Northstar, CA Responds to Angry Complaints | “Paid Parking Will Improve the Guest Experience”

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A similar scheme will begin at Solitude, UT this season too.

Northstar California Resort’s recent announcement that they plan to charge for parking at the resort was met so much criticism from patrons that the resort has had to respond to those complaints.

The resort announced that it would charge ($10 weekdays, $20 weekends) for parking at the Village View parking lot, claiming that it would help ease congestion. Free parking will still be available at the Castle Peak lot, reports the Sierra Sun.

“Really what it comes back to is what we’ve built this program around — improving congestion on Northstar Drive and the guest experience.” — Tony Karwowski, Northstar director of base operations

One of the major complaints was the timing of the announcement, coming just after season pass holders had had money taken from their bank accounts to pay for their 2019/20 pass.

“It’s a timing issue with that process,” Karwowski said. “There are a lot of different factors in that process that we have to finalize before we can actually go public with it.”

Another concern of skiers and riders is whether the decision will actually ease congestion, or could it just make it worse. The Sierra Sun writes that they received communication from many angry customers arguing that traffic will be made worse by cars dropping off passengers up Northstar Drive, and then driving back down to park for free.

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New Northstar parking arrangements. Credit: Resort

Defiantly though, the resort insists that the decision will reduce congestion on Northstar Drive, and the resort has improved its shuttle service from Castle Peak by adding more buses and drivers:

“The whole design of the system itself is to create less congestion on Northstar Drive,” said Karwowski. “The idea is that the time it takes to pull into Castle Peak, boot up, and hop on a bus, and then ride to the village is equal or less than the time it takes to drive up Northstar Drive, drive through the village, boot up, and walk down to the village to the lift.”

The resort also claims the paid parking lot will reduce traffic on California State Route 267 which quickly backs up, especially during holidays and weekends.

“One of the benefits of this program, that we believe, is that it will actually allow us to take in traffic faster because we are going to be parking in simultaneous lots — both Village View and Castle Peak at the same time,” said Karwowski. “We feel activating both of these parking lots at the same time is going to actually allow us to take inflow faster and reduce backup on 267.”

Many season pass holders were so enraged by this decision that they demanded their pass be refunded, however, all pass sales are final according to Karwowski.

“That is part of our season pass policy,” he added

It appears the resort is standing by their decision to charge for parking, and believe that traffic and congestion in and around the resort will be relieved, improving the guest experience. I guess only time will tell…

“This is going to increase guest experience, and that’s really the aim of the program,” said Karwowski.

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13 thoughts on “Northstar, CA Responds to Angry Complaints | “Paid Parking Will Improve the Guest Experience”

  1. I’ve given up on Northstar after experiencing the madness just once last year. All the trails dump everyone to the same congested spot where all the lifts are packed. Getting to the highway from the lodge is worse than LA traffic, 1 + hour to go 7 miles. I’ll enjoy Heavenly or Kirkwood thank you.

  2. Northstar should at least make parking free for season pass holders or allow us to get refunds. Shameful!

  3. Thats why i love my Ikon pass. I get to ski previously ignored or perhaps somewhat distant resorts and bypass the clusterf.ks of Colorado, utah and JH. Hello Revy, Hello Big Sky, Hello Sugarbush. Its come down to not just watching the snowfall but also being extremely selective in where to ski..
    Now those of you who are season pass holders, i feel for you .. i ski my home mtn 35 days and elsewhere 35 to 40 days .. if i had to pay 35 x $20 and $10 i also would be furious.
    Fortunately our home mtn (Killington) has turned around and has a very pro season pass holder management team. Also lucky is the fact that Killington has had a Beast reputation that keeps the super crowds away along with a lift and parking lot configuration built to handle super crowds.. net net .. we win!

  4. It’s all about the profit margin $$$$$$
    Vail resorts doesn’t care one single f**k about the customer.
    When booth creek purchased Northstar it all changed.
    Vail/ Northstar has only one goal, squeeze as much money out of customers wallets as possible. 10% resort fee ? Now parking fees ? Vote with your wallet, let’s be honest and call Northstar what it really is , vail west but without the steep runs and light powder. it’s not about the snow it’s the experience ? Over priced food , shockingly expensive lift tickets and crappy wet low elevation snow . Overcrowded runs , 15 minutes on a bus ? The marketing department at Northstar basically lies about what they are and people are gullible enough to believe it .
    Alpine meadows has better snow and you can park right next to the chairlift.

  5. What next? A $39 daily resort fee for “free” wifi and complementary use of the bathrooms?

    Actually I shouldn’t give Vail any ideas, I wouldn’t put it past them.

    1. Actually, a stay at the Northstar Lodge last year there was a daily $60 resort fee that included parking.

  6. It is all about the money. Vail sold the parking concession rights to Interstate Parking to manage, collect payment and parking enforcement. Unless you live on the hill you may not know about this change and Northstar/Vail has yet to send out an email blast to the tens of thousands of pass holders that don’t get the local paper. If they did, their phones would blow up. They have every right to charge for parking and this has been in the works for sometime. They should have announced the change last March when passes went on sale. Congestion on Northstar Dr. is an issue on weekends and holidays, not during the week. Also, in the October 18 article states thatpasses are non refundable, so don’t hold your breath

  7. As a weekday nonholiday skier I can attest to the fact that a parking charge to “reduce congestion” is not needed at Northstar during the week. I can almost always get a spot in lot C or D closest to the resort in the morning. A nominal charge during holidays and weekends? Maybe. During the week? Pure corporate profit grab.

  8. As for the timing with respect to season passes, there’s absolutely no reason Northstar had to implement this policy now, as opposed to either planning ahead and announcing before passes went on sale or just holding off until next year. If this were about anything more than money, management would be doing all they could to appease passholders, up to and including offering refunds (or, you know, just letting passholders use Village View for the year).

    Yeah, there might be some minor benefits to congestion (though I’m extremely skeptical), but choosing to make this announcement now is clearly a business decision made at the expense of customers who have already paid for their passes.

  9. Sure, for the guests who pay. For everyone else, better hope they’re running enough busses to avoid the 45 minute line at Castle Peak.

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