Aspen SkiCo CEO Urges Locals to Embrace Ikon Pass Holders | Accuses Locals of ‘Blatant Snobbery’

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ikon crowds draw complaints
Stop Ikonisizing Aspen sticker in Aspen, Coloard. Photo:

Skico President and CEO Mike Kaplan addressed the local business community during an annual event in Aspen, CO this week, celebrating the success of last year’s winter and urging the audience to embrace Ikon Pass holders, reports the Aspen Times.

“We are going to bask a little bit in the glow of last year. I don’t know about you but I’m still savoring it,” Kaplan said.

He used the public event to point out some of the highlights from last year’s awesome winter:

  • 2018-19 was the longest ski season ever in Aspen at 168 days. Two skiers logged 167 days on the slopes
  • Skier visits at Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk also set a record.
  • Visits were up about 20% from the prior season (although 2017/18 was a poor snow year)

Kaplan said opening access to the Ikon Pass “was not a reaction to bad snow”, but a “resiliency strategy” to attract the next generation of skiers and snowboarders. To combat the previous bad year they partnered with Alterra Mountain Company to offer discounts and make the slopes available to purchasers of the Ikon Pass.

aspen, ikon, overcrowding
SkiCo CEO asks locals to embrace Ikon Pass holders. Credit: Craig Turpin/Aspen Daily News

Sharing some data with regards the Ikon Pass, Kaplan noted:

  •  27% of Ikon Pass users were between ages 25 and 34 compared with 19% of Skico’s overall customers
  • 13% of Ikoners were younger than 18 compared with 3% of customers overall
  • ~70% of Ikon Pass users were new to Aspen and many were from the Front Range of Colorado

Confronting the issue of locals not welcoming Ikon Pass holders and being vilified by a vocal majority, Kaplan said:

“I call this blatant snobbery,” Kaplan said. “This is not who we are.”

He claimed Ikoners were unfairly blamed for weekend crowding last season. To prove his point, he provided numbers from a powder day in March when the Deep Temerity chairlift was bombarded and people were complaining about 40-minute lift lines. Kaplan said there were 3,420 skiers and snowboarders at Highlands that day. Skico knows the mix of local passholders, Ikon Pass holders and skiers who purchased lift tickets. Of the estimated 800 skiers in that lift line, 129 were Ikon Pass holders. Without them, the lift line would have been 36-minutes. Ikon Pass holders added 4 minutes to a lift line and all the anger is unfairly being focussed on them

Kaplan urged the audience to “embrace” Ikon holders “so we become their place of choice forever more.” He made the same plea last month in a presentation to the Aspen City Council.

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4 thoughts on “Aspen SkiCo CEO Urges Locals to Embrace Ikon Pass Holders | Accuses Locals of ‘Blatant Snobbery’

  1. The real answer to limiting the crowds is keeping those brown bagger locals off the Hill. Stop selling cheap passes to us locals! We have money and can handle the costs thanks to our Daddies.

  2. Kaplan needs to take a look at himself and what he’s doing with the company. The place is steadily losing sight of a lot of the great things that made it different not only from other mega resorts but mega pass resorts. Not so much the case now.

  3. This is not a new issue. With all of the seasons passes from Epic to Ikon this poses a whole new entire problem to local ski areas. More crowds. More traffic. More crime. Yes I said crime. Not all winter sports people are saints like the rest of us. Look at Arapahoe Basin. They just elected to discontinue their 19 year relationship with Vail and the Epic Pass due to huge crowds, parking problems and traffic related issues. The extra cash flow input was great but at a huge negative cost. Sometimes less is better.

    1. Yup…my local hill quit swapping 2 “free” days with Squaw when you got a season pass. Problem was Squaw is always bursting at the seems. A relentless stream of Squaw pass holders would come over choking out weekends and pow days (at my hill). They stopped the pass swapping couple years ago and it’s back to country club skiing on midweek powdays.

      It’s a revenue game. I took me a long time to embrace this kind of thinking so here it is…. packing a few less lunches and drinking a few more beers in the lodge is a hell of lot easier than standing in lines on a pow day.

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