Steamboat Ski Area price hikes sting seniors

Skiers and snowboarders congregate Monday at the base of  Steamboat Ski Area. A 40-percent increase in the cost of seniors ski passes during the past two years has some older skiers upset.

— Steamboat Ski Area’s decision to hike the prices of senior ski passes has left some of the area’s most loyal skiers fuming.

The $699 seniors will pay for a 2017-18 season pass represents a 40-percent, or $200, increase from the 2015-16 ski season’s $499 price tag.

By comparison, the early-bird price of an adult ski pass has gone up only 9.5 percent, from $1,049 to $1,149, in the same two-year period.

Steamboat Ski Area season pass rates

Seniors (70+)

2017-2018: $699

2016-2017: $599

2015-2016: $499


2017-2018: $1,149

2016-2017: $1,099

2015-2016: $1,049

*Prices are early-bird prices for passes purchased before the end of May

“To say I’m angry is probably an understatement,” Steamboat resident Ed Miklus said Monday about the latest price bump for seniors. “It’s disrespectful. I have had no increase in my pension over the last 10 years. Zero.”

Skiers and riders must have turned 70 years old before a ski season begins to qualify for the discounted senior pass.

The price of a season pass for a teenager is unchanged, remaining $599 for the 2017-18 season, meaning seniors will be spending $100 more for their passes.

When local photographer George Fargo, who has been skiing Steamboat since 1969, checked the price of a senior pass for the upcoming ski season, he found himself thinking "not again."

He said Monday the price increases have him thinking hard about whether to purchase another season pass.

“I understand Ski Corp. has to make money, but I don’t understand increasing the price for seniors more than the full-price people,” Fargo said.

Asked why the price of a senior ski pass is going up at a significantly higher rate than passes for other age groups, Katie Brown, the ski area's vice president of sales and marketing, said the pricing followed a review of what other ski areas were offering in terms of senior discounts.

Brown noted Steamboat’s senior pass rate will amount to a 40-percent discount from a regular adult pass next ski season.

Brown said the discount is still higher than many other resorts are offering.

“Vail Resorts doesn’t offer a senior Epic Pass,” Brown said. “We are proud we offer 40 percent off regular price.”

Brown also noted there are added benefits to Steamboat’s season passes next ski season.

These include unlimited skiing at Winter Park and an increase in the number of discounted lift tickets a season pass holder can get for friends and family during off-peak times.

Many senior pass holders interviewed Monday said they still plan to fork out more money for a ski pass, adding they consider themselves a sort of “captive customer.”

But in a town where seniors once skied for free, the singling out of the senior passes for greater price hikes isn’t sitting well with the older generation of skiers.

Seniors critical of the price increases note many senior skiers have spent years paying full price for access to the lifts.

“Terrible, just terrible,” longtime skier Ann Ross said of the latest price increases for seniors. “I’m very disappointed. We used to ski for practically nothing. I think a lot of people think seniors have a lot of money. I mean some of them do, but a lot of them don’t.”

The 20 percent price jump announced last ski season prompted a flurry of criticism and letters to the editor.

Patti and Tom Zehner questioned why seniors were facing four times more of an increase than adults.

They also claimed Aspen had raised the price of its senior passes less than 3 percent during a similar three-year period.

Miklus, a retired school superintendent who moved to Steamboat from New Jersey, said the local price hikes are coming at a time of “stagnation” and will hurt seniors who aren’t seeing their Social Security payments or pensions grow at a similar rate.

The price hikes have also dinged his view of the ski area.

“I’m just livid about this, I’m livid. I’m beyond livid,” Miklus said. “My feeling is they don’t care. They’ll take the heat and leave it over a 37-percent increase.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

Community comments

Note: The Steamboat Pilot & Today doesn’t necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy.

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

“Vail Resorts doesn’t offer a senior Epic Pass,” Brown said

Yeah, but Vail sells an adult Epic Local Pass with just a handful of black out dates for $639 which is $60 less than SB's adult pass. And Vail offers other options to ski less at Vail and more at nearby resorts at lower prices.

Seems that Vail Resorts says that a senior can be able to ski as often as an adult so no discounts for seniors, but Vail Resorts has a whole slew of affordable options for someone on a limited income.

I think most seniors don't care whether seniors can get a pass that costs less than the standard adult pass, they just care about the price of skiing.

Posted 13 March 2017, 8:08 p.m. Suggest removal

(Ed Miklus) edskis says...

And...Katie Brown is full of baloney. Copper's senior pass starts at 65 years old and for the up coming season is $318. The bottom line is the corporate pinheads at ski corp don't give a
wit about us. There is no justification for a 37% price increase in today's economy nor would it be even if the economy was booming. It is disgusting. Who increases anything 37%?
We are part of the culture here that makes guests enjoy the Yampa Valley and what it has to offer. We are valuable and they don't give two hoots about us.

Posted 14 March 2017, 8:19 a.m. Suggest removal

(Tim Keenan) EarsOfTheWorld says...

Not a good PR move, either. Seniors tend to speak their minds and aren't afraid to voice their displeasure.

Posted 14 March 2017, 12:15 p.m. Suggest removal

(Neil O'Keeffe) rokboat says...

Then why continue to give them your money? Ski Corp has long known that they have a captive audience and taken full advantage of that fact when it comes to their treatment of locals and the labor market.

Posted 14 March 2017, 12:25 p.m. Suggest removal

(Jim Kelley) jksparky says...

Your suggestion will have little effect when you consider that Ski Corp gets over 650.00+ on a six of seven day pass from visiting skiers on a week long vacation. Or a day pass at 160.00!!
Destination resorts can squeeze locals and visitors equally.
Another example of the destination squeeze would be Jackson Hole which gets $1,270.00 for seniors passes and $1,855.00 for regular passes. ---Of course, whether a Jackson pass vs a Steamboat pass offers better value is debatable!

Posted 14 March 2017, 2:56 p.m. Suggest removal

(Stephen Jones) srjdad says...

Here is the Aspen Ski Pass Prices (2016-2017) . Notice the Silver Senior 70+ is only $479
Adult pass is $1799 Guess Aspen cares about their seniors.

Super Early Purchase By 9/9/16 Early

Adult $1799
Chamber* $1299
Silver (70+)** $479 ⛷
Senior (65-69) $1299
College (18-24)*** $639
Child / Teen (7-17) $639
Parent**** $1799

Steamboat Senior 70+ 2016-2017 ski pass $599.

Makes one wonder. Should note that the Aspen Silver 70+ pass never goes up

Posted 14 March 2017, 3:37 p.m. Suggest removal

(steve randall) srandall says...

I think the bigger question is are the major ski resorts pricing themselves out of the family vacation market? You get to $1000 per day pretty quick for a family of 4.

Posted 14 March 2017, 4:23 p.m. Suggest removal

(dave mcirvin) stormpeakco says...

any comments from our city council members?
AND skicorp would just like to say thanks.

*City voters approved the tax by a 61 percent margin in 2011 for a period of five years. But the LMD board, anticipating that its reserve fund will soon exceed $7 million, opted not to seek renewal of the tax in the November election.*

Posted 14 March 2017, 5:45 p.m. Suggest removal

(Dan Kuechenmeister) dannyk says...

My guess is the bean counters at Intrawest have a pretty good idea of what the "folks" are willing to pay. As long as the "folks" keep paying the bean counters will keep counting. Steve R I keep asking myself the same thing about family vacations and the cost. So far not a problem apparently. The one thing that has not gone up much. Season pass for youth under 6. Our son got his in 1996 for $25. It looks like it is now $30.

Posted 14 March 2017, 6:19 p.m. Suggest removal

(Eric Morris) ericsmorris says...

Cost is why I am flying over our Steamboat condo and taking the family ski vacation at Brighton. I am lucky enough to be able to house the help, but I wouldn't happily pay SkiCorp to be able to utilize that help. I guess there are plenty of folks far wealthier to pick up the slack.

Posted 14 March 2017, 6:41 p.m. Suggest removal

(Chet Persons) cdper99 says...

Eleven years ago when I was about to turn 70, I was looking forward to skiing free and guess what!! They started to charge super seniors (70+). I think it was something like $80 to cover the administration costs. I guess the administration costs have gone up a bit.

Posted 15 March 2017, 8:14 a.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Damman) ScottD says...

Wow, the entitlement comes out. $700 per year to ski on a mountain that has fantastic terrain for the aging population. 90% of the time zero lift lines. Very efficient lift system. Some of the best snow quality around. How much are you paying for parking? How much are you paying for the shuttle? Pack a brown bag lunch and maybe buy a cup of coffee? Please let me know how you are not getting your monies worth. I sure hope those quotes were misquoted.

Posted 15 March 2017, 9:09 a.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

Soon enough pricing out a number of seniors. Ski Corps' justification of price increase makes no sense. If Ski Corps had a rational explanation such as now seniors skiing more days and pass cost reflects ski area costs then it would be understandable. But Ski Corps saying it is a good deal compared to Vail which doesn't have senior passes is ridiculous when Vail Resorts offer numerous lower cost options for seniors to go skiing.

Posted 15 March 2017, 10:56 a.m. Suggest removal

(George Fargo) gaf says...

$700 may or may not be reasonable. My issue is the disparity. Over the last 4 years the season pass has gone up 15% while the senior pass has gone up 56%. Either the season pass should be $1556 or the senior pass should be $520. Like Scott W said, I asked Katie directly last year and got the same corporate babble that Scott F got for this article - no rational explanation.

Posted 15 March 2017, 6:16 p.m. Suggest removal

(George Hresko) GeorgeHresko says...

If the question is only seniors, then this is a very simple price elasticity of demand exercise. BUT, I wonder if the 'bean counters' (not my term) have factored in the knock-on effects?

Posted 15 March 2017, 5:01 p.m. Suggest removal

(Dan Kuechenmeister) dannyk says...

George, "bean counters" are paid the big bucks to account for "knock-on effects".

Posted 15 March 2017, 6:41 p.m. Suggest removal

(George Hresko) GeorgeHresko says...

Dan--Maybe. Depends how successfully they can model seniors' behaviors, and those of their families and friends. If I cease skiing perhaps my children and grandchildren will not ski when they visit, or at least ski much less than when I was skiing. As a group we may choose and alternate activity or an alternate mountain.

Posted 15 March 2017, 9:20 p.m. Suggest removal

(Lock McShane) Lock_McShane says...

When Stagecoach Ski Area opens, then Steamboat won't have a monopoly anymore.

Posted 15 March 2017, 8:53 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

From a bean counter perspective, it takes 17% decline in seniors buying passes for the hike to result in less revenues. Seniors are also less likely than younger skiers to buy stuff or eat at Ski Corps restaurants. Bean counter would probably say they don't care if some seniors are upset.

Now if some seniors contacted Vail Resorts to try to convince them to run Howelsen and that they have a petition with a bunch of names promising to buy an Epic Pass if Howelsen is included then that might Ski Corps nervous. Especially because seniors probably have a higher chance of knowing people in Vail etc and they could then say that allows them to ski with friends.

Posted 15 March 2017, 8:56 p.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

By the time you're a senior, y'ain't got many friends left...

Posted 15 March 2017, 11:33 p.m. Suggest removal

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