While the economy is down, the number of locals hitting Wasatch Front resorts for skiing and snowboarding seems to be up. Most resorts are reporting strong figures—sometimes even record figures—for sales of passes and numbers of people on the slopes. Although many of the resorts don’t keep exact figures as to who, exactly, is enjoying the powder, the general sense in the industry seems to be that most of those skiers and boarders are from the 801 area code, because bookings at resort hotels are mostly down. (There’s also the theory that the visitors are still coming but staying in cheaper hotels away from the mountains.)
The lack of tourists might hurt certain parts of the economy, but it also leaves more room on the slopes for locals who have just enough getaway money to get in the mountains—particularly when several resorts are offering packages to try to keep skiing and snowboarding affordable.
“My sense is that people are doing a staycation instead of going somewhere out of state” says Jared Ishkanian of Snowbird.
“We have good conditions this year and people are still skiing.” In some cases, resorts saw what was coming before the season began and responded accordingly to find ways to allow local skiers and boarders to keep coming to the slopes. “We made a number of decisions early on back in the summer,” says Carolyn Daniels of Powder Mountain. For night skiing, a popular pastime with locals more than tourists, Powder Mountain (801-745- 3772, PowderMountain.com) rolled back its prices to 2002 levels: $15 for adults, and $12 for kids. It also began offering a free shuttle bus from the town of Eden, located in the Ogden Valley below Powder Mountain.
“They’ve both been extremely popular,” says Daniels. “Night skiing is definitely up. Younger skiers and local skiers are definitely taking advantage of the lower rates.”
A nice side effect has been that “We did notice an increase in season-pass sales.” When asked about whether Snowbird has made changes in response to the economic downturn, Ishkanian responds, “Yes and no. We’re still doing some of the same things we’ve always done, but this year it wouldn’t make sense to make it more difficult for people to ski. We’re absolutely trying to keep skiing affordable this year.” One avenue Snowbird (800-232-9542, Snowbird.com) is pursuing is spring passes of $499 on March 2, and $279 on April 1 (no foolin’). Ishkanian also points out the resort stayed open until June 22 last year. To make things even better, Snowbird, like some other resorts, is offering deals on weekend escape packages at its hotels.
The global economy may be down, but that just means better rates and access for locals at Utah’s resorts—or as Johnny Rotten might put it, “a holiday in other people’s misery.”
Other special deals offered by Utah resorts:
Alta (801-359-1078, alta.com) The price for an Adult Season Pass dropped from $1,099 to $725 on Jan. 31. It would take 12 trips before the end of the season to make it pay off.
Brighton (801-532-4732, Brightonresort.com) Half-price Twilight Pass on Thursdays when you present a Maverik Adventure Card. The pass is $29 for eight hours.
Powder Mountain (801-745-3772, PowderMountain.com) Purchase a local resident $40 discount card and present it Monday through Friday for $16 off a day pass or $15 off a half-day pass.
Sundance (801-225-4107, Sundanceresort.com) Pay-per-click campaign offers a package with a full-day lift ticket and rental packages for adults and a half-day lesson for kids. Cost is $85 for adults and $75 for children.
Wolf Creek (801-745-3511, WolfCreekUtah.com) The “45 Special” offers the chance to learn to snowboard. Purchasing a $45 ticket gets a night pass, snowboard rental and a twohour lesson. The resort is also offering a number of night specials, including $15 for all students on Thursdays. CW