Friday, August 16, 2013

Biggest Skiing in America - Yellowstone, Big Sky, Moonlight - Boom!

I hate to say I told you so, but I did. I tweeted, on July 26, 2013 - ‏"@FamilySkiTrips26 Jul The Yellowstone Club to buy The Club at Spanish Peaks with Big Sky Resort! Good ski news! What's next? Maybe they buy @MoonlightBasin too #BiggestSkiinginAmerica #Boom http://fb.me/QLf1vITJ  "

Prediction come true: on August 15, 2013 Yellowstone Club owner CrossHarbor Capital, in partnership with Boyne Resorts, who owns and operates Big Sky Resort, announced that they are acquiring Moonlight Basin from Lehman Brothers Holdings. 

Big Sky will manage Moonlight Basin, they already share a lift  - the Iron Horse quad, share flanks of  Lone Peak's awesome terrain, and offer an interconnected lift ticket. For the past three seasons,  Big Sky & Moonlight Basin have marketed the Biggest Skiing in America.... a combined area of 5,700 ski-able acres, 4,350 vertical feet and 23 chairlifts. These stats eclipse Vail's 5,200 and rivals that of Whistler/Blackcomb.

Well, that big Montana ski experience just got bigger if you consider Moonlight Basin abuts Big Sky which neighbors Yellowstone Club and Spanish Peaks - another private ski community with lifts and lodges including the Pinnacle atop the Ram Charger lift at Big Sky. I don't see Yellowstone Club dropping their secure boundaries and letting the riff raff in anytime soon, but the  modest terrain at Spanish Peaks will likely become fair game.

I am a huge fan of Big Sky - one of my favorite ski resorts anywhere. Moonlight Basin also makes my list - it has been a sleeping giant, no big crowds and pretty amazing terrain - comparable to neighboring Big Sky.  Moonlight has its own community of stunning slope side homes and a gorgeous mid-mountain Lodge but struggled through foreclosure with Lehman Brothers. I believe the Moonlight giant is about to be awakened. Boyne (who owns Sunday River, Sugarloaf, Loon, Boyne, Boyne Highlands, and Brighton) is big on quality lifts, grooming and snowmaking, Yellowstone is all about posh lodging and exclusivity. An interesting Montana match made for skiers.

Stay tuned.. and be sure to follow family ski trips on twitter - for breaking news in the ski biz! 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Back to School - Ski bargains for College Students!

Ok, so I wish I could go back to college. I see the excitement in my two kids' eyes as they pack and plan for their fall semesters on campus.  New curriculum, seeing their classmates, and of course the anticipation of keggers and crazy times . My envy really piques when I see the annual season pass deals that roll out for college students. Certainly incentive to roll out of bed on weekends and hit the ski slopes.   

Here is a "new"  New England pass deal for college students - the 4.0 College Pass. Clever name, and an impressive conglomerate of 4 mountains - Okemo Mountain Resort, Killington Resort, Pico Mountain and Mount Sunapee Resort. And the price is nice at $369, if you purchase (or Mom and Dad do) by December 15, 2013. Even better scholastic news, the pass has no blackout dates - so you can ski during holidays, college break, Presidents weekend, you get the drill. There is also a buddy bonus, you can bring up to five college friends for 50% off tickets. Sounds like a plan, and an apr├Ęs ski party! The 4.0 College Pass gets students 378 trails or 150 miles of skiable terrain with 8,727 vertical feet at the 4 ski resorts, 19 terrain parks and 59 lifts - how's that for some Econ 101. Vermont and New Hampshire road trip anyone?

A smart student should compare that 4.0 pass to the College New England Pass, which is $349 if you buy before Nov 30, with unlimited skiing at Sunday River,  Sugarloaf and Loon. These three ski areas combine to give students  347 trails, 42 lifts, 2,265 acres and 7,260 vertical feet, to weigh in to their winter decision making.  Obviously ideal for students in proximity to Maine and New Hampshire ski slopes.  

Jay Peak and Burke Mountain have a Judge Pass for just $199 at the Northern Vermont sister ski resorts, but you need to jump on that price by September 5.

So make Dean's List, and make a decision on where to do your downhill thesis this season. The college pass deals will be making a splash at college fairs everywhere. Enjoy the student discount during those sweet four years before reality, careers and real ski sticker shock sets in.