Living at the base of the Wasatch Range, I don't travel very much for skiing. Skiing is costly, and my academic calendar means the only time I can get a full week off is either prior to Christmas when the snowpack is meager, during the holidays when everything is expensive or crowded, or during spring break, which can sometimes be quite warm.
This past season, however, I got the big crow bar out and cracked open the wallet to purchase Mountain Collective passes for my son and I. Given my advanced age, I also bought the optional insurance, raising the price to $449 each. After a season of skiing (with some potential we will still travel to a couple more resorts), here are my perspectives.
I have no prior experience with multi-resort passes. I suppose I could have sprung for an Epic Pass or a M.A.X. Pass, but the mountain collective includes many iconic resorts, several of which have great snow and terrain.
For someone based in Salt Lake, there were 5 resorts last season within a 7 hour drive including Alta/Snowbird, Jackson Hole, Sun Valley, Telluride, and the Aspen/Snowmass. We skied them all, totaling 10 days, for an average cost of $45/day. For the 2016/17 season, we only got two days total at Alta/Snowbird, but it my understanding that in 2017/18, there will be 2 days at each resort. In addition, Snowbasin has joined in for a total of 6 days at Salt Lake area resorts. Plus you can add a third day at a mountain of your choice. That makes the Mountain Collective even more attractive for a Salt Lake skier.
If you already have a pass a Mountain Collective Resort, you can get unlimited 50% off day tickets at other Mountain Collective Resorts, but keep in mind those half-price tickets can be costly given the exorbitant prices many resorts charge for a day pass. Perhaps someone can comment if there is a discount on the Mountain Collective Pass if you have a pass at one of the resorts.
As far as the skiing goes, you can't go wrong with Alta/Snowbird and Jackson Hole and we had a great time at each. Sun Valley doesn't typically get a lot of snow, but it did this year. It's not a great mountain if you are looking for hard-core terrain, but a weekend of cruising its long fall lines was fun. Telluride does have some hard-core hike-to terrain, but it was scoured to nothing by the time we went there for spring break. As such, a day of cruising there was enough, but we skied two anyway. We enjoyed skiing Aspen Mountain for a day while also catching the Men's and Women's Super-G. The next day we skied Highlands and Snowmass, racking up huge vertical. I had never skied any of the Aspen area resorts, so that was fun, but I don't consider a return to be essential. Our general perspective is that even in a good year, it doesn't snow enough in Colorado. The phrase, "where's the snow" was uttered frequently.
Given that I was going to Japan for work, I also got 2 free days in the Hakuba Valley. That worked out well for our multi-day stay since we only wanted to ride lifts a couple of days and wanted to ski tour and sightsee the rest of thetime.
We haven't skied Squaw Valley or Mammoth yet, but continue to keep that as an option as summer approaches. There's also Taos, Revelstoke, and Lake Louise, but the distance involved was too far for us this year.
The cost per day for skiing if you can get a couple of days of skiing at at least four destinations is quite reasonable, but unless you are a true dirt bag, you're going to need to pay for lodging. There are discounts through the Mountain Collective, but the options are still costly. Although we had a cheap option in Jackson, we stayed in Hailey for Sun Valley, Ridgeway for Telluride (1 hour each way), and Carbondale for Aspen to keep costs down.
At each resort, you have to go to their season pass office and get a new pass. We get to the resorts early enough not to have to wait in line, but it is a pain to have to do this everywhere. In Hakuba, I had to get my passes at the bus station, but fortunately knew that was the case before showing up at the ticket office.
You get 2 days for the destination, not each resort. For example, in Aspen, you get 2 days total at all four of their mountains (including Buttermilk), not 2 days at each mountain. That being said, two days skiing Aspen/Snowmass was enough for me...
I found the Mountain Collective to be a great option for us this year. I think having 2 days each at Alta, Snowbird, and Snowbasin will make it even more so next year, especially with Jackson Hole within easy striking distance. Remember that a third day can be added at one of these resorts.
The pass is especially attractive if you want to also do a road trip to California, Colorado, or Canada and ski at a couple of their resorts.