How is it possible that a single day of skiing can cost more than $200? When you dive into dissecting the world’s most expensive single-day passes most factors may be obvious. However, there are hidden costs that drive up the price of all single-day tickets.
The Obvious Costs
- Chairlifts are inherently expensive especially when they are highspeed detachable chairs. Lifts greatly differ in price, but many can range from $2-10 million.
- Snowmaking is crucial for the majority of ski areas in the US as well as one of the most expensive parts of operating a ski resort. Due to the effects of climate change, most ski areas expect to only rely more heavily on snowmaking in the future.
- Grooming is expensive for two separate reasons. First, a brand new machine can cost well over half a million dollars. Second, upkeep on a groomer and fuel are both expensive when some fleets are as big as several dozen machines.
The Hidden Costs
- Employees are expensive as it takes many people to operate a large ski resort. Even with extremely low wages for employees of most ski resorts they still cost companies a large portion of their revenue.
- Employee housing is also expensive for large resorts to provide, however, it is a necessity. Due to expensive mansions in most destination ski towns and the lack of flat ground to build on housing is expensive.
While there are numerous factors in play when determining what a lift ticket will cost, the largest driving force is companies hedging risk. Ski areas (and their profits) rely heavily on cold and snowy winters. With the climate changing at a breakneck pace, ski areas are unsure how long each season will be. By selling season passes at fairly reasonable prices the resorts can guarantee some of their revenue no matter how good the ski season is. In order to steer people towards a season pass or multiday ticket (which typically must be purchased in advance), walk-up lift ticket prices have soared to over $200.