The partnership represents the first Asian partner for the company, further enhancing the already incredible value of its flagship and industry-changing season pass. Epic Season Pass holders have the opportunity to experience unlimited and unrestricted skiing and riding at the best of the USA, including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Canyons in Park City, Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in Lake Tahoe; and now five complimentary consecutive days at Niseko, Japan, for the 2014-2015 winter season. In less than a week of skiing and riding, the Epic Pass pays for itself and continues to offer the best value in the snow sports industry, with access to 28,830 skiable acres and 27,136 vertical feet at the best ski and snowboard resorts in the U.S., as well as complimentary access to mountains across multiple continents.
“We’re excited to announce a partnership between Vail Resorts and Niseko, Japan, providing access to a part of the world that is legendary for its endless powder and overall incredible guest experience,” says Kirsten Lynch, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts. “Epic Pass holders now have access to the epic skiing and riding for which Japan is world-renowned.”
“It’s no wonder that we have Epic Pass holders in all 50 U.S. states and in 80 countries around the world,” she adds. “They enjoy an incredible resort experience and unmatched value, with unlimited, unrestricted access to Vail Resorts’ 10 ski resorts.”
Vail Resorts’ includes Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Canyons, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood as well as Arapahoe Basin in Colorado, and Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan.
The 2014-2015 Epic Pass provides holders with five free days at Niseko, Japan, as well as unlimited, unrestricted skiing in Colorado, Utah, and Tahoe. The Epic Pass pays for itself in just over five days of skiing or riding. The Epic Pass will be available for purchase beginning today, March 10, 2014, at epicpass.com.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled about our partnership with Vail Resorts, as the preeminent mountain resort company in the U.S.,” says Colin Hackworth, Representative Director of Nihon Harmony Resorts, representing Niseko United. “Niseko, Japan, is revered around the world for its consistently light, dry powder snow and warm Japanese hospitality. We welcome the opportunity for more Epic Pass holders to experience this very special part of the world and look forward to seeing them on our trails.”
Located 100 kilometers south of Japan’s fifth largest city, Sapporo, in the southwest corner of the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, Niseko Annupuri is a part of the Niseko-Shakotan-Otaru Kaigan Quasi-National Park and is the most eastern park of the Niseko Volcanic Group. Seasonal winds from the Eurasian continent blow in some of the driest, lightest and plentiful snow in the world. Set against the backdrop of Mt. Yotei—an active volcano similar to Mt. Fuji—the Niseko region boasts not only epic skiing and riding, but also breathtaking scenery. At night, the mountain is lit up with stadium-style lights which brighten 2,560 vertical feet of skiing and riding. Deep-powder trails through lit birch trees are a Niseko staple, offering sheltered stashes of untouched powder skiing. Niseko boasts an average jaw-dropping 590 inches (15m) of snow per year.
In 2008, Forbes crowned Niseko one of the Top 10 International Ski Resorts, and more recently, National Geographic voted Niseko as the best powder snow resort in the world.
Niseko United, as it’s commonly referred to, is made up of four base areas—Annupurri, Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village and Hanazono—that access one mountain, Niseko Annupuri (4,291 feet). With wide open trails, incredible tree runs, epic backcountry, first tracks and night-skiing, Niseko caters to all abilities, from beginner to expert. For the adventurers, hiking trails lead from the highest lifts to the summit. An extensive lift system of 26 chairlifts and three gondolas accesses 72 trails.
Aside from world-class skiing, the Niseko area is known for its premium agriculture and locally brewed alcohol. Local restaurants import fresh seafood from nearby towns and villages and the area is home to a vast array of restaurants and bars with everything from authentic Japanese fare to European cuisine. Being a volcanic island, Hokkaido is also well-known for its thousands of natural hot springs, or ‘onsen’.
There are many non-stop flights between Tokyo’s Narita International airport and several major US cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver and New York. Niseko is typically open from November through May.
The five free consecutive days of skiing and riding will be reciprocated for Niseko All-Mountain Season Pass holders, allowing more guests from Japan, China and surrounding areas to experience Vail Resorts’ world-class mountain resorts.
Access to Niseko is only provided to Epic Pass holders and not holders of other passes offered by Vail Resorts (Epic Local, Tahoe Local, Summit Value and Tahoe Value). In addition to the five days of free skiing at Niseko and other partner resorts, Epic Pass and all Vail Resorts season pass holders will continue to receive exclusive offers on lodging, dining, ski rentals, equipment, ski school and special events for the 2014-2015 ski and snowboard season. All season pass products are non-transferable and non-refundable.
For more information about Niseko, visit its website here.
Carrie Coolidge is a Pursuitist contributor based in Manhattan. From 2009 to 2011, Carrie served as Co-Editor of Luxist, the luxury lifestyle website at AOL where she ran the Luxist Awards, a program that honored the very best in fine living. From 1996 to 2009, Carrie was a Staff Writer at Forbes magazine, where she covered real estate, personal finance and the insurance industry, among other areas. Carrie is also the author of six books, including "The Business of America is Business". Follow her on Twitter: @carriecoolidge