In an attempt to quell the rising anger amongst customers, Stevens Pass ski area interim General Manager Tom Fortune yesterday sent a letter to passholders informing them that Vail Resorts would be discounting next season’s ski pass by a further $150.
The 2022-23 Stevens Pass season pass will be available to current passholders for $385. Customers with an Epic Pass will receive the equivalent $150 in credit to use at Stevens Pass ski area.
Full letter below:
Hello, Everyone –
want to focus today’s post on the email that I sent to pass holders within the Stevens Pass community last night. We take your feedback seriously, and we’re listening to you, and I certainly understand that adding terrain is the priority. While my focus remains on operations, our company began working on a Stevens Pass guest loyalty offer for the 2022/23 season in over the holidays, as the challenges in guest experience became increasingly apparent. I want to summarize what the plan is and answer some questions that I have seen pop up.
To recognize the very unique challenges at Stevens Pass, we are offering two options:
1) Eligible pass holders who ONLY want to ski and ride at Stevens Pass can get a discount on those products for next season (Stevens Pass Premium Pass and the Stevens Pass Select Pass), or;
2) Eligible pass holders who want to access more resorts, with one of our multi-resort passes (like the Epic Pass, Epic Local, Epic 4-7 Day, etc.), can get a $150 spend credit to use in resort at Stevens Pass next season for things like lift tickets, ski and ride school, restaurants, and rentals/demos.
Here are some questions I’ve received:
Who is eligible? Any 21/22 pass holder whose pass provides access to Stevens Pass.
Why not just provide a pass discount for next season on all passes? Passes like the Epic Pass and Epic Local Pass provide access to dozens of resorts that did not face the challenges we faced here at Stevens Pass. Because of that, we are not discounting access to those resorts through these products for next season.
However, we recognize many of you in the Stevens Pass community have these products, which is why we are providing you the same amount, just in the form of a spend credit at Stevens Pass for next season.
Why not provide refunds? Our passes are non-refundable because they are so highly discounted and most offer access to dozens of resorts all season long. We never know what terrain or conditions look like ahead of the season at any resort – which is why we provide such a great deal if you buy in advance. That said, this season was unique at Stevens Pass – which is why we are providing these offers.
How do I redeem these offers? More details will be communicated in the coming weeks – before our passes for next season go back on sale in March.
I remain incredibly grateful to this special community – while I know this doesn’t solve everything, it is an important step in recognizing your loyalty. I’m excited for what’s to come – including opening the backside this weekend and continuing to add to our midweek and night operations – and I hope you continue to support us as we make significant strides forward at Stevens Pass.
Looking forward to share more tomorrow on the latest up here on the mountain.
A Stevens Pass, WA, skier started a petition last month against Vail Resorts for what he calls ‘mismanagement of the ski area’. The petition has so far garnered 2almost 44,000 signatures.
Jeremy Rubingh specifically cites lift lines, parking, the treatment of employees, and lack of investment as disgusting.
Lift lines are out of control to the point where the majority of a day of “skiing” is spent standing in line at one of the few lifts open.
The full complaint below:
As Stevens Pass skiers, snowboarders and customers who purchased Vail Resorts “Epic Pass,” we are disgusted with the mismanagement of the ski area, the failure to treat employees well, or pay them a livable wage, and the failure to deliver the product we all paid for and bought with hard-earned money during a pandemic. Lift lines are out of control to the point where the majority of a day of “skiing” is spent standing in line at one of the few lifts open. This is, of course, if you are even able to park and not told you cannot access the ski area due to limited parking. In addition, the failure to open ample lifts or even half of the available terrain is due solely to mismanaging an understaffed ski area. The Stevens Pass website now states they will likely only run three base area lifts and open only 40% of the terrain, though there is plenty of snow to open more. Parking has been abysmal at Stevens Pass due to a lack of staffing, investment in infrastructure, and plowing. Customers are often told they cannot use their “Epic Pass” or the products they have paid for at Vail Resorts and must turn around, simply because there is nowhere to park.
Avalanche mitigation cannot be used as an excuse for a lack of terrain opening as other ski areas nearby with more challenging terrain issues and similar avalanche conditions, have been successful in opening up most of their terrain. This is simply a matter of not hiring the appropriate staff to run a ski area, or pay a wage commensurate with experience and the job description. Mt. Baker, Snoqualimie, Alpental, Crystal, White Pass and Mission Ridge do not appear to have this problem whatsoever. There is a clear pattern of overselling passes and failing to provide the most rudimentary services to uphold Vail Resort’s end of the deal with consumers. Unfortunately, this is a problem that extends beyond Washington. With above average snowfall and other resorts in the area proving they are able to run lifts and open terrain, it is painfully clear that Vail Resorts are not operating in good faith towards their customers or their employees. Furthermore, it appears they have no respect for skiing, ski culture, or the public’s experience of snow sports in the areas they operate.
Pass sales for 2021-22 are up 76% compared to the 2019-2020 season across “Epic Pass” resorts. Yet, there are hundreds upon hundreds of unfilled jobs that are necessary to operate ski areas. The wages being offered for key personnel, like ski patrollers, are sub-standard. To offer a patroller, who needs avalanche and medical training, a mere $14 an hour is offensive. To offer anyone this amount as a “living wage” at this point, especially in rural areas where a commute is necessary, is abhorrent, especially as c-suite executives and shareholders profit in the millions.
The product marketed and sold by Vail Resorts included reasonable access to the terrain and lifts that are prevalent in their marketing materials and on their maps. We were not sold passes with the understanding that Vail Resorts intended to keep 60% of the terrain and the majority of lifts closed for the season. We would not have bought passes if we knew this. It is illegal for a business to accept payments for products or services they do not intend to supply. Vail Resorts needs to commit to returning 60% of the cost of a season’s pass to all pass holders unless this problem is addressed immediately (by January 15th). There is ample evidence that Vail Resorts was aware of their staffing issues as early as the 2019/2020 winter. To sell this many “Epic Passes” in Washington State while being fully aware of staffing issues and knowing that they could not meet their obligations to all of their consumers, it is clear that Vail Resorts deceived a substantial portion of the public and committed this deception in the conduct of commerce. We believe that Vail Resorts’ failure to comply with our request is a violation of the Washington Consumer Protection Act. Without action from Vail Resorts, the undersigned will bring a claim of violation to the Consumer Protection Division and the Attorney General of Washington State.
The undersigned also suggest a review of the operator’s agreement pursuant to the special permit issued by the United States Forest Service (USFS) for operating on the two parcels on USFS property. We feel there could be a better operator serving the interests of public recreation on our public lands, especially if Vail Resorts is found to be in violation of the Consumer Protection Act and is failing to provide the services on public lands they have agreed to. The current operator is acting in bad faith and seems solely focused on profit for a large corporation whose corporate headquarters and shareholder majority do not reside within this state. As the U.S. Department of Agriculture Ski Area Special Permit document states, the Forest Service may revoke or suspend this permit for noncompliance with Federal, State, or local laws and regulations. In addition, the special permit states, “The holder, in advertisements, signs, circulars, brochures, letterheads, and like materials, as well as orally, shall not misrepresent in any way either the accommodations provided…” We, the undersigned, note that Vail Resorts has greatly misrepresented accommodations provided.
We sign this petition with a heavy heart as we would much rather be enjoying the snow the only way we know how as dedicated skiers and snowboarders. We would also prefer to spend our free time celebrating our sport and creating more equitable access rather than fighting with large corporations. But the time has come for us to take a stand if we are to have high quality outdoor winter recreation for future generations. Unfortunately, Vail Resorts has contributed more to the destruction of our ski communities and our sport than they have created value. We look forward to speedy resolution of these issues.