Vail Resorts’ 2014-15 Epic Pass Now on Sale

Heavenly Mountain, on the California/Nevada border with spectacular view of Lake Tahoe is one of 11 US ski resorts plus Niseko United in Japan that is included on Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Access to 11 US Ski Resorts and Niseko United in Japan

The Epic Pass is now on sale for the 2014-15 season at epicpass.com. While more multi-resort passes continue to emerge, the Epic Pass is still unmatched in terms of popularity, access and value, offering unlimited and unrestricted skiing and riding  at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Canyons in Park City, Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe; Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan for the 2014-15 winter season. New this year, the Epic Pass also offers five free consecutive ski days at Niseko United in Japan.

The Epic Pass is $729 for adults and $379 for children (ages 5-12) and pays for itself in just over five days of skiing or riding. Guests can pay just $49 by April 13, 2014 to lock in the guaranteed lowest price for a season pass. The remaining amount will be due in mid-September 2014. Purchasers of an Epic Pass will receive six Buddy Tickets this spring and scenic chair lift access to its Colorado, Utah and Lake Tahoe resorts during the summer months.

Vail Resorts continues to offer the best value in the snow sports industry, with access to 28,830 skiable acres, 27,136 vertical feet, 34 terrain parks and 40 skiing bowls, as well as complimentary access to mountains across multiple continents.

“The Epic Pass continues to be an industry-changing ski pass and the best pass deal for skiers and snowboarders across the snow sports industry,” said Kirsten Lynch, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts. “There’s a reason we sell the Epic Pass in 80 countries and all 50 states. This is the one pass that lets you chase the powder at the world’s finest resorts, including Japan. This is the pass for true skiers and riders.”

Vail Resorts offers multiple pass options for the 2014-15 season:

  • The Epic Pass™: Unlimited skiing at every resort all winter for $729.Enjoy unlimited skiing or riding at 11 resorts including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Canyons in Park City, Utah; Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe; Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan.  No blackout days or restrictions apply.  New for winter 2014-15, Epic Pass purchasers will have access to five complimentary consecutive days at Niseko, Japan–known as one of the snowiest and most celebrated powder skiing resorts in the world.  At this spring rate, the Epic Pass pays for itself in just over five days.
  • The Epic 4-Day ™is optimal for guests planning one ski vacation during the 2014-15 winter season. $369 for adults and $209 for children (ages 5-12). Ski any four days at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Canyons, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton and Arapahoe Basin. This pass pays for itself in less than three days and offers a savings of up to 30 percent compared to lift tickets. And, for a little over $1,000 a family of four can ski the world’s best ski resorts whenever they choose.
  • The Epic 7-Day ™ is ideal for guests planning to ski seven days throughout the winter season. $549 for adults and $279 for children (ages 5-12).Ski or ride a total of seven unrestricted days at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Canyons in Park City, Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in Tahoe, Mt. Brighton and Afton Alps.

Vail Resorts is making it easier for guests to lock in the lowest guaranteed pass prices with a $49 down payment now and the remaining balance due in mid-September 2014. The lowest guaranteed 2014-15 season pass prices with the best benefits are available only through April 13, 2014.

Season Pass Benefits

Epic Pass and all Vail Resorts season pass holders will receive exclusive offers on lodging, dining, ski rentals, equipment, ski school and special events for the 2014-15 ski and snowboard season at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Canyons, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood, as well as Mt. Brighton, Mt. Afton and Arapahoe Basin. Six Buddy Tickets will automatically be issued to guests putting $49 down before April 13, 2014. Access to Niseko, Japan is only provided to Epic Pass holders and not holders of other passes offered by Vail Resorts (Epic 4-Day, Epic 7-Day, Epic Local Pass, Tahoe Local Pass, Summit Value Pass and Tahoe Value Pass). All season pass products are non-transferable and non-refundable.

For more information about Vail Resorts’ season passes or to purchase a pass online, visit www.epicpass.com.

See also:

A Mancation to Heavenly Mountain, Lake Tahoe

Keystone, Colorado is Perfect Destination Mountain Resort For Families and slideshow

Breckenridge Mountain Resort Is Worth The Hike

Beaver Creek: Penultimate in Rocky Mountain Skiing
 

Montbleu Casino Resort Proves Ideal for Guy Ski Getaway to South Tahoe

The Burlesque show at Montbleu Casino Resort was memorable © 2014 Eric Leiberman/news-photos-features.com

by Andrew Kessel, Eric Leiberman & Dave E. Leiberman

Heavenly Mountain Resort, on the southern shore of Lake Tahoe, proved to be ideal for our weekend ski getaway. This massive, 4800-acre ski mountain straddling Nevada and California not only affords a huge variety of terrain and the most spectacular views anywhere of Lake Tahoe’s sapphire-blue waters anywhere, but also gives you a high-octane, nonstop nightlife of casino gaming, shows, clubs and restaurants that is unparalleled among ski resorts.

It is entirely possible to ski Heavenly and have a more traditional ski holiday, with charming lodges exuding California’s famous laid-back ambiance.

And then there is the Montbleu Casino Resort & Spa. Just walking distance from the Heavenly lift, on the Nevada/California stateline, Montbleu is a unique resort experience — a split personality of the wholesome outdoors by day, and the more risque nightlife by night. The 437-room resort, which is owned by Tropicana Entertainment Inc., appeals to both the traditional gamer and the late-night club-hopper with its stylish sophistication and attractive, metro-cool atmosphere to create a complete casino-resort experience. MontBleu features distinct restaurants — including the only AAA Four Diamond restaurant in Lake Tahoe and a cafe with an eclectic menu open 24-hours  – and chic Las Vegas-style nightlife venues, a 45,000-square-foot casino, a spa, and a new poker room.

The bright lights flashed and the slot machines chimed all around us as we entered the first floor of the resort. After quickly settling into our room we made our way to the spa and pool. The après-ski hot-tub experience is the perfect complement to a hard day on the slopes. The hot tub has a three-pronged shape and mountain rock walls. For an additional fee, guests can use the spa for a private hot tub and sauna.

Later that night, we checked out Montbleu’s special Friday night seafood buffet. The all-you-can eat buffet offers a lot of options, including the popular crab legs, but the standout was the shrimp ($19.99).

What may have been the most memorable aspect about our first day is the 70-minute Burlesque show at Montbleu. “Sweet Talk,” running Fridays and Saturdays to April 5, is an electro-cirque themed burlesque show pairing electronic music and provocative performance in a surprisingly transformative and Vegas-like entertaining experience.  “Sweet Talk” features 10 multi-talented cast members from the region, including members of the Heavenly Angels, offering a variety of singing, strip dancing, hula hoops, ladder and chair acrobatics, and break dancing from the two male performers. A guest pole dancer from San Francisco brought down the house. Other surprises included the DJ doubling-down as a fire swallower. Besides an amazing sound system and the basic fact that you are seeing a burlesque show after skiing (how often can you do that?), the show appeals to both men and women and people of a diverse age range. The house was packed this holiday weekend (tickets $20).

This is not the type of ski vacation where you just sit around a fire and watch movies at the end of the day. If you are staying at a casino resort on the Nevada side, as we did, the environment feels more urban and energetic than anything else.

Casino gaming at Montbleu is an extraordinary twist on a ski trip to Heavenly Mountain © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Gambling is not for everyone but it’s hard to deny the excitement just walking around the casino floor. There’s an arcade for kids, while adults interested in gambling can find the full array of games, including the ever-popular Texas Hold’em with its own new dedicated tournament room. Tournaments and daily games are scheduled and are most frequently played with “no limit” rules so it could be easy to spend more than you planned.

Montbleu also has a section affectionately referred to as “The Pit” for more casual gamblers where you can play low stakes games like $5 blackjack and the “Ponies” for only .25 cents! At the Ponies you bet on mechanical horses and cheer on your “horses” to win along with a rambunctious and social crowd, all while being served the normal free drinks. What’s more, after 10 PM, the barely dressed, beautiful dancing ladies come out and dance on top of the bar in The Pit. This distraction must not have been without premeditation on the part of Montbleu.

Occasionally the young dancing girls give out V.I.P. passes to the Casino’s nightclub Opal.

On Saturday night, which is also Ladies Night, we checked out Opal. While the party doesn’t really get going until midnight or later, getting there earlier is a good idea because the room fills up quickly. For three guys in our 20s, choosing to come to Opal on Ladies’ Night also proved a good idea. The DJ plays a nice variety of hip-hop and current pop music. The hip ambiance even draws the locals. The Go-Go dancers from The Pit also make appearances dancing on elevated platforms and posing for salacious, public body-painting shows.

The real challenge of both Opal and The Pit was knowing we wanted to ski the next morning and the later we stayed out, the more difficult it was going to be to get first tracks the next day. In the end however, getting first chair proved less alluring than playing the ponies in The Pit until the break of dawn.

We took advantage of the many dining options at Montbleu Resort, as well. Cafe del Sol, for instance, featured great $1 tacos and margaritas in the après ski happy hours.

Ciera Steakhouse, Montbleu’s upscale dining option, treated us to a memorable meal we won’t forget anytime soon. The ambiance is elegant and there’s a good variety of food for all pallets. We tried delicious and creamy lobster bisque to start off. The cream of spinach, while a touch salty, was good and the scalloped cheddar potatoes had a strong and pleasant flavor. We also tried the truffle macaronie-and-cheese, which met expectations. We shared three main courses including the shrimp and clam fettuccini scampi, free-range Mediterranean chicken (our favorite), and a giant 24 oz. Porterhouse steak, all served on beautiful, long and narrow plates. Since it was Valentine’s Day, they added extra chocolate-covered strawberries gratis, presented over steaming dry ice for a beautiful and dazzling effect. Indeed, the experience at the steakhouse overall was fantastic and we received excellent service.

We flew thousands of miles collectively for a taste of the great Tahoe ski life we had heard so much about. From NYC, Atlanta, and San Francisco, we could have picked somewhere more centrally located. But it sure exceeded our expectations, offering great skiing, picturesque views, and a wild nightlife. We’re already beginning to plan our next trip out to Tahoe with a bunch more of our friends.

Check Montbleu’s website for specials and a chance to win a winter ski getaway.

MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa, 55 Highway 50 Lake Tahoe, Nevada 89449, 888-829-7630, www.montbleuresort.com.

See also:

A Mancation to Heavenly Mountain, Lake Tahoe

____________________

© 2014 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin, www.examiner.com/eclectic-traveler-in-long-island/karen-rubin, www.examiner.com/international-travel-in-national/karen-rubin and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures.

A Mancation to Heavenly Mountain, Lake Tahoe

Skiing Heavenly affords a spectacular view of Lake Tahoe © 2014 D Leiberman/news-photos-features.com

by Andrew Kessel, Eric Leiberman & Dave E. Leiberman

We are three buddies who met at summer camp as kids and have continued our friendship through the years. Two of us ski and one of us boards and we all love the mountain. Living in different cities, moving to different corners of the U.S. through our careers, we’ve found ski mountains to be ideal reunion spots. This year, we set out for Heavenly Mountain, on the south shore of Lake Tahoe.

There are many superlatives that could describe Heavenly. At 10,067′ elevation, Heavenly is the highest resort in the Lake Tahoe area. The five-mile trail from the summit is the longest on the West Coast and the 3,500′-vertical is also unmatched. In a normal ski season, the 30 lifts, 97 runs and 4,800 acres spanning two states offer an incredible amount of choice and variety for skiers of all levels, with 20% of the trails suited to beginners, 45% for intermediates (Heavenly is literally blue-trail heaven), and 35% for expert/advanced skiers. There is also tree skiing where some of the undiscovered powder lies.

Heavenly is set amidst the El Dorado National Forest and the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest—600,000 acres of open space. Being able to take trails that cross between two mountains and two states was a unique experience for us. In all, there are 29 lifts (15 in California and 14 in Nevada). We could easily appreciate why Heavenly is one of the most popular West Coast ski resorts and was named “Best Ski Destination” for 2014 by USA Today Readers.

Andrew makes his way down the moguls at Heavenly Mountain © 2014 D Leiberman/news-photos-features.com

We spent much of our first ski day at Heavenly Mountain on the California side, racing down High Five off of Canyon Express and descending into South Lake Tahoe. We also took a few relaxing runs down the green circle trail Maggie’s and challenged ourselves to the black diamond, mogul-filled Waterfall. This was Picabo Street Day.

Day Two was Tough Conditions Day. We ventured over to the Nevada side after hearing that there was more variety and challenge to the trails. The Nevada side was usually windier and on this day the wind was blowing so hard you could feel yourself being pushed uncontrollably as hard snowy pellets hit the face. Many of the harder trails were made more challenging because of an unusual lack of snow. (Heavenly averages 360 inches of snowfall at the summit, 125 inches at lake level, and has snowmaking covering 73% of the mountain trails; it also typically gets 300 days of sunshine.)

Andrew skis through the trees at Heavenly Mountain © 2014 D Leiberman/news-photos-features.com

As the day went on, trails and lifts were shut down one by one as conditions became more adverse. We heard good things about the runs off of Dipper and Comet but unfortunately arrived too late to try them. We enjoyed a more protected, easier run on Boulder Bowl before deciding to finish the day back on the California side. This is the reality of any ski vacation and luckily at Heavenly the diversity of choices can help mitigate difficult conditions.

Sunday brought the blessing of Blue Bird Powder Day. After a few inches of fresh snow overnight, we experienced Heavenly’s famous brilliant sunshine; skiers and boarders ditched their jackets for spring-like tee-shirt riding.

Coming upon the carved bear on Heavenly Mountain. Finely carved statues continued greeting us as we made our way through the un-skied powder in these majestic woods © 2014 Eric Leiberman/news-photos-features.com

We encountered the wooden carved statues in the woods off the Powderbowl run on Heavenly Mountain’s California side. First, a beautiful snowy eagle appeared. Next, a snow covered bear peaked out from behind his cover. The finely carved statues continued greeting us as we made our way through the un-skied powder in these majestic woods. Towards the end of the woods below we saw blue water in a multitude of shades. This, of course, was the expansive and gorgeous Lake Tahoe thousands of feet below us.

At around 1 pm, halfway up the mountain, we discovered Steins. Steins is like a Nashville hangout at 8,070 ft. above sea level: picnic tables, cold beer, various types of sausage, cornhole, and sunshine. There are chairs for snoozing.

One of our favorite parts of Heavenly was the dedicated lift for the terrain park at Groove Park. The park includes many features accessible for a wide range of skill levels. The lines were also surprisingly small considering it was a Holiday weekend. The environment is serene, tranquil, and bucolic. There are designated rest stop areas for beginners, and skiers of all levels are consistently treated to amazing views of Lake Tahoe near the base of the mountain. There is an extra fee to ski the slalom track ($6) at the Epic Mix Race Center on the California side.

Filling your stomach before, during or after skiing is easy at Heavenly. Besides on-mountain spots like the Sky Deck Burger Bar or Steins, which offer a plethora of options including brats, chili bowls, beer, and chicken corn chowder, there are plenty of restaurant options. Each of the base lodges offers a unique variety of cuisine. Stagecoach has meatball subs, Boulder offers diner fare, East Peak has Pizza and BBQ, Tamarack is known for their pulled pork and turkey, and Booyah’s supplies great microbrews with great views for the après-ski.

And if you want to break away from skiing or riding the mountain, you can do tubing, sledding and ski biking from the on-mountain Adventure Peak.

One-of-a-Kind DJ Cat

The dual personalities of Heavenly—a snowy wonderland on the mountain and a pulsing hotspot in the town—come together in a new program introduced this season: DJ Cat.

Partnering with Aaron Hagar, son of legendary musician Sammy Hagar and owner of Rat Runners Garage, Heavenly has retrofit a retired grooming machine and overhauled it into a state-of-the-art mobile DJ station.

“There is a reason we’ve been dubbed as the wild child of Vail Resorts. At Heavenly, we like to push the limits and do things a little different,” said Pete Sonntag, vice president and chief operating officer of Heavenly. “Teaming up with someone as creative as Aaron was a special treat, and we are absolutely blown away by what we were able to accomplish together between our teams. The end result will definitely surprise and delight people.”

Complete with a high-tech DJ platform and a Kicker Audio speaker system that rivals anything seen at a nightclub, Heavenly’s DJ cat is the first of its kind and like nothing else in the industry. Custom-built components provide premium sound through about 52 speakers and 12,000 watts of QSC brand amps. Three remote-controlled actuators open the doors and roof of the lightweight aluminum unit and a 55 inch flatscreen television enhances the visual experience.

Throughout the season, guest DJs will spin tunes on the DJ cat.

The party shifts indoors at 3:30 p.m. as the Heavenly Angels host Unbuckle at Tamarack, North America’s No. 1 après ski party. With half-price drinks, food specials, swag, a live DJ and lots of dancing, Unbuckle is a great transition to a night out in South Lake Tahoe.

Heavenly’s events exude high energy. On April 5, 2014, the second annual High Roller Hold ‘Em event will take place on the World Cup run. Infusing an X Games-worthy big air competition with a little South Lake Tahoe casino gambling twist, High Roller Hold ’Em features a monster big-air jump, a $50,000 jackpot and, new this year, a 2015 X Games Big Air event exemption for the overall winner.

It is one of the few ski areas where you may well time your visit so you can ski and golf on the same day.

Heavenly Summer

After the ski lifts close (on April 20 this year), Heavenly Mountain Resort offers a different sort of outdoor wonderland in summer. The mountain is open Friday-Sunday for sightseeing, dining and hiking from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

The Heavenly gondola © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Heavenly Gondola: You can ride on the Heavenly Gondola and take a day in Tahoe in any season. You board the gondola from the Heavenly Village and soar 2.4 miles up the mountain to 9,123 feet, nearly 3,000 feet above the lake. The ride itself offers unparalleled views of the Desolation Wilderness, Carson Valley and, of course, the sparkling waters of Lake Tahoe.

The Observation Deck: Two-thirds of the way up the mountainside, the Observation Deck offers the best sightseeing venue on the South Shore. Skirting massive granite boulders, the 14,000 square-foot deck provides high-powered viewing telescopes that give you a close-up look at some of the destination’s best-known landmarks including Emerald Bay, Mount Tallac and Cascade Falls.

Café Blue: The resort’s only year-round mountaintop bistro is located on The Deck. Café Blue is a casual al fresco eatery with an alpine flair, offering gourmet snacks such as antipasto platters, shrimp cocktails, specialty sandwiches and an impressive selection of fine regional wines.

Tamarack Lodge and Bar: Heavenly’s new restaurant has rustic chandeliers, floor to ceiling windows and seating for 500 inside and 250 outside on the patio. Signature menu items include tri-tip from the smoker, artisanal pizzas and a salad bar.

Adventure Peak: Located at the top of the Gondola, Adventure Peak offers two distinct high-altitude outdoor experiences in the winter and summer months. During the summer months, Adventure Peak offers hiking on three routes ranging from 16 miles to four miles roundtrip; summer tubing; a 25-foot climbing wall; a Spyder Climber; and, new for summer 2014, ropes courses, Aerial Tour, and zip lines.

There are also boat rides on Lake Tahoe, and golf.

Easy Access to Tahoe South

Recently named one of the “Best Airports for Skiers” by SKI Magazine, Reno Tahoe International Airport has also added a number of new flights including Houston, Portland and other key gateway air cities. RTIA provides easy and convenient access to Tahoe South with the six-lane, 65-mile-per-hour I-580 freeway bypassing Pleasant Valley and Washoe Valley. The 8.5-mile divided freeway features new anti-icing technology. Daily shuttle service is available via South Tahoe Express.

With direct daily shuttle service to Reno and even Sacramento (Amtrak also runs from San Francisco and there are several other bus options) you may be able to skip the car rental and still have great easy-access skiing and après-ski fun with little to no inconvenience. Within a certain proximity to Heavenly Village you may even be able to jump right on the Gondola to Tamarack Lodge on the mountain.

From New York City, Atlanta, and San Francisco, South Tahoe proved a meeting spot that not only worked, but exceeded our expectations. It was an ideal reunion site for two brothers and a childhood friend.

Ski Heavenly, 800-HEAVENLY, www.skiheavenly.com, info@vailresorts.com.

See also:

Montbleu Casino Resort Proves Ideal for Guy Ski Getaway to South Tahoe

Vail Resorts’ 2014-15 Epic Pass Now on Sale

____________________

© 2014 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin, www.examiner.com/eclectic-traveler-in-long-island/karen-rubin, www.examiner.com/international-travel-in-national/karen-rubin and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures.