“We’re going to get out of that [day ticket] business. The day-skier model doesn’t work for Homewood just like it isn’t working for a lot of small ski areas across the country, and so we’ve had to come up with a new model to sustain Homewood.”– Art Chapman, President of JMA Ventures (Owner of Homewood Mountain Resort).
Many independent ski areas have seen recent success due to the resurgence in the popularity of skiing and snowboarding during the pandemic. This surge in popularity has caused significant traffic, which has hurt a few Lake Tahoe ski resorts. The Tahoe Daily Tribune reports Homewood will be getting rid of selling day passes in the next few years and will be shifting to a semi-private, members-only model. This follows an article from Moonshine Ink in March that reported on Homewood’s plans to switch to a semi-private model.
Their main reasoning has been the rapid decline in day ticket sales, which has been caused due to guests not being able to access the resort on peak days because of the notorious Lake Tahoe traffic. The road to Homewood is stuffed with drivers who are trying to get to Palisades Tahoe and Northstar. This has caused a 40% decrease in skier traffic and season pass sales in the past ten years. On their busiest days, the mountain is only seeing 1000 skiers, while some days have only seen 115 people on the mountain(which includes seven employees). Some minor changes will occur to the passholder program for the 2023-24 season, and major changes will occur for the 2024-25 season.
JMA Ventures, which has owned Homewood since 2006, is hoping the members-only model will help give them the capital to pour money into the mountain. $15 million will be spent to replace two major lifts. In 2023, they are hoping to replace the Madden chair with a gondola. In the following years, a high-speed quad chairlift will replace the Ellis chair. Some of their other development plans include a small boutique hotel, 185 homes, a new base lodge, a new mid-mountain lodge, adding new hiking and mountain biking trails, and building a small grocery store(which will be open to the public). Seven housing units will begin to be built at the North Base this summer as part of their first phase of construction. The big question is whether the 1800 passholders who are currently committed to the resort will still have access to the mountain once it’s a members-only club. Chapman said that membership is open to all, but I imagine the price point is going to make many people dumbfounded. Season passes will continue to remain open for the nearby West Shore HOA communities, but they have stated that prices will increase once more amenities are added. If they don’t make sure that locals who have supported the mountain have a chance to become part of Homewood for a reasonable price, then it ruins the ski resort’s reputation in the community. Luckily, Chapman is saying that they are flexible with the details, so they should make sure each and every one of their passholders aren’t shafted by this new model. Art Chapman said the following about locals’ concerns:
“Our intent is not to shut the public out. Since we know most skier attendance is from the local community, we intend to work with the HOAs to ensure that a certain number of residents can get passes to ski. We are going into this with rigid rules but trying to create a hybrid model that works, that allows us to keep Homewood going. For people who come up for one or two days, we are not going to be doing that anymore.”Image Credits: Homewood Mountain Resort