Archive for March, 2011

Vail Resorts Announces Ski Pass Lineup

Morgan Bast –

Vail Resorts announced a the lineup of ski passes for the 2011/2012 ski season today. Skiers and riders can now purchase their pass to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar-at-Tahoe, and Arapahoe Basin for $49 down.

Next season passholders will see new benefits, names and prices for their passes, reflecting the addition of Northstar-at-Tahoe in 2010. Passes available for purchase are the Epic Pass, Epic Local Pass, Epic 7-Day, Summit Value Pass, and the Tahoe Value Pass.

“We worked really hard to determine the best 11/12 season pass lineup for both our local and destination guests,” Season Pass Marketing Manager Jill Nadlonek said. “We now have passes that are great for every guest across all seven resorts.”

In addition to securing the lowest season pass price, by putting $49 down for next season, passholders will receive exclusive offers on lodging, dining, ski rentals, equipment, ski school and special events for the 2011-2012 ski season as well as access for sightseeing and gondola rides for the 2011 summer. A few passholders will also see other benefits like unlimited skiing and riding at Vail and Beaver Creek in April 2012 and/or two free April lift tickets at Heavenly and Northstar-at-Tahoe if purchased before April 24, 2011. Each pass also has the benefit of six “Ski with a Friend” tickets — lowering the price on a daily lift ticket for passholders’ friends and family. All benefits are explained at

Here are the Vail Resorts ski passes broken down by price and benefits.

Epic Pass
The best deal in the industry, the Epic Pass offers unlimited, unrestricted skiing and snowboarding at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar-at-Tahoe and Arapahoe Basin. This pass is a great option for skiers and riders looking to visit over holidays or anyone else who is looking for an unlimited season.
Cost: $649 for adults, $329 for children (ages 5 to 12)
Get it at:

Epic Local Pass
Formerly known as the Colorado Pass, the Epic Local pass offers unlimited and unrestricted skiing or riding at Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin and includes10 restricted days at Vail or Beaver Creek. New this year, it also includes skiing or riding at Heavenly and Northstar-at-Tahoe, with limited restricted days (the same days as restricted at Vail and Beaver Creek). $50 pass holder tickets will be available for purchase during blackout dates at Northstar-at-Tahoe, Heavenly, Vail and Beaver Creek. Epic Local Passholders will also get four buddy tickets ($60 per ticket in Tahoe, $69 in Colorado) if purchased by May 30 as a spring benefit. This pass is perfect for locals that are comfortable navigating a few more restrictions.
Cost: $499 for adults, $379 for teens, $249 for children
Get it at: or

Epic 7-Day
Perfect for skiers and riders that will only ski seven days next ski season, the Epic 7-day offers unlimited skiing and riding at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, A-Basin, Heavenly, and Northstar-at-Tahoe any seven days of the season. So if you don’t want restrictions but will only ski seven days, this pass is perfect for you.
Cost: $499 for adults, $249 for children
Get it at:

Summit Value Pass
A great option for the Summit County skier, the Summit Value pass offers unlimited and unrestricted riding at A-Basin and Keystone, and limited restrictions at Breckenridge. Passholders will have the option to purchase $50 lift tickets at Breckenridge on restricted days. Benefits to this pass include half-priced tickets at Heavenly and Northstar-at-Tahoe, four buddy tickets (if purchased this spring only), and six “Ski-with-a-Friend” tickets.
Cost: $409 for adults, $319 for teens, $209 for children
Get it at:

Tahoe Value Pass
The Tahoe Value Pass is great for those who plan on mostly skiing Heavenly and Northstar-at-Tahoe. The Tahoe Value Pass excludes access to Northstar-at-Tahoe on Saturdays and has holiday blackouts for both resorts during the season but passholders can purchase access to either resort on restricted days for $50 per day. Benefits of this pass include unlimited half price tickets to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone, four buddy tickets (if purchased this spring only), six “Ski-with-a-Friend” tickets, and two free days at Heavenly and Northstar-at-Tahoe in April 2011 if purchased fully before the end of the 2010/2011 season.
Cost: $379 for adults, $299 for teens and seniors, $179 for children
Get it at:

All spring benefits, blackout dates and pass details are listed at Prices are only guaranteed through May 30, 2011.

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Sales of New U.S. Homes Tumble 16.9% to Record Low

Terry’s note:  This article speaks to the “macro view” of the housing market.  However, the micro market in the Vail Valley does share some characteristics of this trend.  The Vail Valley has very few new homes being built for the reason that you can buy a used home cheaper than you can build due to the number of foreclosures and short sales.  Also, many owners are underwater on their mortgages and can’t move.  Until this changes, the local construction industry will remain depressed. 

By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Sales of new single-family homes collapsed in February, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday, as a combination of high unemployment, tumbling prices and a glut of cheaper alternatives brought activity to a near-standstill.

New-home sales fell 16.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 250,000 in February, though January’s figures were revised higher to 301,000 from 284,000. Compared to February 2010, sales collapsed by 28%.

Every region but the West saw record lows, and in the Northeast, sales dropped by 50% compared to year-earlier levels.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a slight rise to a 290,000 rate in February. January’s sales were hurt in part by abnormally bad weather and the expiration of a California tax credit.

The new-home sales release is notoriously volatile, and the margin of error is plus or minus 19.1%. The less-volatile three-month average to February was 295,000, compared to 307,000 in January.

Demand for new homes is weak, constrained by still-high unemployment, a slow-growing economy, but most of all the remnants of the house-price bubble, with many owners unable to move due to being underwater on their mortgage.

Furthermore, it’s now far cheaper to buy an existing home due to the glut of foreclosed properties on the market.

The median price of a new home in February was $202,100, a dive of 13.9%, which is the largest one-month percentage drop on record. Even so, the median existing-home price was $156,100 in February.

In Dec. 2007, the first month of the Great Recession, the gap between the price of new and existing homes was far narrower, when a new home fetched $227,700 and a lived-in home cost $207,100.

At the current sales rate, there are supply of 8.9 months, the highest backlog since the 9.1 months in August 2010.

Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch’s Washington bureau chief.

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Ski Tips – Skiing on Groomed Runs. Part Two – Turn Initiation

As ski instructors, we sometimes over-complicate what it takes to make a ski turn.  I recently skied with an engineer.  Since I also come from an engineering background, we both had fun dissecting a ski turn in great detail.  We finally had to remind ourselves why we were on the mountain and went skiing.

I could probably talk for hours about how to initiate a ski turn.  But let me make it very simple – an edged ski is difficult to turn.  A flat ski is much easier to turn.  Manipulating our body to move a ski from an edged position to a flat position is the key to an efficient ski turn. 

Of course, now you ask “How do I manipulate my body to flatten my skis?”  Try standing on a relatively flat hill (a hill where you are comfortable) with your skis pointed across the slope so you aren’t moving.  If you aren’t moving or sliding down the hill, your skis are probably edged.  Try moving your center of mass slightly down the slope.  You skis should begin to flatten and you should begin to slide down the hill sideways.  You can also flatten a ski by shifting your knees downhill. 

Once you feel your skis sliding, practice edging your skis then “release” the edge (move to a flat ski).  Try releasing the edge during a traverse.  Once you have mastered the movement to “release” your edge and create a flat ski, try traversing, releasing your edge so you are sliding, then turn your skis. 

Hopefully, if done correctly, the skis will make a nice round turn with minimal effort.  Practice flattening your skis then turning until this movement is second nature.  If you can make this work, you are well on your way to efficient skiing.

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Americans Confident in Recovery of Real Estate Market

New national survey echoes the Vail Valley’s consumers’ belief in real estate as a good investment

Vail, Colorado — The majority of America’s potential homebuyers and sellers — 68 percent — believe that the real estate market and property values will recover in the next year or two, according to a new survey by Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services, a Prudential Financial, Inc. [NYSE:PRU] company.  This exceeds the 47 percent of Americans who expected house prices would rise in a similar survey conducted in April 2010, underscoring a more bullish outlook for the real estate market today.  In addition, 86 percent of Americans believe real estate is a good investment despite the market volatility of the past few years. The Prudential Real Estate Outlook Survey of 1,253 Americans between the ages of 25-64 in the market for buying a home was conducted Jan. 20-27, 2011.

The national survey reveals that six in 10 respondents are more interested in buying real estate (58%) and are optimistic about buying given the momentum of the economic recovery (59%).  It also shows that although the price of many Americans’ homes declined during the recession, 89 percent recognize they can also buy a new house at a lower price. 

“This survey clearly demonstrates that Americans nationally and locally continue to be optimistic about the real estate market and believe that home prices will rise,” said Michael Slevin, vice president of Prudential Colorado Properties.  “A key take away from the survey is although consumers recognize that it is a good time to buy, they are concerned about their ability to sell their homes. This is one of the reasons for a slowdown in some areas both locally and nationally.”

For those on the fence about buying, uncertainty about selling an existing home (77 percent), concern about getting a fair price for the home (67 percent) and emotions (58 percent) are holding them back.  For those who have sold homes in the past year, despite the down market 78 percent report that they were satisfied with the sale.  Of these, 32 percent were very satisfied with the final price of their home and 46 percent were grateful they were able to sell given market conditions.  A relatively small number, 22 percent, indicated that they were disappointed or resentful about the price they received for their home.

The survey highlighted Americans’ interest in trading up their homes.  Of the 45 percent looking to trade up, 64 percent wanted more space or property, 49 percent a nicer house and 41 percent a better neighborhood.  Only 21 percent surveyed said they were looking to scale down, and 34 percent said that they wanted a similar home.                

The survey highlighted the importance of getting the right price in today’s market —74 percent of buyers believe that many homes could meet their needs and that price is a significant differentiator, while 26 percent stated that they were willing to pay top of market for a home that specifically suits their needs.  In setting the right price, however, sellers were split—with 53 percent wanting to price right at or slightly below market to attract more bids and 47 percent wanting to price slightly higher than market and hoping to find a buyer willing to pay more.  

The majority of respondents underscored the importance of real estate agents in the process of buying or selling their home.  Seventy-five percent of those surveyed said that an agent is very important or essential to this process, with only 24 percent saying agents are helpful but not imperative. 

“Americans continue to see real estate brokers as having a very important role in helping them price, buy and sell their homes; which is reflective of our market as well,” added Slevin.  “Although the data underscores the value real estate brokers provide, it also shows that the industry needs to continue to work hard to meet clients’ unique needs.”   

The Prudential Real Estate Outlook Survey was conducted online. The margin of error is +/- 3 percent. A more detailed breakdown of the data is available, as well as supporting charts and visuals, at

Prudential Colorado Properties is celebrating its 40th anniversary and is a leader in the Vail Valley with seven sales offices, one property management office and 100 brokers. Visit any of their offices or online at 

Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services is Prudential’s integrated real estate brokerage franchise and relocation services business. Prudential Real Estate franchises are independently owned and operated. Companies are selected based upon outstanding performance records, high levels of customer service and shared business values with those of Prudential. Prudential Real Estate is one of the largest real estate brokerage franchise networks in North America, with more than 1,600 franchise offices and 54,100 sales professionals in the franchise Network as of Dec. 31, 2010.

Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial services leader with approximately

$784 billion of assets under management as of Dec. 31, 2010, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Leveraging its heritage of life insurance and asset management expertise, Prudential is focused on helping individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth. In the U.S., the company’s Rock symbol is an icon of strength, stability, expertise and innovation that has stood the test of time. Prudential’s businesses offer a variety of products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds, investment management, and real estate services. For more information, please visit

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Vail Resorts to invest $30M at Northstar-at-Tahoe

Good stuff from Vail Resorts.  Northstar is where I learned how to ski.  It is a fun resort.  This is great news for the resort.  I’ll need to visit.

Daily staff report
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado — Vail Resorts announced Wednesday its plans to spend $30 million on major capital improvement projects at its newest mountain resort, Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort, near Lake Tahoe, Calif.

The projects will “enhance the guest experience” both on the mountain and in the Village at Northstar for the 2011-2012 winter season, according to a statement released by the company Wednesday.

Plans include the installation of a new high-speed chairlift that will service expanded gladed terrain and additional ski trails, increasing the skiable terrain by 10 percent. Plans also include the construction of a new 500-seat on-mountain restaurant, new national retail outlets and a restaurant in the Village at Northstar.

“Northstar-at-Tahoe has been a great addition to our portfolio of world-class resorts and its performance since we acquired it in October 2010 underscores the rationale for our purchase,” said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts. “The initial consumer response to the combination of Northstar-at-Tahoe with Heavenly resort drove strong increases in season pass sales for both resorts, and that has translated into higher visitation, as Northstar-at-Tahoe is currently on track to achieve a record season in terms of visitation and revenue. We believe we are in the early stages of realizing tremendous potential at that resort and are moving aggressively to further elevate the profile of Northstar-at-Tahoe through the addition of a number of new signature amenities for the 2011-2012 ski season.”

Katz said the company is taking an aggressive approach with its Northstar investments.

The new chairlift, a detachable express quad, will be installed this summer on “The Backside” of the mountain.

The new lift will expand the resort’s lift capacity on The Backside, a popular area of the mountain known for its long, uninterrupted advanced trails and gladed tree skiing. Two new intermediate trails will be served by the lift, and new snowmaking will be installed on both Drifter, an existing ski trail that also provides access to The Backside, and one of the new trails.

In addition to the lift, a new on-mountain restaurant will be constructed this summer, offering 500 indoor seats as well as 200 outdoor deck seats. Centrally located on the mountain near the top of the Tahoe Zephyr Express lift, the new restaurant will have an open floor plan, large timbers and a big window wall. Guests will be able to access the new restaurant when skiing or riding off of the Tahoe Zephyr Express, Backside Express or Comstock Express lifts as well as the new express lift.

Since Northstar is located entirely on private lands, Vail Resorts can bypass the lengthy U.S. Forest Service approvals process for the new developments.

At the Village at Northstar, plans for next season include opening national retail outlets of Patagonia and Burton, as well as expanding the North Face store in a new location. The company also plans to add a new restaurant in the village.

Construction of the proposed capital improvement projects will begin this spring and summer, with completion expected prior to the start of the 2011-12 ski season.

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