W-B discounts Spirit Pass to 1997/98 prices 

No increases in season passes for the first time in history; Sea to Sky students offered unlimited pass for $299

For the first time ever Whistler-Blackcomb is not increasing its season pass prices and is actually decreasing the price of a Spirit Pass.

Regular season pass prices will stay at $1,639, with an early bird offer of $1,329, the same as last season. But Spirit Pass holders get an added bonus this year with roughly $170 knocked off last year’s price.

A Spirit Pass, which is available to local employees who have completed the Spirit course and whose employer is a member of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, will cost $999 before taxes, which was exactly the cost of the pass seven years ago in the 1997/’98 season.

"We hope that this resonates really strongly with the local community," said Stuart Rempel, Senior Vice President, marketing and sales, with Whistler-Blackcomb.

"I think as a resort we have an overall value challenge here.

"We felt that we wanted to send a strong message out that we have to work as a team together on the value. And it really starts at home in providing the best possible value to the people that live here and make their livelihood here and contribute to the success of the resort."

Rempel said Whistler-Blackcomb understands from feedback in the community there are challenges to living in the community, that housing and the cost of activities is expensive in Whistler.

"We’ve done a lot in the destination market with a lot of partners in the resort, with Tourism Whistler, with the properties, with tour operators, to revive value to the destination guests. But I also think, based on the feedback that we’ve received, that there’s value issues in the regional market."

Passholders will get more perks with their 2004/05 season pass, in particular a 20 per cent discount on food at the Roundhouse Lodge, Glacier Creek and the Rendezvous mountain restaurants before 11:30 a.m. and after 1 p.m.

Though Spirit Pass and season pass holders are getting a deal this year, Sea to Sky students are in for some bigger news.

All students enrolled in school from D’Arcy to Squamish can get an unlimited pass for $299. Last year a Sea to Sky Student Pass was $209 but only gave students 10 days on the mountains.

"We found that a lot of kids would use up the first 10 days of their pass last year and then were very picky about the days that they skied," said Rempel.

"And we really don’t want them to be. We want kids just to have that (the pass) hanging around their neck and they can come up any time they feel like it.

"We believe that it’s a product that will really provide better value and it’ll get the kids away from the computer and TVs and onto the hill."

At the same time it discounts its passes, Whistler-Blackcomb is set to expand its terrain with an additional 1,100 acres.

The decision to keep the passes at last year’s prices and reduce the price of the Spirit Pass could impact Whistler-Blackcomb’s bottom line said Rempel, as the cost of their operations increases with the expansion.

For example, Whistler-Blackcomb has already spent $1.5 million on summer grooming of Peak to Creek.

But they expect great successes from the 2004/05 programs.

"Our strategy here is it’s not going to be acceptable to have the same number of visits here this coming year as we did last year," said Rempel.

"We’re certainly lowering our prices, which could potentially compromise our revenue, but at the same time we’re working in concert with all the other partners in the resort to drive more business here."

The season passes and Sea to Sky student passes will go on sale Tuesday, Sept. 7. Early bird rates for passes are available until Oct. 11. The following day Spirit Passes will go on sale.

The purchase deadline for the student card is Nov. 14.

For complete pass information call 604-932-3434 or visit www.whistlerblackcomb.com/passes.

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