The Indy Pass roster just grew by two with the addition of Solder Mountain and Pomerelle Mountain in Idaho. That brings to total number of location on the Indy Pass to 61. Most are smaller and more affordable than those on the Epic and Ikon passes.
The concept of banding together more “mom and pop” style resorts seems to be working. Creator Doug Fish claims that pass sales are up 725 percent compared to last year. Even at the current price of $259 it is a bargain compared to other options. The pass offers purchasers two days of skiing or snowboarding at each member resort.
The success of the Indy Pass also reinforces a trend indicating that snow sports enthusiasts are more inclined to patronize a local, “drive to” area rather than get on an airplane and fly to more remote, albeit glamorous, destinations.
December is an important month for U.S. destination resorts. They typically charge premium prices during the holidays. According to a DestiMetrics/Inntopia report recently cited by Ski Area Management magazine (SAM), seasonal occupancy at western resorts held steady through December from the previous month, but was down 18.6 percent compared to December 2019. Lodging revenues for the month dropped 27.2 percent partially due to a decline in daily rates charged.
Vail Resorts is feeling the pinch, again citing an article in SAM. Early season/holiday (through January 3) visits at its North American resorts were down 16.6 percent compared to the prior year. And, there were declines in several other categories: lift ticket revenue was down 20.9 percent, food and beverage was down 66.2 percent, snowsports school revenue were down 52.6 percent, and retail/rental was down 39.3 percent.
All of this could change since snow is blanketing the country enticing more people to venture out to the slopes. Regardless of limited capacity being enforced at resorts, one of the side effects of the surge is long lift lines that are being reported on social media posts.
On a recent Baltimore Ski Club sponsored conference call, representatives from Ski PA and West Virginia Ski Areas Association noted that business has been brisk, especially on weekends and that their respective resorts are following the guidelines of the National Ski Areas Association’s “Ski Well, Be Well”. The campaign focuses on mandatory face coverings, social distancing and other safety measures. The podcast is posted on the BSC web site.
Most PA resorts require advanced booking but at least one West Virginia resort – Timberline Mountain – does not. All speakers urged those on the call to do their research before doing any bookings and that advice applies to wherever you live.
Most ski areas large and small require online lift ticket bookings due to Covid. For skiers and snowboarders without a resort-specific season pass or multi-resort pass, a “dynamic pricing platform” such as Liftopia or Get Ski Tickets is a good option for saving some money and booking in advance. For staying local, there is still the option to purchase an Indy Pass for the rest of the season.