Jay Peak, Waterville Valley Re-Sign With Indy Pass for 2023-24
Indy limits pass sales, switches to physical pass, eliminates service fee; current passholders can renew now through March 21
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Jay Peak stays.
Waterville Valley too. I’ll get to that, but Waterville’s status as a future Indy partner was never in doubt. Jay has a new owner. An owner with no previous Indy Pass affiliation. And Jay could have gone anywhere. Epic. Ikon. Mountain Collective. Ikon and Mountain Collective. Jay Peak is the best ski area in New England. Speaking terrain-wise, mind you. And if it’s not the best, it’s right there with Sugarloaf and Stowe and Smuggs and Sugarbush. Like the five-star high school quarterback, the mountain could pick its school. Hats arrayed on a table, cameras aimed, he makes his choice…
Jay Peak chose Indy.
No blackouts. Again.
“It fits us,” Jay Peak General Manager Steve Wright told The Storm Skiing Journal on Sunday. “And we have such an interesting operating calendar, given the blend of Canadian and U.S., that we really aren’t terribly compressed over those typically restricted periods. I mean we’ll see pulses, but so long as the wind leaves us alone – which admittedly happens less frequently than we’d like – our lines and queues move pretty well. Probably the index of gladed terrain our folks tend to ride; it slows everyone down a little. And we like the folks on Indy we’ve seen so far – seems they fit us pretty well too.”
A sigh of relief, New England #IndyNation. Your star returns.
Indy announced the return of its top two draws today as part of its 2023-24 pass release. As of last Wednesday, the pass was under new ownership, and Indy confirmed some immediate changes that they had teased in that announcement. Most notable and consequential: a limit on the number of passes they will sell.
“Our passholders choose Indy Pass because it offers access to a fantastic lineup of independent resorts with less crowded slopes and laid-back vibes,” said Indy Pass founder Doug Fish. “As we grow, the last thing we want to do is overwhelm our resorts and ruin the experience for their guests. As such, we will be restricting sales of all adult products.”
To ensure its best customers don’t get shut out, Indy will hold an early-bird pass sale exclusively for existing and former Indy Pass holders. Here are the 2023-24 pass prices, which are valid from today through March 21:
There are several ways to consider these prices: against historic Indy Pass retail rates, and in the context of last season’s 10 percent renewal discount for returning passholders. The 2023-24 renewal rates for adult Indy Base and Indy+ passes are equal to last year’s retail rates. All other pass types ticked upward a bit, but the biggest change is in the Indy Base kids pass, which jumps 25 percent, from $119 last year to $149:
Since we’re still above the paid subscriber line, I know Angry Ski Bro has stumbled across this article, and the steam rolling from his ears could move a locomotive from Chicago to Pittsburgh in under an hour. Any price increase is an assault to this guy’s egocentric universe. Check yourself Brah – the pass still costs around the same as a single-day walk-up lift ticket at Vail Mountain or Steamboat. And besides, Indy has added 58 new partner mountains since 2022-23 passes went on sale: 25 full alpine partners, plus 19 cross-country centers and 14 ski areas in its Allied discount program. Here’s what Indy has added in just the past year:
That’s more partners than Indy Pass offered in either of its two first seasons, added since last April. It’s worth looking, anyway, at the complete expected 2023-24 roster. Again, the only two that are locked in at this time are Jay Peak and Waterville Valley. Snow Valley, now the property of Alterra Mountain Company, is certainly exiting, as noted below. But Indy has only lost four other partners in four seasons – Marmot Basin (exited in favor of Mountain Collective), Mt. Abram (left for lack of vision), Cannonsburg (kicked off for unspecified contract violations), and Giants Ridge (removed “to balance regional density,” according to Fish, when the pass added Lutsen and Granite Peak). Of course, with 139 partners, some attrition is likely, but here’s our baseline (blackout dates were for the 2022-23 ski season):
To safeguard both potentially disappointed passholders and itself, Indy has revived its refund policy through Sept. 1 for anyone who buys the pass through May 1. Framed as an “Indy Pass Partner Participation Promise,” it guarantees a full refund “if the resorts they plan to visit are not participating in the program.” So if, say, Pow Mow bounces, you can get your cash back and go buy an Ikon Pass for your trip to Utah.
Anyone who hasn’t previously held an Indy Pass can get first dibs on 2023-24 passes when the renewal period ends by joining the waitlist here. Indy has not yet set prices for this tier, but it is likely they will increase from the renewal rates. The general public will then be able to buy whatever’s left, beginning April 1. Here’s the schedule:
March 6 to 21: Early-bird sale for current or former Indy Pass holders
March 24 to 30: Sale to waitlist members
April 1 until passes sell out: Sale to general public
It is not clear where Indy is setting the limit, but SAM reported on Wednesday that “the cap will still allow Indy Pass to grow its consumer sales substantially next year.”
A final change: As previously reported (and first reported in SAM), Indy will transition to a physical pass for 2023-24. Indy will eliminate the widely hated (but, in my opinion, necessary) three percent service charge, but will add a $10 fee to print and ship the pass, which is intended to offer direct-to-lift access at yet-to-be-designated partners.
That’s a lot of changes, without altering anything fundamental: Indy’s killer price point, broad and compelling partner network, and simple redemption structure. The physical pass has the potential to be great for the organized among us, and a pain in the ass for resorts if they have to deal with Lost Pass Bro – though hopefully ski areas can simply revert to the current process in those circumstances. The most contentious piece of this is the pass sales limit, which has the potential to alienate both potential passholders and partner resorts, even if it helps uber-busy Cannon and Waterville Valley from being overrun.
Taken as a whole, we can interpret Indy’s 2023-24 pass announcement as an indication of how Entabeni Systems will manage its new toy: gentle experimentation rooted in a don’t-drop-the-baby respect for the pasta monster that Doug Fish has improbably fashioned into the world’s vibe-iest mountain village. Here’s a deeper look at what’s changing, what it means for passholders and Indy’s resort partners, how important Jay Peak and Waterville are to the pass, and much more:
Below the paid subscriber jump: the importance of Jay and Waterville, are pass limits necessary?, thoughts on a physical pass, and more.