On March 15, Vail Resorts fully shut down their ski resorts and have been closed ever since. Ski season typically runs between Thanksgiving and Easter for most resorts, which means that even though you had a bulk of the season to ski, many families were waiting till Spring Break to get in their big ski trip. Also, some mountains receive some of their best snow in the March time frame, making the spring time an ideal time for a trip out west. Note: There is the [slight] chance that some resorts, such as Breckenridge, might open in May.
Unfortunately, many Epic Pass members were not able to get their full values worth. With some passes costing close to $1,000 for the season, not being able to get in a full ski season has been quite costly to many. And up until this point, it has been radio silence from Vail Resorts on whether or not they’d be accommodating pass holders.
Fortunately though, it looks like they are extending an olive branch where all pass holders will receive a 20% to 80% credit to put towards next years pass. This is not a flat out refund, so will only help those pass holders who are actually looking to purchase a pass for next year.
Credit for next year
The credit is determined based on the number of days you skied during the 2019/2020 season. If you did not ski at all, you’ll receive a 80% credit towards next years pass. If you skied five or more days, then you are down to a 20% credit. Everyone will receive a personalized email on May 13th letting them know how much their credit is good for. (If you had a Peak Resorts pass, those emails will not be sent out until May 21, 2020).
For example, we purchased an Epic Local Pass for $699 and skied 5 or more days. This means we are entitled to a 20% credit, which equals $140. This means if I were to purchase the same pass for next year, instead of it costing $729, it will cost $589. I am still not 100% sure we will purchase the pass again for next year, but it is nice to know there will be a slight discount. Or, we could also put the amount towards another pass — the credit does not have to be used on the same type of pass.
Pricing staying the same and insurance for next year
Typically, the Epic Pass prices increase a few times throughout the spring, summer and into the fall. Due to the current situation, they have actually paused the pass increase and the current prices will stay put through Labor Day. In fact, the credit that you receive will not expire until this date as well.
Vail Resorts will also be including free Epic Coverage for all pass holders for the 2020/2021 season. This will allow you receive a refund for many included reasons — such as illness, job loss, injury as well as resort closures due to COVID19. So if the mountains due end up being closed next winter or spring due to this virus, you will be covered and receive a full or pro-rated refund (not a credit like they are doing now). This extra protection should make you feel more confident purchasing the pass so far in advance.
My personal take
I am definitely pleased that Vail Resorts is doing something. This was by no means the resorts fault or the skiers fault and typically their passes are non-refundable. With that being said, I do wish they would instead offer a refund immediately versus a credit. But, from a business standpoint, I understand their position. I also wish it wasn’t only based on number of days skied. In my families situation, for example, we used the pass 5 or more days, but did not end up breaking even on the pass price. This is because most of our days were used at one of our local Peak Resorts that only cost $50 for the day. Another big trip out west was in the cards — but that was clearly canceled — along with more local ski weekends.
But at the end of the day, I am happy to see Vail Resorts finally coming around. I know that many people will be disappointed by the amount they are receiving, but I personally think people should be pleased that they are receiving anything. And I fall into one of those pass holders who didn’t end up having their pass ultimately paid for due to COVID19.