Now is the time to purchase next year's ski passes, with early bird specials promising hundreds of dollars in savings.
With Vail Resorts' Epic Pass, holders gain unlimited access to the company's major U.S. resorts (Vail, Breckenridge and Northstar), and for the first time ever, five days at Japan's sprawling Niseko United. At $739, and $379 for children, it makes up its value if users spend more than a week on the slopes during the year.
There's also the Mountain Collective from Liftopia. Next winter's passes are on sale now for $359, covering two days each at twelve resorts—including big names like Whistler, Alta, and Squaw Valley. Anyone who buys the pass early will get a bonus day at one of the resorts as well as two free days in Thredbo Australia and Valle Nevado, Chile—two southern hemisphere resorts gearing up for their winter season right now.
And for families, it doesn't get much better than Intrawest's new Passport, which includes six days of skiing at each of the brand's six North American mountains (Steamboat and Winter Park, CO; Blue Mountain and Mont Tremblant in Canada; Stratton, VT; and Snowshoe in WV). What sets it apart is its sliding scale pricing structure: the first adult pays $549, additional adults pay $399, teens pay $199, and kids under twelve ski free. That means for families with young kids, an entire season of skiing can come out to under $1000.
Which is right for you? The Mountain Collective costs significantly less, but comes with a maximum number of ski-days. The Epic Pass is pricier, but has no vacation limit. With adult day passes hovering above $100, both options provide great value for those who spend considerable time on the slopes, and an even greater value when purchased this far in advance—not to mention the kid-friendly savings that can come with the Intrawest Passport.
Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure, and a member of the Trip Doctor news team.