Sam Pullos sneaks behind the gold plated curtains of North America’s private ski clubs and exclusive lift passes. You can too, for a cost…
A lot of us spend our free time and available dollars hucking across the globe in search for fresh powder. Cold beer, warm ramen, cheesy poutine and buffalo wings are the perks of being a member in the elusive club of precipitation addicted explorers.
But not all those out riding powder mountains belong to the same club. If you have the cash, and a lot of it, then you could leave us plebs behind.
Welcome to the world of elite lift passes, private clubs and private resorts. That’s right, private resorts.
The USA Gold Pass
If you’re focus is primarily North America and dollars aren’t a consideration, there is the USA Gold Pass. A cool $10,000 will give you priority access to a list of North American resorts far too exhaustive, 250 to be exact, for me to go through here. It is worth mentioning that $9000 of the pass cost is tax deductible; sales go towards supporting the U.S. Ski Team and U.S. Snowboarding & Freeskiing.
The Ski Utah Gold Pass
Are you a Utah devotee? Then hand over US$4800 and you could be swinging a Ski Utah Gold Pass from that 24 carat gold lanyard chain of yours. The Ski Utah Gold Pass is a fully transferable pass so your friends and family can enjoy your same privileges on the days you’re not using the pass. Every Ski Utah Gold Pass is valid for 50 days of skiing at EACH of Utah’s 14 resorts except Park City, where the pass is valid for 100 days of skiing. The cost of the Gold Pass is $4,800.
Montana Yellowstone Club
Leading the way in private skiing is Montana’s Yellowstone Club. Membership to this exclusive club affords you access to the breathtaking clubhouse with outdoor, slope-side hot tub and fire pit, full spa and fitness facilities as well as restaurant and bar. In fact, you have access to an array of private fine dining and casual eateries and cocktail options, each as stunning as the next.
Then there is the 2,200 acres of private ski field. That’s right, no lift lines here. You can start on the perfectly groomed runs and end somewhere up the top of the resort’s 2,700 foot (830 meters) vertical in fresh powder and cliff drops. If all the untracked snow and empty queues become a little isolating, you can always pop over to Big Sky resort. After all, lift tickets there are included in your membership.
So, how much will all of this exclusivity cost you? Well, you have to own property in this private residence of course, so anywhere from $2.5 million for a condo to $25 million for a mansion. Oh, and then there is the small $300,000 joining fee and $37,500 annual upkeep fee. I guess that’s what it takes if you want to rub shoulders with the likes of Bill Gates and JT (Justine Timberlake).
The Hermitage Club
The Hermitage Club is the East Coast’s only private ski resort and golf club. Located at Haystack Mountain, Vermont, the club sets itself up as an all season destination for those living in on-site residences as well as those looking for a holiday. Unlike Yellowstone Club, you do not have to own property at The Hermitage to enjoy their facilities.
An $80-85,000 membership fee and $4,250-8,500 annual upkeep will grant you six friday-to-friday stays annually and accomodation in your preferred residence. However, only 2 of these weeks may be in the ski season. So, to take full advantage of the club and its seasonal offerings, a purchased residence is really a must. Seems reasonable.
Canada’s private resorts
Canada also offers a host of private resorts, most of which exist in Southern Ontario. Caledon, Devil’s Glen, Beaver Valley and Heights of Horseshoe are all private ski resorts offering property owners luxury, exclusive access to the slopes and a bit of a pat on the back for their vocational success.
Membership ranges from $11,000 to $60,000 thousand with up to $7,000 in annual fees plus the cost of a house. Granted, this pales in comparison to the lavish Yellowstone club, but then you are skiing in Ontario rather than the North-Western Rocky Mountains.
PRIVATE SLOPESIDE CLUBS
Alongside the growth of private resorts has been the growing popularity of private slope-side clubs. Think golf clubs. They generally don’t offer lodging, but they do offer access to beautiful facilities, perks such as express line privileges, spa and fitness facilities, parking, ski lockers and storage as well as 5-star dining. And then there is the social scene.
Without further a due, here is our selection of 4 of the most exclusive, plush and extravagant hill-side member’s clubs in the USA.
Vail Mountain Club
Vail has long been known for its A-list guest roster and 5-star offerings. It is no surprise then that it should lead the pack in members only ski clubs.
Joining the social elite at Vail Mountain Club (and sister clubs at Vail) won’t come cheap. The membership deposit is $275,000 along with a yearly upkeep of $6,830.
So, what do you get apart from status? Access to a stunning, on-mountain clubhouse, spa and fitness centre, club concierge & valet parking. You also won’t need to carry your skis, there is a ski valet and year-round ski storage for that.
Then there is the 5-star dining and bar from which you will get ‘complimentary’ daily continental breakfast plus a soup and salad lunch (wohoo).
I’ll let you decide if it’s worth it.
Aspen Mountain Club
Like it’s Colorado comrade, Vail, Aspen is known for being a playground for the rich and famous. The Aspen Mountain Club is a reflection of that. Membership grants you a lifetime ski-pass at Aspen and a ski locker at the Little Nell.
The centre piece is the renowned private hilltop clubhouse. Here, you can look over the breathtaking mountain range, dine in class, lounge, bathe in mud or have a cocktail at one of the glorious bars. Do it all whilst rubbing shoulders with the Aspen A-listers. Reciprocity with clubs at St. Moritz and Gstaad in Switzerland is a bonus.
Membership to the Aspen Mountain Club is $125,000 with additional yearly payments of $4000.
Beaver Creek Club
A mere $45-60,000 will gain you entrance to the Beaver Creek Club. It’s offerings are similar to that of Vail’s however no ski passes are included. That is unless of course, you buy a house in Bachelor’s Gulch, Beaver Creek Landing or Red Sky Ranch. Then membership is $35-45,000 and includes your lifts passes. Lucky.
Along with all of the amenities offered by the clubs listed above, like access to beautiful spa facilities, membership to the Telluride Ski & Golf Club brings significant on-mountain advantages. Access to the mountain before it opens to the public guarantees first tracks, every morning. Private access to the mountain, two fully transferable season passes, and a plethora of discount passes for friends and guests means you’ll be getting the most out of each season.
Membership also includes skiing/boarding clinics, so there will be no excuse for not ‘walking the walk’.
Stowe Mountain Club at Spruce Peak is another American ski and golf club destination offering luxury, decadence and exclusivity on the snow. Members enjoy season passes to spruce peak, access to the ski-in/ski-out member club, farm-to-table private dining, 21,000 square foot spa and slope-side valley parking. Organised ski races and social events are also spread out through member’s winter calendar.
Summertime brings with it the golfing season. Member have full access to the golf course and members-only golf competitions.
The Legacy Membership fee is $150,000. Exclusive to Spruce Peak membership, $80,000 of the fee can be put towards the purchase of a club registered residence.