DENVER — Just a few weeks after videos of Disneyland-sized lift lines at Vail captured headlines across the country, a smaller resort that recently ended its partnership with the ski industry behemoth is painting a different picture.
In an unusually transparent blog post, Arapahoe Basin CEO Alan Henceroth outlined how the ski area has actually prioritized attracting fewer visitors this year. Granted, that might have worked too well.
“This season is nothing like last season,” Henceroth wrote. “The numbers speak for themselves. The experience is way up. The skier days are way down.”
According to the blog, A-Basin had hoped to attract 20% fewer skiers this season versus in 2018-19. But so far this year, Henceroth wrote that through January 2020, visitation is down 39%, though it has picked up since the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend – a trend that’s expected to continue through spring.
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Part of the reason for the lesser crowds is the fact that A-Basin ended its partnership with Vail Resorts, meaning it is no longer part of the Epic Pass.
In a statement released to the media at the time, A-Basin said the breakup was in part due to a “pinch on parking and facility space.”
Even despite the big decrease in Epic pass visitors (Henceroth said their numbers have dropped by 69%) parking is still at a premium on weekend days.
“Sunday are still very pleasant, with only one day needing overflow parking,” Henceroth wrote. “Saturday have been busier, requiring overflow parking all days except MLK Saturday (Ikon was blacked out).”
A-Basin is partnered with the Ikon Pass, meaning users can have seven days at the ski area with the full pass, and five days (some are blacked out) with the base pass.
In the blog post, Henceroth said A-Basin is going to work on securing more partnerships next year to get closer to the 20% decrease over the Epic years it had been hoping for.
“Looking forward, if March, April and May could be similar to February we would be ecstatic,” he wrote. “We have some work to do early season. Next fall we will be generating some new products and promotions to help the early season pick up.”
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