It’s international, intercontinental, even inter-HEMISPHERAL. Could the Epic Pass be the best season pass money can buy?
The haters don’t hesitate to call ‘Vail Sucks’ at every new announcement on Vail Resorts’ apparent march to global domination, but no-one can deny the two bombshells they’ve dropped this summer: first the news about the billion dollar acquisition of Whistler Blackcomb, and now the latest expansion of the Epic season pass to some of Europe’s biggest and best resorts… Say what you want about the corporation but Vail are on a roll, and offer a seriously attractive package – spanning most of the skiable world! – that should be on the radar of any travelling skier.
The Epic Pass was already one of the best season passes in North America, providing unlimited access to some of America’s top resorts like Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Park City and Kirkwood (plus Perisher in Australia for snowy summer fun) – a total of 13 ski resorts, 35,160 acres, and 302 lifts. As Vail moves to conquer Europe, some of the biggest ski areas in the Alps and Dolomites are added to that:
- Les 3 Vallees (Courchevel, La Tania, Meribel, Brides les Bains, Les Menuires, Saint Martin de Bellevelle, Val Thorens and Orelle)
- Paradiski (Les Arcs, Peisey-Vallandry and La Plagne)
- Espace Killy (Tignes and Val D’Isere)
- Skirama Dolomiti (Madonna di Campiglio, Pinzolo, Folgarida-Marilleva, Peio, Ponte di Legno – Tonale, Andalo – Fai della Paganella, Monte Bondone and Folgarida – Lavarone)
- 4 Vallees (Verbier, Nendaz, Veysonnaz and Thyon)
- Arlberg (St Anton Lech, Zurs, Stuben, St. Christoph, Sonnenkopf, Warth-Schröcken)
“There is nothing in the ski industry today that can compare to the value of the Epic Pass,” said Kirsten Lynch, chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts. “The value of the Epic Pass is giving skiers and snowboarders the flexibility to ski when they want and the choice to ski where they want, and the variety of experiences our resorts offer, whether it’s the iconic slopes of Vail or Park City, or the grandeur and tradition of Europe, which should be on the bucket list of every skier or snowboarder. Whether you ski five days or 100, no pass is tailored to the way skiers and snowboarders actually want to access the best mountains in the world like the Epic Pass.”
The pass costs $809*, and with US lift ticket prices pays for itself in around five days of skiing over the Pond. While unquestionably a great deal if you plan to ski a lot in the States, it’s not quite so good as it sounds if the majority of your skiing will be in Europe. Firstly skiing is not unlimited in Europe: pass holders receive 2 consecutive days at each of the French areas, 5 days in the 4 Vallees, 3 days in the Arlberg and 3 days in Skirama Dolomiti. Additionally, pass holders can only claim the lift pass in Austria and Switzerland when staying in approved accommodation. However on the flipside Superskirama Pass holders get 3 free days skiing in Vail Resorts, Tarentaise season pass holders get 6 days, and 4 Vallées Annual lift pass holders can claim 5 days.
*The Epic Pass costs $809 (guaranteed lowest price of the season) if bought by 5 September. You can buy it at www.snow.com.