The multi-resort ski lift ticket is big business these days, but does it make sense for you to purchase one? Let’s look at what’s on offer and how you can get the best value out of an Epic Pass…
What is an Epic Pass?
The Epic Pass was born in 2008 as a way to use one season ticket for resorts under the ownership of Vail Resorts. What started then with 5 resorts in Colorado, plus 1 in California, has now become a network of 37 North American resorts plus 20+ international friends.
There’s no escaping the fact that these passes are designed to suit their biggest audience – the USA – more than any other demographic: not many people have ever called Ski Independence clamouring for a ski trip to Brandywine, Ohio; or Wilmot, Wisconsin! But if one of those was your local ski resort, and you could get a great value season ticket that let you ski there and covered your lift access in Whistler or Vail, you’d definitely choose Whistler or Vail for your holiday!
By offering great value for season tickets and early bookers, Vail Resorts have created a culture where buying an Epic Pass has become a springtime habit for a lot of skiers. It’s smart work from Vail, and while their approach isn’t to everyone’s taste, they do invest a lot of money in infrastructure too. As I write, new lifts are going in at Whistler, Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City and Heavenly ready for Winter 2022/23…
So what’s in it for the international client?
Great value for a start. If booked early, the highest priced Epic Season Pass (for unlimited all-winter access to their greatest hits, as well as all the rest) costs only around the same as a 13 day ticket to a European resort. In line with European lift passes you pay upfonrt, and refunds are only possible under limited circumstances.
Still, booking early has its benefits: you get the best of the flight and accommodation deals – and more time to look forward to your holiday too!
And there’s no denying that having all of these resorts on a single ticket makes skiing multiple resorts – or taking more than one trip – really appealing.
Getting the most out of your Epic Pass…
Multi-resort trips in the USA & Canada
A lot of the resorts covered by the Epic Pass are in different states and provinces, so a road trip isn’t necessarily too practical, but there are resorts that are grouped together: Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone are all within an hour’s drive of each other in Colorado. Crested Butte and Telluride are within scope for the more adventurous, whilst Heavenly, Kirkwood and Northstar make a good Californian adventure.
There are many great multi-centre options to consider in North America: some will link with transfers, some need a self-drive car and some connect by train or require an extra flight – or you may even need a winter-ready motorhome. Our Ski Specialists have the expert knowledge to advise you on what works, and how it can be done in the most effective way.
Epic Passes in Europe
The European access provided by the Epic Pass family is only ever going to be good value for a secondary trip, not to replace a standard European resort ticket if that’s your only holiday. So, what if you need a lift ticket that covers you for Vail, but you also want a weekend in Courchevel? The Epic Pass is almost certainly a good buy for you!
It’s worth saying that European resort access only comes with the full Epic Season Pass, not day passes or Epic Local passes (of course there’s an exception – bear with me…). So let’s say you have an Epic Season Pass for your trip to North America and you fancy doing a European trip too. What are your options? Well, your pass entitles you to ski up to 7 days in the Italian Skirama Dolomiti – covering Madonna di Campiglio and Pinzolo where we feature some impressive hotels. You can also go to the Three Valleys in France, where your Epic Pass entitles you to 7 days of skiing and we can find you the perfect place to stay from our hand-picked range in Val Thorens, Courchevel and Méribel. Access to Verbier and St Anton is also possible for up to 5 days – but does come with a few caveats that make it a little more complicated, as you’re required to stay in specific accommodation, which we can’t arrange for you.
But, new for this year – and really exciting – you can ski Andermatt in Switzerland, as much as you like. The Epic Pass gives you full access to this gem located in central Switzerland. And this is the aforementioned exception to the rule – Epic Local pass holders can ski up to 5 days in Andermatt as well.
Weekend at the Chedi, anyone?
So that’s the lowdown on Epic Passes. They’re on sale now and at their best value price until the end of May 2022. How will you use yours?