, surprise, it’s Breckenridge — again.

The Summit County resort town consistently ranked among the top destinations in Colorado and the U.S. has just been pinpointed by VRBO.com as “the most popular ski season destination among travelers for the 2018-19 ski season.”

A VRBO spokeswoman said the travel accommodations website won’t reveal how many guest arrivals or booked nights there were for Breckenridge properties, but she confirmed that the town is in higher demand than any other comparable destination for VRBO.com.

Behind Breckenridge was Park City, Utah, followed by Mammoth Lakes, California, in third, according to VRBO’s rankings.

While VRBO won’t release figures on bookings, some of the statistics that it did publicize regarding the short-term rentals in Breckenridge were jaw dropping.

Based on the properties listed with its website, VRBO says vacation-rental homeowners in the Breckenridge area can charge over $3,325 a week renting out their homes at peak times during the ski season.

The spokeswoman said that figure — derived from a $475 nightly rate — was taken on average and does not simply reflect VRBO’s most expensive rentals, which can run up to $5,000 a night in Breckenridge.

The numbers don’t include any of VRBO’s fees, either, the spokeswoman said, adding that the data points should be taken as “ballpark figures” for what homeowners in Breckenridge might charge listing their homes with VRBO.

“What you would actually net is specific to (the situation),” she explained, adding that the company has different working models for homeowners that can affect the owners’ incomes.

But over half of all VRBO owners use that income to cover at least 75 percent of their mortgage payments, said Bill Furlong, vice president of VRBO’s North American business, in a prepared statement.

And statistics like these are the primary reason Breckenridge’s elected leaders have asked town staff to start segregating short-term rentals from the town’s overall lodging category in the monthly sales tax reports.

That request followed Airbnb.com tagging Summit County as the top mountain destination in Colorado last year with 275,300 guest arrivals and $57 million in host income, second in the state to only Denver.

In 2017, Airbnb ranked Breckenridge second in both guest visits and rental income statewide by itself with two other Summit County locales — Keystone and Silverthorne — making the top 10 before Airbnb began lumping all of Summit County together.

Unlike Airbnb, VRBO also released a list of the top origin cities showing where these guests are coming from.

In contrast with Vail, which largely relies on major metropolitan areas across the U.S., like New York or Atlanta, for many of its travelers — a host of Colorado cities are responsible for a lot of Breckenridge’s guests, according to VRBO.

Ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively, Denver and Colorado Springs accounted for the highest number of travelers booking Breckenridge through VRBO. The town also saw a strong turnout from Texans with Austin, Houston and Dallas filling out the bottom three slots of Breckenridge’s top five origin cities.

At No. 7, Chicago managed to crack Breckenridge’s top 10 origin cities, but Colorado reigned king locally with Littleton, Aurora, Fort Collins and Highlands Ranch filling out the remainder of Breckenridge’s top 10 list.

“The traveler origins tell you a lot about the appeal of specific destinations,” the VRBO spokeswoman said.

Additionally, it might influence rental rates. That’s because Park City homeowners could charge $690 a night, according to VRBO, while Vail’s homeowners could get top-dollar at $730 a night.

As for the homes being rented out by VRBO, the company’s “Premier Partner Properties” in Breckenridge are certainly nice ones, but they’re not necessarily the multimillion-dollar, mountain-modern mansions with ski-in, ski-out access.

One of the featured homes is a three-bedroom, three-bathroom condo with 1,550 square feet in the heart of downtown. It advertises comfortable accommodations for up to eight to nine people and rents for around the VRBO average.

Conversely, the one that charges $5,000 a night has eight bedrooms and five-and-a-half bathrooms with 4,600 square feet and advertises sleeping accommodations for up to 17 people.

Top U.S. ski destinations for 2018-19 ski season

According to data compiled by the accomodations website VRBO.com, these are the most popular ski destinations in the U.S. for the 2018-19 ski season.

1. Breckenridge

2. Park City, Utah

3. Mammoth Lakes, California

4. Grand County

5. Squaw Valley, California

6. South Lake Tahoe, California

7. Vail and Beaver Creek

8. Poconos Mountains, Pennsylvania

9. Bend, Oregon

10. Steamboat Springs

Source: VRBO.com

This winter is the wettest on record for the contiguous United States

by Deepan Dutta Summit Daily

This winter is the wettest on record for the contiguous United States


Andy Richmond clears snow off his driveway along Pitkin Street Thursday, March 7, in Frisco. Record or near record rain and snow across the country led to the wettest winter on record in the Lower 48 states.
Hugh Carey / [email protected]

The past two winters have certainly been a tale of two seasons. Despite the dry season last year, the 2018-19 winter is officially the record-holder for most precipitation in the history of the contiguous United States.

The National Centers for Environmental Information, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, released a report this week revealing that strong precipitation from coast to coast resulted in the wettest December to February span — which is what the NOAA designates as “winter” — since record-keeping began.

The Lower 48’s winter precipitation total was 9.01 inches, which is 2.22 inches above average and the most precipitation dropped in a single winter, beating the 1997-98 winter by two-hundredths of an inch. February 2019 was narrowly beaten out by February 1998 for wettest February ever recorded by only a tenth of an inch.

The strong precipitation was notably felt with record or near-record rainfall or snow in the Tennessee and Ohio valleys in the mid-south, the Great Lakes region, northern plains and the Northwest, but Colorado’s mountains have also had above-average precipitation going into March.

Somewhat ironically, temperatures in the Lower 48 have actually been a bit above average across the country, at 33.4 degrees Fahrenheit. That is 1.2 degrees above average and ranks in the warmest third of the past 125 years. That is somewhat offset by the fact that February was colder than average at 32 degrees, 1.8 degrees below average and in the coldest third of recorded history.

In Colorado, the winter’s wet bounty has been pretty apparent. Even though there’s a long way to go to make up for previous deficits, drought has lessened in severity across the state.

Summit County is now experiencing a “moderate drought” and 58 percent of the state is still experiencing some form of drought. That is a far cry better than last summer, when over 80 percent of the state was experiencing drought. Record water deficits, especially in southwestern Colorado, led to one of the worst wildfire seasons in memory.

As far as the stuff that Summiters care about the most, snowpack totals are very healthy in the county and across the state. The Upper Colorado River Basin is seeing snowpack at 132 percent of the median, while statewide snowpack is 129 percent of median.

The ski resorts are certainly happy with the snowbound late winter and early spring. Breckenridge Ski Resort has been the king of the pow in the county, reporting 81 inches of snow over the past seven days. Keystone and Copper are reporting getting 65 and 63 inches over the past seven days.

Despite the great news about snow, avalanches remain a serious concern in the High Country. Historic avalanche conditions set off hundreds of small and large avalanches across the state in the first week of March, with several fatalities recorded in the backcountry.

At the moment, Vail and Summit County are still under an avalanche warning, with “high” avalanche danger above, at and below tree line. The combination of heavy snow and warming temperatures is leaving a very fragile snowpack on the mountains on the verge of crumbling.

As has been the case for the past week, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center strongly recommends against any travel on or near avalanche terrain. “Exceptional” avalanches in the area have exceeded historic runouts, spreading across valley floors farther than ever before and making the snow slides even more dangerous.

“Do not try and second-guess these conditions,” the CAIC stated in their Saturday morning update for the Vail and Summit region. “Any human-triggered avalanche will be massive and hard to survive.”

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Allison Simson, Owner/Broker, is a licensed Colorado Real Estate Broker