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some frustrated skier

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16th Feb 2021
How much for a day pass at a World class Scottish resort?
Date Posted: 12.31hrs on Mon 1 Jan 18
As the subject says, how much would you pay for a day ticket at a World class resort in Scotland?

What I mean as World class is a suite of high speed chairs, wide range of catering facilities, ski in/out accommodation, over 50% of snowmaking available in the resort.

Looking at Heavenly, Lake Tahoe a day ticket is in the region of 110. In my opinion it is the best resort I have been to. They have invested a lot of money in a number of high speed lifts and catering facilities.


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Re: How much for a day pass at a World class Scottish resort?
Date Posted: 14.07hrs on Mon 1 Jan 18
some frustrated skier Wrote:
Looking at Heavenly, Lake Tahoe a day ticket is in the region of 110. In my opinion it is the best resort I have been to. They have invested a lot of money in a number of high speed lifts and catering facilities.


If you walk up to the ticket window at the Gondola Hall in South Lake Tahoe and pay the rackrate price you'll be stung for $149 for a day at Heavenly. However....

When Vail took over Kirkwood the Kirkwood Value Pass become the Tahoe Value Pass and the spring early bird price for the 2017/18 season was $429. It's valid 7 days at Heavenly (except between Boxing Day and Hogmanay, and also blacked out over Presidents Day Weekend in Feb) and valid 6 days a week at Northstar and Kirkwood (not valid Sat).

That's less than 3 full day Heavenly passes at the rackrate to break even!! Vail do not want you queuing at a ticket office.

When Vail arrives on the scene at your local mountain you can usually be sure of 4 things:

•Lift Ticket prices go UP!
•Season Pass prices probably will go DOWN
•Food and Drink prices will go up (>33% at Kirkwood vs small increase at Northstar).
•The mountain concerned will get busier - somewhere in the region of 700,000 Epic Passes sold for this season.

Vail also usually brings substantial investment with it. Big sums have been spent on some of the very small local hills it's bought replacing older lifts with new high speed chairs and 100% snow making.

While at Kirkwood over $30m has been invested, but there's nothing on the ground to really see for it, that was what it cost to put Kirkwood Mountain on the grid (and it was the need to do this with a helping hand from the Credit Crunch that ultimately did for Kirkwood Mountain Resort as an independent resort).

Very few of the people skiing or riding at Heavenly will have paid $149 for a ticket today.

So back to Scotland and improved uplift capacity and snow making mean that more people can be got on a mountain when conditions are good and there will be more days in total when you can get people on the mountain. Both therefore can make a massive positive impact to the bottom line at the prevailing ticket price.

As a local example, Glenshee got about 50% of CairnGorm's skier days last winter with only 20% of the open days CairnGorm had.

A raft of data, figures and modelling were given to CML and HIE that shows the potential for snow making and the criticality of the Carpark Runs being skiable to the Daylodge for driving demand. There will be a concerted effort to keep the Carpark Run skiable this winter, but there really needs to be more guns at more locations.

Of course there will be no more such data because CML dismantled the weather station in a fit of pique. eye rolling smiley


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Re: How much for a day pass at a World class Scottish resort?
Date Posted: 20.35hrs on Mon 1 Jan 18
110 is to me daylight robbery, I wouldn't go anywhere near a place that tried to charge me that much. Heavenly may be good, but it's not that good. I'd go if I could get a deal that dropped the price to 60. However, rip off ticket prices are why I've mostly not bothered to ski in the US, even though I have traveled many times for other reasons. Even on the east coast ticket prices are substantially higher than the Alps. I paid $75 for a day ticket in Killington back in 2008 and considered that to be on the limit of acceptability. The same pass is now $115.

On a side issue, I have noticed that lift opening hours in the US tend to be shorter than Europe, even when daylight hours are comparable, so your high day ticket price also gets you less "snow time".

In the US you can get away with high day ticket prices because everywhere charges high day prices, so skiers consider them to be the going rate, in essence there is no competitive pressure to do otherwise. The US model seems to be to try and push people towards season tickets. I have noticed that lot of people who have season tickets for one resort seem to never go anywhere else (I call it the "curse of the season ticket holder"), so by setting the season ticket bar very low you can lock in your customers for the entire season, which in turn pushes more people towards getting a holiday home at the resort.

In Europe the population densities in the areas surrounding the Alps are much higher than the Rockies and we have a lot more paid holiday, I suspect this has a strong effect on the business model of the ski areas.

I can get an day pass at Val d'isere for 57 Euros (probably 50) and I suspect that the most of the target market for Scottish skiing would look to the typical prices charged in the Alps when judging if somewhere is good value or not, so exceeding those prices would trigger a rapid fall off in numbers. You'd struggle to convince me that Heavenly is so much better than Val d'isere that it's worth paying twice the price for a lift ticket.

If you wanted to look at a resort which is a better comparison to Scotland, Winterberg in the German Sauerland is a good choice. It's low altitude with a short season and unreliable snow, the terrain area is similar in size to Glenshee. However it has snowmaking on almost all of the runs, most of the main lifts are modern chairs (with some high speeds 6x ones) and the day ticket price is 35 Euros (cheaper than Cairngorm at current exchange rates). Right now they've got 17/26 lifts, 21/27.5km of runs and 30cm of machine made snow. They also have a bobsled track which hosts world cup events and the nearby resort of Willingen has a world cup ski jump. Add to that the fact that it's a much shorter trip to the Alps, so the competition is closer, but they still manage to run a viable business.

From a pure economics point of view, a 110 day ticket in Scotland means you've increased the cost per day by about 75 per person over current prices. At which point somebody looking for a day or two's skiing would be better of flying to Geneva on EasyJet and spending those 2 days at the Monts-Jura where the day pass is 28 Euros. The ski area is very close to the airport (you can just about see the runs from the terminal) and has a good selection of runs.

My personal feeling is that right now you could push the ticket price into the mid 40's if there was a corresponding big investment in snowmaking and lift infrastructure. Whatever you do, we also have the Scottish weather to contend with, however good the lifts and snowmaking. If the lift ticket is "good value" people will put up with the wind and dull conditions far more than if it's "expensive".

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Re: How much for a day pass at a World class Scottish resort?
Date Posted: 22.43hrs on Mon 1 Jan 18
Long time lurker - infrequent poster here....

I'm actually a season pass holder for Tahoe, even though I only ski there one week a year! I've been going for over 10 years as my 'end of season' treat. Some of the prices quoted as slightly misleading. First off - the actual prices are in $ and the exchange rate has changed greatly over the years and will continue to do so. Just had a look and currently a day pass is $114, and so at the current rate of 1.35 that's 84. But we've been there in past years when it was near enough 2 dollars to the pound, and more often than not around the 1.65 level - so a day pass could be considered anywhere from 60-85, not 110.

But they aren't really in the business of day passes so they make the season passes extremely attractive. I have mine on an end-of-season auto-renew that renews with a discount - it takes a payment of $50 in April and the balance in October. In truth I can't remember the exact cost, but it's LESS THAN 5 DAY PASSES - so about 400 all-in with only a few blackout days like New Year and Presidents day. That's 400 for the whole season - with near-as-dammit guaranteed snow, even though I can only make use of a week of it! PLUS you get 6 (I think it's 6) 'buddy passes', which are discounted day tickets for others so my daughter doesn't pay the full day pass rate either as a consequence of my season ticket.

And that's with virtually no queuing at any time, high-speed uplift and relatively quiet slopes. So rather than being particularly expensive, I think 400 or so for the whole season plus discounted buddy passes seems pretty good to me.

...but not as good as it used to be! It used to be if you bought a 'next season' pass in April you could use it in the current year from April onward too, so if you skied the first or second week in April you only had to buy a season pass (less than 5 day pass rate) every second year as each did the current April and next April too.

The problem with a season ticket in Scotland (and 40 years ago I was an 'every year' season ticket holder at Cairngorm, although I've 'boycotted' it of late, but that's another topic) is that there is no guarantee of any skiing at all. I try to go up (mainly Glenshee now) whenever I can and whenever there's snow, but of late that can be half a dozen days a year or even less. If there was decent snow and the lifts were running I'd be there every weekend from November through April - but I could buy a Scottish season ticket and get precious little use of it. Snow making (massive snow making) could solve the cover issue, but it isn't going to stop the gales or the rain and all the other stuff that stops uplift or at best just makes it unpleasant.

So in terms of the OP's original query, it's not 110 a day this super-Scotland resort has to match, but 400 for a season of guaranteed skiing.

Anyway, off again to Heavenly this April again...and since I'm now 'semi retired' for the first time ever my season pass won't just buy me a week's skiing - I'm going for a fortnight smiling smiley


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Re: How much for a day pass at a World class Scottish resort?
Date Posted: 23.05hrs on Mon 1 Jan 18
I been going to Italy for nearly 20 years every winter. In cervinia it's about 37quid a day or around 55 if you include zermat.Great value.

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Re: How much for a day pass at a World class Scottish resort?
Date Posted: 23.57hrs on Mon 1 Jan 18
Without meaning to derail this from any discussion about Scotland into one entirely about Tahoe, but checking on the respective websites the official 'rack rate' for 2018 (ie what you pay at the window everything else being equal in terms of conditions / uplift open etc):

Northstar $156
Heavenly $149
Kirkwood $119

Wind back to the early 2000s and Northstar and Sierra at Tahoe were sister resorts, in fact to go Sierra today and you get an idea of what Northstar was pre the current village. Today all but the Rendezvous Triple are now high speed detachables, there's the Village at Northstar with countless cafes, shops, bars, restaurants.

For a price comparison a Sierra at Tahoe ticket is currently $94 and the lift network consists of 3 high speed quads, 1 triple and 5 double chairs.

Kirkwood's last lift upgrade or installation was the Lookout Vista T-bar in 2009 pre Vail, there are 2 high speed detachables, but the majority of the uplift are 1970s Yan Lifts and one of them was a second hand double. One Yan Triple, Sunrise was converted to a fixed grip Quad in 1999.

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Re: How much for a day pass at a World class Scottish resort?
Date Posted: 11.04hrs on Tue 2 Jan 18
I was recently in Switzerland and paid 51 for a day pass at Verbier (included the e-card). This may have been limited terrain pass as not all was open. Next day in Nendaz (smaller resort) was also 51 without the e-card this time.

Fro those Scottish ski centres that are visibly investing in slope facilities, I do think there is a case for (current) Scottish ticket prices being slightly higher - esp given e.g. at Glencoe - Snow Factory and new chairs at Glenshee.

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Re: How much for a day pass at a World class Scottish resort?
Date Posted: 14.07hrs on Tue 2 Jan 18
Take a step back and look at the hospitality industry in the whole of Britain...

Outside of a few very expensive hotels in London catering for the jet set, the experience is generally very poor.

For tourism, we are cursed with terrible weather.

Example: in the south of England, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall; magnificent Victorian-era resorts are decaying and sell tat at expensive prices. Hotels remain unfurbished since the 60s. The food is nearly always crap. There is an air of decay and resignation. Why would working people spend upwards of 150 a day to take a summer holiday in such a place when they can get guaranteed sunshine, heat and great food for a fraction of that price in the Med?

Same in the Highlands, why spend a fortune when you can get better and cheaper elsewhere?

So the dilemma is how to address this, because tourism is a massive industry in the UK but very few foreigners visiting our country travel very far outside of London and Edinburgh, and Brits themselves like to get away (for the reasons outlined above).

One way would be to offer an experience that is unique. We have wonderful history and culture. But sadly, we lie to ourselves when we pretend about our warm welcome and hospitality. The service in our country, from B&Bs from Dorset to Inverness, is shite. It really is p1ss poor. Grumpy, nosey landlords, poor food, unfriendly locals, terrible local services, tacky souvenirs (come to Scotland and by a McJimmy hat and some shortbread!)

Just look at what is happening at Cairngorm Mountain. The most snow sure spot in the whole of the UK. If you could only build one ski area, it would be there. Systematically mismanaged for decades. This cannot be just bad luck. Similar areas in New England and the midwest of the USA and Germany manage to provide excellent service.

Several years ago, I had a friend and his wife visit from Australia. We toured the Highlands. Because of their presence, I became acutely tuned to the standards of hospitality, the attitude of people that I would normally not notice. It was embarrassing. Believe it or not, my friend almost came to blows with a landlord in the Kyle because of a stupid argument about how cold his room was (it was January and the heating was off, and there were just scratchy old thin blankets on the bed) and the landlord's attitude was "take it or effing leave it you Aussie basket".

Sadly, this is not unique. We lie to ourselves about our welcoming attitude and hospitality. We are generally not friendly, we just like to pretend we are. Is it any wonder our hotels are becoming more and more staffed with beautiful, educated, friendly Eastern Europeans, that for the most part, speak better English than the locals? No wonder the hospitality industry is in a panic about the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

In the absence of a climate that is good for tourism, then we must concentrate on our hospitality and make it worth somebody spending their money outside of London/Edinburgh. Let's face it, I live here and have the money and time to spend far more time in the countryside and Highlands than I do. And I don't...

Anyway, rant over.

Colorado in March!

Edited 3 times. Last edit at 14.10hrs Tue 2 Jan 18 by WeeSam.

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Re: How much for a day pass at a World class Scottish resort?
Date Posted: 14.51hrs on Tue 2 Jan 18
Thread derail ahead.... (sort of related).

The Fife arms in Braemar looks like it's pitching at very "high end" clients.

However, similar ventures "out in the sticks" have found the local employment pool is more agricultural/forestry focused and not so much "high end" hospitality.

The above is in no way written in the pejorative - there are many tractors in Chelsea, but you'd be hard pushed to find a farmer there.

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Re: How much for a day pass at a World class Scottish resort?
Date Posted: 14.55hrs on Tue 2 Jan 18
Courchevel 1850 March 10th for 2 adults 7 nights.

- Return flights to Lyon- 44pp (yes, really)
- Car Hire- 120 +30 petrol
- Accommodation in 1850 (apartment sleeps 4, only 2 going) - 300pp
- 6 day lift pass- 257pp (42 per day for 600km of piste)
- couple of hundred on supermarket food and booze.

I dont think Scottish resorts can charge anymore for their lift pass. 36 per day at Cairngorm just isnt realistic when one can go to one of the most famous and best resorts in the world for a similar price as an unguaranteed week of potential rain and wind in Aviemore.


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Re: How much for a day pass at a World class Scottish resort?
Date Posted: 17.01hrs on Tue 2 Jan 18
this is a multi-threaded problem.

Why would you spend money skiing at Cairngorm? What do you want for your money?

Guaranteed skiing for a start. That can be achieved for the most of the season by investing in a huge snow making system, which would cost several millions. But do-able. Then a decent, integrated, fast lift system. Again several million. But doable.

But then you have the tertiary industries - the hotels, bars, local services, transport links. If these are not up to scratch, nobody will want to come, and if they do, and they are bad, they will not want to return.

So there is a catch 22 - successful on mountain operations rely on good quality off mountain experience. These are run by different people.

Would you spend hundreds of thousands updating your hotel if nobody is going to come because there is no snow? Are you going to spend millions improving the mountain infrastructure if nobody is going to come because the local facilities are crap?

Personally, I feel the holiday experience has to be improved first. As I moaned earlier - this is not unique to the Highlands, the entire country is plagued by poor, outdated service. The British are used to littered streets, warm beer, re-heated pub food. But we are also more and more used to going abroad and getting proper service. It's quite common for British people to go back to the same small village in France or Greece year after year because of the excellent service.

Improvements need to start at the bottom.

I can't see that happening because most of the holiday "resorts" in this country haven't seen a change of curtains or a lick of paint since the 60s. Most of our grand holiday destinations, from Margate to Aviemore will not see better days. There is just not the will, or need, for it to happen.

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 17.03hrs Tue 2 Jan 18 by WeeSam.

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Re: How much for a day pass at a World class Scottish resort?
Date Posted: 17.02hrs on Tue 2 Jan 18
Heres a list of 2018 winter prices per day for a weekend day in Scotland

Cairgnorm: 36
Nevis Range: 34.50
Glencoe: 32
Glenshee: 30
Lecht: 30 (16/17 price as not updated yet)

Arranged in highest to lowest order per day.

Personally, I dont think thats too bad. Many resorts are investing in snow-making, new chairs etc and pany of them are the bottom cheapest.

Ill take your example and break it down into per day as gives best overview of a weeks break from current posts.

Total price for your 7 nights is around 751. (ive excluded the food and booze from prices)

That makes it still ~100/day for your full trip.

Guaranteed snow....yes.
Similar pricing..... not in my opinion

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Re: How much for a day pass at a World class Scottish resort?
Date Posted: 17.11hrs on Tue 2 Jan 18
I was in Savognin last year. Six-day pass was 250 Swiss Francs.

Looking at their prices this year - weekend day price 57 swiss Francs - that's about 43. Not much more than Cairngorm.

If you are from anywhere in the UK more than 4 or 5 hours from Cairngorm, and 95% of the population are, a week in Savognin is cheaper than a week in Aviemore, once you include food, transport, accommodation etc. Especially if you are a couple, or a group and can share a lodge.

Its a real dilemma, because the UK just cannot compete with abroad on price, and DEFINITELY cannot compete with climate (be it snow in winter, or sunshine in summer); so it must compete on quality....its up to the individual to decide if we are good at that. My experiences are clear.


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Re: How much for a day pass at a World class Scottish resort?
Date Posted: 17.24hrs on Tue 2 Jan 18
One lesson Scotland can learn from the US, which only Glencoe has (so far) had the good sense to implement is differential pricing for weekend and mid-week tickets.

The Scottish market is mostly comprised of day and weekend visitors, so pricing your offering to encourage more people to come on days when things are quite makes a lot of sense and it requires no capital investment, while having the potential to increase revenue and reduce crowds at the weekends. I remember skiing a perfect blue skies day at Glenshee on a Monday a few years back (after a fairly grotty weekend), but the place was almost completely empty. Knocking 10 of the lift ticket might have gotten a few more people on the slopes and increased the take in the cafe.

Not sure I agree with the assessment of the standards of hospitality in the UK, I've had good and bad both here, in Europe and the US. I've not noticed a significant difference. That might be because I'm not fussy and only really care about having somewhere warm and dry to lay my head.

Re crowds, I suspect the high prices, relative remoteness of the Rockies and limited paid holiday in the US probably are the reason for this. People have less time in which to go skiing, meaning less people on the slopes who have to be charged more to cover the fixed costs of operating a ski area.

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Re: How much for a day pass at a World class Scottish resort?
Date Posted: 09.27hrs on Wed 3 Jan 18
Comparing the Scottish resorts to international destinations like Verbier / Courcheval or Vail totally misses the point. It is a common mistake made by the UK ski press - who view skiing as a posh holiday as opposed to weekend sporting activity. Often those who dismiss Scottish skiing simply live too far away winking smiley

A much fairer comparison is the small local resorts which are found all over Europe. Below is a wiki-list of all the ski resorts in Europe. ~95% of them of you will never have heard of. Surpassingly Germany has 498 ski resorts - more than any other nation in Europe!


In Scotland we have small resorts where the core audience is opportunistic weekenders within day trip able distance. Approx 5-10 million people live in within 4-5 hours drive of the Scottish resorts. This is the core audience of people who can easily strike when the snow turns good.

Of course you can travel abroad and find some cracking deals. However this takes planning, time off work and prior commitment to dates. The Scottish season usually lasts from Jan -> April - so still plenty time for most locals to find weekends to ski at home. If you look at the total cost of any ski trip then the lift pass is only one part. Petrol / accommodation / food / beer / equipment <etc> will cost you much more.

As ever it is best to appreciate Scottish skiing for what it is, rather than what it is not.

Edited 2 times. Last edit at 09.56hrs Wed 3 Jan 18 by Doug_Bryce.
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