OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — Four of the premier independent mountain destinations in the West will offer a combined pass option for the 2012-13 season in an unprecedented move that officials say could set the stage for future collaboration and better promotion of the Lake Tahoe ski industry.
Starting Tuesday, the Mountain Collective Pass — offered via a partnership among Alta, Aspen/Snowmass, Jackson Hole and Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows — is available online through a partnership with Liftopia at www.TheMountainCollective.com, officials announced in a joint press release.
Andy Wirth, CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, which operates Squaw/Alpine, said the concept originated from talks he had last winter with Mike Kaplan, CEO of Aspen Skiing Co., and Jerry Bland, president of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Corporation.
“Today’s announcement was an appropriate and natural follow-up to those conversations,” Wirth said in a Tuesday morning phone interview. “It was very analytical ... based on existing market research we used as a guide to gauge a level of interest. I’m quite confident this is a product that has legs.”
For $349, the Mountain Collective Pass includes two free days at each of the four destinations, plus a 50 percent discount on unlimited lift tickets at each resort, once the complimentary days are used. In addition, passholders will receive exclusive lodging deals throughout the season.
As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, Wirth said he had been contacted by a number of North American resorts and a high-ranking Chinese ski official who had learned of the deal and were interested in learning more.
“This has the potential to not just be a Western product ... it has the potential for global reach,” he said.
Collectively, the pass grants access to eight mountains with more than 16,000 acres of terrain and more than 100 lifts. Youth rates and other options also are available.
“This is a completely new concept for a ski pass and gives winter enthusiasts the freedom to access some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world, “ said Christian Knapp, vice president of marketing, Aspen Skiing Co., in a statement. “There’s been an incredible spirit of collaboration (among) the partners to bring this historic alliance and innovative new product to life.”
Locally, Wirth said the deal serves as another example of the work Squaw is doing to improve not only its image, but also the appeal of the Lake Tahoe ski industry.
“We’re working to reevaluate Squaw Valley Ski Resort’s status as a premier destination resort, something it hasn’t been the past 25 years,” Wirth said.
Tuesday’s announcement comes days after Wirth was honored by Reno-Tahoe Airport Board Chair John Wagnon with a community service award. According to a press release, the award acknowledges Wirth’s ability to understand the role air service plays in sustaining the region’s ski industry.
On Tuesday, Wirth pointed to work he and Squaw staff has done to increase more non-stop flights through the international airport as another example of better promoting and growing the ski industry at Lake Tahoe.
While Wirth said he couldn’t speak to anything larger happening down the road, he did say Tuesday’s announcement be a stepping stone to future collaboration, Wirth said.
“I think it speaks to the level of interest out there about different ways (ski resorts) can combine their efforts,” Wirth said. “Transactions are one way to effect change, of course ... but the interest is there for more opportunities.”
Visit www.TheMountainCollective.com or call 800-705-6286 for more information.