Discount deadline approaches

Wednesday last day to get lowest prices on ski passes

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— Skiers, riders and, in many cases, their employers have until Wednesday to take advantage of the lowest prices offered by the Steamboat Ski Area on season passes and value cards for the upcoming ski season.

The cost of an adult season pass is $865 through Wednesday. The price goes up to $1,075 on Thursday and goes up again to $1,205 after Dec. 1.

Similarly, the cost of a 20 and 10 Value Pass will be $645 through Wednesday and goes up to $750 on Thursday. The 20 and 10 Value Pass allows skiers 20 days of skiing during the regular season Dec. 21 through April 4, 2002.

It allows those skiers and riders an additional 10 days to be used in either the early season, Nov. 22-Dec. 20, or in the spring season, April 5-15, 2002.

The ski area offers three other value pass levels, including: 10 and 10, $455 through Wednesday; 10 and 5, $390; and 5 and 5, $280. There are also reduced season pass rates for teens, children and seniors.

Wednesday is also a key deadline day for local employers seeking to catch a break on the deposits they must pay to hold merchant passes for winter employees, locking them in at early season rates. In return for a discount of more than 50 percent on the deposits, employers must agree to contribute to the funds being raised by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association to help underwrite this winter's ski season jet program.

The Merchant Pass program, which allows chamber members to purchase season passes and 20 and 10 value passes for their full-time employees, accounts for more than half of the adult season passes sold each year at Steamboat.

The program offers employers a payment plan on pass purchases for their employees. The ski area is offering a significant break on the deposits employers must pay for those who make contributions to the Airline Transportation Fund.

The fund underwrites ski season jet flights. The deposit for participants in the fund is $200. All other employers must make a deposit of $425 per pass.

The chamber is attempting to increase its members' contributions to the airline program to $850,000 this year, up from $750,000 last year.

"We were very successful with our flight program last winter, and because the planes had a higher occupancy, our final obligation will be less than anticipated," Chamber Executive Vice President Sandy Evans-Hall wrote in a letter to chamber members. "But having 11 percent fewer seats going into the season definitely resulted in a lack of destination skiers, especially during March."

Evans-Hall said the chamber will need to apply the $185,000 it carried over from last year's program and deplete its reserves as well as raising $850,000 to reach its goals for offsetting this year's $2.9 million airline budget. The Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. has committed $1.55 million to this year's airline program.

Last year, the restaurant, retail and activity industries set guidelines for their members of contributing .25 percent of sales to the airline program.

The Realtors established a voluntary transaction fee at closing. The lodging properties contributed $500,000 and some construction businesses also took part.

Evans-Hall said many businesses are planning to increase their pledges by 10 percent this year to help offset the costly addition of daily flights from Newark and Chicago to the airline schedule.

For more information about the airline program, call the chamber at 879-0882. For more information about season passes and value passes, call the ski corp. at 871-5252, or go online to www.steamboat.com/seasonpass.html.

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