Whistler's epic snowpark setup. | Photo: Whistler Blackcomb

The price of a season pass at Whistler Blackcomb is set to be slashed from 2017 after Vail Resorts bought the B.C resort for $1.4 billion earlier this week.

The Colorado-based Vail company intends to merge Whistler into it’s already popular 13-resort Epic Pass, which currently sells for $809 US, a steal compared to the current $2,000 Cdn price of a season-long ski pass in Whistler.

“We believe with the price being lower and all the benefits added, we can really expand our base," said Vail CEO Rob Katz. “It is true that for a handful of people they are going to get a great discount but for so many other people they are going to buy a season pass when they ordinarily wouldn’t.

“We’ve seen this broaden and make much more accessible the opportunity to ski at the best possible value."

Ski Map Whistler Blackcomb

Ski Map Whistler Blackcomb

The takeover is Vail’s first move into Canada, and takes its total to ten mountain resorts and two ski areas in the US and Australia. With the price cuts, it’s no doubt great news for any seasonnaires planning to get out to the area, anyway.

The Epic Pass program has been one that’s driven Vail’s efforts to make skiing more accessible, and started in 2008 when they cut the price of a season ticket at Vail Mountain from $1500 to $600, a move which raised the number of season pass holders from 40,000 at the time to the current 550,000.

Harmony Bowl, Whistler Mountain Credit: iStock/Paul Harrison

Vail Resorts have said that as well as the cut in season pass prices, they plan to invest in property in the area and aim to expand the appeal of the town ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, after which they will be looking to target the Asian-Pacific market.

The new owners will also continue on the $345 million “Renaissance" plan to make Whistler more competitive year-round.

Whistler Blackcomb CEO Dave Brownlie said: “We were focused on our business and working with the province and First Nations communities on our master development agreements and we really weren’t interested at the end of the day in terms of accommodation with Vail.

Whistler

“But they were persistent and they kept calling and at the end of the day they put a very attractive offer on the table."

Brownlie will remain as the chief operating officer for Whistler Blackcomb after the friendly cash-and-stock takeover (both Vail and Whistler Blackcomb are publicly-traded companies), and the resort will still be called Whistler Blackcomb, as well.

Although season pass holders will benefit significantly, it’s unlikely there will be much change to any other kind of passes for the mountain.

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