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A slopeside beach, new gondolas and more ski upgrades from the company behind Ikon Pass

March 05, 2022
5 min read
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In recent years, the ski industry has seen a major shift toward mega passes, with the Alterra-owned Ikon and Vail-owned Epic passes being the two biggest players.

Day lift ticket pass prices have been skyrocketing, exceeding $200 at some resorts, giving skiers and riders almost no viable choice but to purchase a season pass if they plan on skiing more than a few days per season.

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Fortunately for skiers with Ikon passes in their pockets, Alterra Mountain Company recently announced it would be investing $344 million to improve five of its 15 North American destinations, including terrain expansion, base area redevelopments and new gondolas.

The announcement comes at the perfect time: The end of a season during which a number of Epic Passholders were dissatisfied with the reduced hours, overcrowding and limited terrain at many Vail-owned resorts.

While the issues likely stem from a variety of factors, like staffing shortages, low wages in costly resort towns and lack of affordable housing, one thing is for sure: Many skiers and riders will likely be looking for alternatives to the Epic Pass for next season.

For those who are exploring their options, here are a few things Alterra has planned for next year's ski season.

Palisades Tahoe

After years of anticipation, a gondola connecting the bases of the Village at Palisades Tahoe and Alpine Lodge will be completed, making it easier than ever to access more terrain in a single day.

Previously, skiers had to make the drive from one base area to the other, requiring more time in the car and less time on the slopes. The $65 million gondola will transport 1,400 people per hour in an eight-person gondola in 16 minutes, making it possible for skiers and riders to access 6,000 acres of terrain, pushing Palisades Tahoe into the third-largest ski area in North America.

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Steamboat Ski Resort

Steamboat Springs (Photo by Zach Shortway/Getty Images)

As part of a multiphase redevelopment plan, $90 million will go toward relocating the lower terminal of the Christie Peak Express lift and the first leg of the Wild Blue Gondola, allowing guests to access a new learning center at mid-mountain. Redevelopment of Steamboat Square has also been ongoing and will continue with a new food hall, ice rink and guest amenities.

Crystal Mountain

As part of a $100 million investment in infrastructure over the next five years, Alterra will create additional parking and a new skier services facility at Crystal Mountain, a resort in Washington state.

The 25,000 square foot building, which will be called Mountain Commons, will include a new guest services and ticketing area as well as retail, dining and an expanded slopeside beach area. The project is anticipated to be ready for the 2023 to 2024 ski season.

Mammoth Mountain

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Replacement of two integral lifts at Mammoth Mountain, the Canyon Express at Canyon Lodge and Broadway Express at Main Lodge, will begin this summer.

The six-person high-speed lifts are slated to be up and running for the 2023 to 2024 ski season. The mountain will also begin upgrading Woolly’s Adventure Summit, which will include the building of expanded tubing runs and a summer tubing surface; the installation of one of the longest mountain coasters in North America; and the eventual addition of an adventure ropes course and a permanent base lodge. Mammoth will also be upgrading its snowmaking system in an attempt to offer more terrain earlier in the season.

Additional summer plans include a revamping of the Mill Cafe and continued planning for a redevelopment of the Main Lodge and Mammoth Mountain Inn.

Related: 7 ski resorts we can’t wait to visit again

Deer Valley Resort

New for the 2022 to 23 ski season, a chairlift will be built to access Deer Valley’s Wide West learning area. The lift will provide access to expanded beginner terrain, giving beginners the option to leave the main arrival area and experience more learning terrain for the ski school.

Plans for the Snow Park Village, which is currently in the permitting stage, are also continuing. The Village will include a new plaza and arrival area, including accommodations, food and beverage options, retail and a ski beach. It's anticipated that the construction of the Snow Park Village will begin in 2023.

Related: Review of the St. Regis Deer Valley

Bottom line

In addition to the aforementioned upgrades, skiers and riders should know that three new destinations are joining the Ikon Pass network: Chamonix in France, Sun Valley in Idaho and Snowbasin in Utah (both Sun Valley and Snowbasin are ditching Epic Pass in favor of Ikon).

Ikon passes for the 2022 to 2023 ski season will go on sale on March 10. New passholders will get instant spring skiing action at five resorts, and passes start at $249 for a two-day Ikon Session Pass. But travelers who want full access to all 50 ski destinations with no blackout dates should expect to spend $1,079.

Featured image by Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more