A-Basin, Arapahoe Basin, skiing

Arapahoe Basin ski area and Vail Resorts announced Feb. 18 they are ending their 22-year pass partnership.

“We are very proud of how wonderful Arapahoe Basin has become from the unparalleled skiing and riding to the incredible scenery,” Arapahoe Basin Chief Operating Officer Alan Henceroth said. “… [T]he ski area has developed a very special community that feels like home. In order to continue to build on this spirit and the experience we have created, Arapahoe Basin and Vail Resorts will not be renewing their pass partnership for the 2019/2020 season.”

Vail Resorts season passes that are currently valid at A-Basin will remain valid for the rest of the 2018-19 season.

After investing $40 million over the past 15 years, A-Basin has seen exceptional growth in popularity and skier visitation, according to a news release issued by the ski area.

While A-Basin still has plenty of room for skiers and riders, the release said, the ski area is feeling a pinch on parking and facility space and believes its staff can take better care of its guests by separating from Vail Resorts.

“Our goal is to minimize waiting and crowding and maximize experiences and fun,” Henceroth said. “Looking forward, we strive to provide ready and easy access for our guests.”

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In the coming months, the ski area will be discussing opportunities with several resorts and resort groups, the release stated.

Vail Resorts issued a statement coinciding with A-Basin’s release.

“We are disappointed but given the success they have had and their recent investments into the resort, we respect that this is the right time for them to move in a different direction,” Chief Marketing Officer Kirsten Lynch said.

Situated high on the Continental Divide, A-Basin offers some of the highest skiable terrain in North America. It sports one of the longest ski seasons in America as well, typically October through early June.

It is often the first ski area in Colorado to open and the last to close. During the 2017-18 season, the area was open from Oct. 13, 2017 to June 3, 2018, with lifts turning for 234 days.

During the 2017-18 season, A-Basin undertook a 468-acre expansion — The Beavers and The Steep Gullies — increasing its skiable area to 1,428 acres and nine lifts with a capacity of 11,300 people per hour. The new area features 34 new intermediate, advanced and expert runs and a new four-person lift.

New guest amenities include the Kids Center, a new season pass office and updated retail and dining areas. The rental shop recently underwent a $50,000 renovation, adding specialized boot-fitting stations and an upgraded higher-end ski and snowboard demo fleet.

Vail Resorts’ portfolio includes Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Crested Butte and Keystone in Colorado; Park City in Utah; Stowe and Okemo in Vermont; Mt. Sunapee in New Hampshire; Stevens Pass in Washington; Afton Alps in Minnesota; Mt. Brighton in Michigan; Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada; Perisher in Australia; and Blackcomb in Canada.

With recent investments into Keystone’s snowmaking equipment, Vail Resorts aims to “position the resort to be the first resort to open in the U.S., while Breckenridge Ski Resort just announced plans to extend winter seasons through Memorial Day,” Vail Resorts’ release stated.

Vail Resorts also announced it will issue a new pass for the 2019-20 season called the Keystone Plus, which will be valid for unlimited access at Keystone Resort, late spring skiing at Breckenridge, and five dates at Crested Butte. The pass will replace the Keystone A-Basin Pass.

Vail Resorts provides a comprehensive, high-end experience including snow sports and exceptional lodging, dining and shopping. According to Vail Resorts’ website, its ancillary businesses comprise more than half of its mountain revenue.