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2017/18 lift ticket prices

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I find the lift ticket price charts from NESI to be interesting. You can see the dramatic price difference between Vermont and New Hampshire. Maybe it's a function of competition with NH having fewer tourist skiers and more ski areas? In Vermont, 6 of the 17 ski areas are $100 or more. No ski areas in New Hampshire has reached that price point.

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The difference is insane. The Vermont mountains have always been more luxury oriented (Stowe, Stratton, Okemo, etc) in addition to being more crowded. 

The jump Sugarbush made this year is nuts too.

I'll bet Loon and BW both go over $100 next year.

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VT areas are MUCH larger than NH areas for the most part. Bigger is often perceived as better, so they can charge a higher price and appear to be offering the same value for the money if not better. $115 to ski Killington is a better value than paying $93 to ski Sunapee

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Just as in real estate . . . location, location, location.  An 8-hour lift ticket at Massanutten in northern VA is $74 on weekends.  That's for 75 acres of groomed trails where the two blacks from the summit are easier than many blues in the northeast.  Rates are comparable elsewhere in the southeast for runs that take an advanced skier 3 min to finish and perhaps 5 min for a confident intermediate.  Total vertical about 1100'.

A lift ticket at Alta is about $100 for 2200 acres.  Big Sky is $115 advanced purchase online for 5000+ acres.

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11 minutes ago, deadheadskier said:

VT areas are MUCH larger than NH areas for the most part. Bigger is often perceived as better, so they can charge a higher price and appear to be offering the same value for the money if not better. $115 to ski Killington is a better value than paying $93 to ski Sunapee

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It looks like the bigger NH areas are a better value than the bigger VT areas, IMO. $85 for Attitash, $95 for Loon, $93 for BW compared to $100 for Mt. Snow, $115 for Stratton, $110 for Okemo? 

However, the smaller NH areas aren't charging much less than the bigger ones! That isn't as true in VT though where there's a distinct drop off and some really good values in there, relatively speaking of course. $93 for Sunapee is ridiculous, $88 for Gunstock. Compared to Jay, Bromley, and Smuggs all under $85... makes no sense. 

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18 minutes ago, deadheadskier said:

VT areas are MUCH larger than NH areas for the most part. Bigger is often perceived as better, so they can charge a higher price and appear to be offering the same value for the money if not better. $115 to ski Killington is a better value than paying $93 to ski Sunapee

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Even on a weekend when both are crowded?  Does Killington get more crowded?  I never ski in the northeast on midseason weekends so have no idea how to do a comparison in terms of "value" for those who can't ski midweek.

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2 minutes ago, Jully said:

It looks like the bigger NH areas are a better value than the bigger VT areas, IMO. $85 for Attitash, $95 for Loon, $93 for BW compared to $100 for Mt. Snow, $115 for Stratton, $110 for Okemo? 

However, the smaller NH areas aren't charging much less than the bigger ones! That isn't as true in VT though where there's a distinct drop off and some really good values in there, relatively speaking of course. $93 for Sunapee is ridiculous, $88 for Gunstock. Compared to Jay, Bromley, and Smuggs all under $85... makes no sense. 

How do the season pass prices compare for these places?  Some are MAX Pass, some are Peak, others are independents.

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Even on a weekend when both are crowded?  Does Killington get more crowded?  I never ski in the northeast on midseason weekends so have no idea how to do a comparison in terms of "value" for those who can't ski midweek.
I think it's much easier to avoid crowds at Killington on a weekend than it is Sunapee

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12 minutes ago, deadheadskier said:

I think it's much easier to avoid crowds at Killington on a weekend than it is Sunapee

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Would that be true for an intermediate?  I can understand for an advanced skier given that Kton has multiple mountains.  In the same way that it's possible to get away from the crowd at Sunday River.  Have only spent half a day at Sunapee during very early season when a couple of trails were open, so don't quite have a sense of the entire place.

I'm asking because sometimes I answer questions from folks in the southeast or Mid-Atlantic who are thinking of driving north for a long weekend.  Meaning people who have never skied a mountain with more than 1200 ft vertical before.

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17 minutes ago, MarzNC said:

Would that be true for an intermediate?  I can understand for an advanced skier given that Kton has multiple mountains.  In the same way that it's possible to get away from the crowd at Sunday River.  Have only spent half a day at Sunapee during very early season when a couple of trails were open, so don't quite have a sense of the entire place.

I'm asking because sometimes I answer questions from folks in the southeast or Mid-Atlantic who are thinking of driving north for a long weekend.  Meaning people who have never skied a mountain with more than 1200 ft vertical before.

Someone who skis Killington a bit more could probably help, but in my experience Killington is so big that as an intermediate on a busy weekend as long as you shy away from greater northern and the K1 you can generally have a decent time off the other lifts? Especially the blues off the bear mountain and skyship when they are open?

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1 hour ago, deadheadskier said:

I think it's much easier to avoid crowds at Killington on a weekend than it is Sunapee

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45 minutes ago, MarzNC said:

Would that be true for an intermediate?  I can understand for an advanced skier given that Kton has multiple mountains.  In the same way that it's possible to get away from the crowd at Sunday River.  Have only spent half a day at Sunapee during very early season when a couple of trails were open, so don't quite have a sense of the entire place.

I'm asking because sometimes I answer questions from folks in the southeast or Mid-Atlantic who are thinking of driving north for a long weekend.  Meaning people who have never skied a mountain with more than 1200 ft vertical before.

While not as easy for an intermediate compared to an advanced skier, it is still definitely true. Sunapee has their two express quads (guaranteed to be jammed midseason Saturdays) and then no other lifts for an intermediate. Their triple is serving primarily advanced terrain and the other lifts the terrain park.

At Kton there are so many lifts at so many peaks that all have at least one or two intermediate options (except Canyon pretty much) it is very doable. Just as easy as at Sunday River.

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VT areas are MUCH larger than NH areas for the most part. Bigger is often perceived as better, so they can charge a higher price and appear to be offering the same value for the money if not better. $115 to ski Killington is a better value than paying $93 to ski Sunapee

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I agree that there is a 'perception' that bigger is better and is therefore worth more money. However, in practice I think there is a tipping point to that. I don't want to pay $100 for a very small area that I'm going to get bored with. But there is a resort size that exceeds my ability to ski more terrain in the course of a day, and any size beyond that isn't really worth more money. Out west this is very apparent. For example Whistler is something like four times the size of Vail. But I can't ski all of the terrain of either one of these places so I'm certainly not paying more for Whistler just because it's bigger. In New England I think we are constantly flirting with that size tipping-point. Places like Ragged, Gunstock , Sunapee , Etc are small enough that you might get bored, so a larger place might demand a higher price. On the other hand Killington and Sunday River are so big that a smart skier only picks a portion of them to ski during the course of the day. So why be paying a lot of extra money for terrain that you're never going to get around to? For me there is a sweet spot in the size versus cost calculation. Places that hit that sweet spot are Wildcat, Cannon, Jay, and then other places that hit the price point by being cheap and small like Magic, Burke, and Black. Stowe is the real outlier here. Because it's not that huge but it's by far the most expensive. That's where the luxury calculation comes in, which is a whole different discussion.
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8 minutes ago, Catherine said:

I am so glad I got the MaxPass! 

Since I take two trips out west a season, same reason the Mountain Collective makes picking where to go ski for 4+ days a lot simpler.

Only reason I skied a couple days at Stowe last season was because it was on the MCP and I had friends who were going to be there when I had other reasons to be in New England.

Multi-resort passes or reciprocal agreements for more than 2-3 ski areas/resorts have been around for what . . . 5-6 years?  Certainly changes the math for how to decide where to go for lift-served skiing.

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On 12/6/2017 at 11:54 AM, MarzNC said:

Just as in real estate . . . location, location, location.  An 8-hour lift ticket at Massanutten in northern VA is $74 on weekends.  That's for 75 acres of groomed trails where the two blacks from the summit are easier than many blues in the northeast.  Rates are comparable elsewhere in the southeast for runs that take an advanced skier 3 min to finish and perhaps 5 min for a confident intermediate.  Total vertical about 1100'.

A lift ticket at Alta is about $100 for 2200 acres.  Big Sky is $115 advanced purchase online for 5000+ acres.

We went to Big Sky last year and were simply blown away by the sheer size of the place.  In talking with local folks, they said the busiest day of their season last year had ~8,000 people on the mountain.  Fully open they have ~5,800 acres.  Not quite 1 acre per person, but pretty close!  And that's on their busiest day!

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6 hours ago, Jcb890 said:

We went to Big Sky last year and were simply blown away by the sheer size of the place.  In talking with local folks, they said the busiest day of their season last year had ~8,000 people on the mountain.  Fully open they have ~5,800 acres.  Not quite 1 acre per person, but pretty close!  And that's on their busiest day!

The only lift that ever has much of a line is the 8-person can tram.  I think families or multi-ability groups that include beginners and intermediates may benefit the most at big resorts like Big Sky because of the long and wide groomers with great views.  One of my trips there was a huge ski club from New England there for the week.  Must have been at least 50 people.  Most were seniors who used to ski everything on northeast mountains but were no longer looking to ski chutes and tight trees.  For them, I think they found Big Sky lift tickets a very good value for a ski week.

And an hour from Big Sky but only 20 min from downtown Bozeman, Bridger Bowl only charges $60 for a day ticket . . . to ski 2000 acres.  Only have snowmaking on 5% of the Bridger terrain.  Bridger opened in 1955 and has successfully survived as a sustainable business and even grown as a non-profit that mainly serves local families.  Location matters for not only terrain but the type of skiers/boarders in the region.

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On 12/6/2017 at 11:30 AM, Jully said:

The jump Sugarbush made this year is nuts too.

Yes, but they're really pushing people to buy online. Even if you buy online from the parking lot you save 10% over the window prices. Buy earlier and you save even more (although even there prices are still pretty crazy...buy tickets for a weekend day in January right now it will cost anywhere between 89 and 97 depending on the day...which is actually a bit below last year's window prices). And these prices really also are designed to drive people to season pass products as well. 6 days of skiing now "pays" for my pass.

In general, it would be interesting to know how many people actually even pay full price window tickets. If you have a smart phone, there's no reason to buy at the window when you can save 10% even the day of by buying from your smart phone online.

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25 minutes ago, cdskier said:

Yes, but they're really pushing people to buy online. Even if you buy online from the parking lot you save 10% over the window prices. Buy earlier and you save even more (although even there prices are still pretty crazy...buy tickets for a weekend day in January right now it will cost anywhere between 89 and 97 depending on the day...which is actually a bit below last year's window prices). And these prices really also are designed to drive people to season pass products as well. 6 days of skiing now "pays" for my pass.

In general, it would be interesting to know how many people actually even pay full price window tickets. If you have a smart phone, there's no reason to buy at the window when you can save 10% even the day of by buying from your smart phone online.

How many ski days was the season pass decision point before?

In the southeast, have needed to be able to ski 6+ days to justify a season pass for the last 10 years that I've had one.  Remember, weekend prices are $60-80 for hills with 75-120 acres, 3 min runs with 7 min lift rides for advanced skiers, and in most cases no ungroomed terrain.  This is the first season ever that Wintergreen in VA has offered online tickets for a discounted price.

By encouraging more people buy online, even on the day of, that means less chance of frustration waiting in a line first thing in the morning.  Sounds like a good idea to me on weekends.

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21 minutes ago, MarzNC said:

How many ski days was the season pass decision point before?

In the southeast, have needed to be able to ski 6+ days to justify a season pass for the last 10 years that I've had one.  Remember, weekend prices are $60-80 for hills with 75-120 acres, 3 min runs with 7 min lift rides for advanced skiers, and in most cases no ungroomed terrain.  This is the first season ever that Wintergreen in VA has offered online tickets for a discounted price.

By encouraging more people buy online, even on the day of, that means less chance of frustration waiting in a line first thing in the morning.  Sounds like a good idea to me on weekends.

In 2014 it was 12 days (season pass was around 1100 for a full adult pass purchased at the early rates and weekend tickets were $89 at the window). Back then an "adult" pass was for anyone between 30 and 70 years old I think. Now the full adult pass has dropped to a bit under $900 (including tax) but they've also added additional passes for other age ranges (a pass for people in their 30s is ~600 including tax). So the break even point for a "full" adult is 8 days. My 30s pass break even is 6.

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7 minutes ago, cdskier said:

In 2014 it was 12 days (season pass was around 1100 for a full adult pass purchased at the early rates and weekend tickets were $89 at the window). Back then an "adult" pass was for anyone between 30 and 70 years old I think. Now the full adult pass has dropped to a bit under $900 (including tax) but they've also added additional passes for other age ranges (a pass for people in their 30s is ~600 including tax). So the break even point for a "full" adult is 8 days. My 30s pass break even is 6.

Ah, clearly direct reaction to Stowe going on the Epic Pass that's just under $900.

Taos had 2000 people who had used the MCP by early February last season.  They were hoping for 5000 by end of season.  Given the snow conditions last season in NM, they probably did reasonably well.  Wonder how many MCP holders Sugarbush is hoping for.

What I notice is the age for a senior lift ticket. :)

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Is the cost of living much different between VT and NH?  I know NH is known as a state with no income or sales tax.  Do the lifties and other seasonal staff get paid more in VT than NH?

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29 minutes ago, MarzNC said:

Is the cost of living much different between VT and NH?  I know NH is known as a state with no income or sales tax.  Do the lifties and other seasonal staff get paid more in VT than NH?

The cost of living in VT is generally pretty high due to the property taxes ( I think something like that). But the pay seems to depend more on which mountain (in VT at least) from what i've seen. For instance Stowe pays roughly 50% more than Jay peak ( at least for instructors) which is between double and triple what Peak pays at Hunter/Mount Snow unless they changed it at Snow ( Hunter still pays rubbish probably until they do the expansion next year after they end up firing half the staff due o the new background check and drug test, I digress) 

Short Answer

Vermont cost of living is expensive

They at the very least pay more at the northern Vermont resorts than in NY, does anyone knows the pay rates in NH to compare?

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1 hour ago, MarzNC said:

Is the cost of living much different between VT and NH?  I know NH is known as a state with no income or sales tax.  Do the lifties and other seasonal staff get paid more in VT than NH?

VT has a higher minimum wage. NH is federal minimum of $7.25 whereas Vermont is $10.00 per hour adjusted annually to inflation via CPI. A higher minimum wage also means that front end supervisors and low level managers are also paid more as well. Higher wages also make overtime more lucrative for seasonal workers. And Vermont is very friendly to seasonal employees when it comes to seasonal unemployment. Overall, I think VT seasonal workers are better compensated than NH seasonal workers and I suspect that offsets the state income tax in some ways. VT also has sales tax though, which can negatively impact lower paid seasonal workers more than higher paid workers, no sales tax in NH. It may all wash out in the end, hard to say?

Not sure about housing costs (probably varies by region). In the regions I've lived in both states, you pretty much pick between okay quality or semi affordable for apartments, quality and decent priced isn't really an option. "Affordable" apartments usually means poor quality and/or high heat bills due to poor insulation. NH property taxes are no joke so us homeowners offset a bit on the lack of income taxes for owning homes via high property taxes. That may be a contributing factor to apartment prices being a bit high, homeowners pass that on to their tennents. Both states are not good values when it comes to living expenses.

Edited by thesnowway
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