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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Australian skiers rejoice - Niseko, Japan is now on the one Epic Pass

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Ski and ride the best of the world on the one Epic Pass; now including access to world-renowned Niseko Resort offering ease of access for Australians

2014-2015 Epic Pass holders receive five free days at Niseko, Japan, as well as unlimited, unrestricted skiing in Colorado, Utah, and Tahoe, on the Epic Pass

The Epic Pass pays for itself in just over five days of skiing or riding – and will be available for purchase beginning March 10, 2014, at epicpass.com and via preferred travel partners across Australia

 Vail Resorts, Inc. (NYSE: MTN) has announced an epic partnership with one of the snowiest and most celebrated powder skiing resorts in the world—Niseko, Japan.

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 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 in the best resorts in the U.S.; as well as addition complimentary access 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, overall incredible guest experience and ease of access for Australians; some of our most loyal pass holders. Epic Pass holders now have access to the epic skiing and riding for which Japan is world-renowned" said Kirsten Lynch, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts. "It's no wonder that we have Epic Pass holders in 80 countries around the world, including many in Australia given that the pass pays itself off in so few days. They enjoy an incredible resort experience and unmatched value, with unlimited, unrestricted access to Vail Resorts' 10 ski resorts, including 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."

"We couldn't be more thrilled about our partnership with Vail Resorts, as the pre-eminent mountain resort company in the U.S.," said 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."

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. It's no wonder, given that the resort boasts an average jaw-dropping 590 inches (15m) of snow per year. 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 powder 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 United, as its commonly referred to, is made up of four base areas—Annupurri, Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village and Hanazono—that access one mountain, Niseko Annupuri. 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'.    

Non-stop flight service is available between all major Australian cities and Tokyo, with connecting flights onwards to Sapporo. A two hour time difference between East Coast Australia and Niseko and proximity to Australia makes for an even more compelling reason for our loyal pass holders to enjoy a ski or ride holiday in Japan, in addition to Vail Resorts eight world-class resorts. 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. The Epic Pass will be available for purchase on March 10, 2014, at www.epicpass.com, as well as through Vail Resorts' preferred travel partners across Australia, found at www.snowusa.com.

Vail Resorts also offers other pass options for guests next winter:

The Epic Local Pass™ is perfect for guests who can navigate a pass with a few more restrictions on their winter vacation. The Epic Local Pass offers unlimited and unrestricted skiing or riding at Breckenridge, Keystone, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton and Arapahoe Basin, with limited restrictions at Canyons, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood. Also includes a total of 10 days at Vail and Beaver Creek with US holiday restrictions. At the spring rate, the Epic Local Pass pays for itself in just over four days.

The Epic 7-Day ™ is ideal for guests who only plan to ski seven days throughout the winter season. It features seven unrestricted days of skiing and riding 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.

For more information, visit http://www.epicpass.com. Passes will be available for purchase beginning March 10, 2014, as well as through Vail Resorts preferred travel partners across Australia.

For more information about Niseko, and to book, visit http://www.niseko.ne.jp/.

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