Catskill region resorts team for discount skiing

By Jay Braman Jr.
Ulster County Executive Mike Hein has announced that the operators of five ski resorts he convened for a collaboration promoting skiing in the Catskills, have decided to build upon prior success with a new, expanded promotion for the upcoming season.
“Save money,” “save time,” and “five-stop shop the Catskills” are the themes of the newest region-wide product released by five winter resorts in the Catskills region: Holiday Mountain, Hunter Mountain, Plattekill, Wind-ham Mountain and Belleayre Mountain. The Catskill Association for Tourism Services, in collaboration with the five resorts, has launched a new CATS Card offering skiers and riders 20 percent off lift tickets throughout the upcoming season.
The CATS Card, which costs $25, can be used an unlimited number of times at any and all of the five resorts to purchase full-day tickets for adults, seniors and children alike. The card will become available for purchase on December 1 via www.MyCatsCard.com or by calling 800-NYS-CATS (1-800-697-2287). The CATS Card, which will be personalized, is to be presented with photo identification at the ski areas in order to purchase tickets at the discounted rate. The card is not valid on holidays, cannot be combined with other offers and is nontransferable.
Representatives from the resorts attended a meeting in February along with government and economic development leaders at the invitation of Hein, who said Thursday that he saw a need to put aside competitive differences and act regionally to divert metropolitan New York skiers away from Vermont slopes and to the Catskills. As a result of that gathering a billboard campaign aimed squarely at sending skiers to the Catskills was launched.
Prior to the meeting the private sector resorts were complaining that Belleayre had an unfair advantage by using taxpayer money to run the operation and offer low ticket prices.
“We were told it was impossible to bring the public and private sectors together across county lines, but we never accepted that. I’m delighted that the original effort was successful and that this new initiative is moving forward,” said Hein.
“Working together as a region is essential if we hope to gain market share over Vermont and other destinations,” said Belleayre Mountain’s Superintendent, Tony Lanza. “I applaud County Executive Hein’s efforts in persuading all of the interested parties to join forces.”

Updated concept
The new promotion is an updated version of the former Ski The Catskills Lift Off Card (originally the Sampler Card). Offered for more than 20 years by the region’s resorts, the discount card offered reduced price skiing at each mountain. The card eventually lost its appeal when the individual mountains began competing against it with their own cards.
Ski The Catskills was a regional promotional organization established in 1988. The organization eventually suffered from a lack of support from several major mountains that abandoned the regional concept.
“The Catskills’ ski resorts offer something for everyone, from terrain to services and amenities,” said Brian Czarnecki, director of sales and marketing for Hunter Mountain. “We are the closest ski region to skiers and riders traveling from the New York metro area and the greater Tri-State Area. The CATS card will offer added incentive to explore the winter resorts of the Catskills, the natural splendor of the landscape and the charm of the towns.”
“The region has seen a steep increase in the number of guests who have turned their long treks to New England resorts into short drives to the Catskills,” explained Kirt Zimmer, director of sales and marketing at Windham Mountain. “We hope the CATS card not only allows our customers to explore the region in depth, but also attracts new people who will discover that endless winter opportunity is right up the Thruway.”
CATS is the regional destination marketing association comprised of the tourism promotion agencies in Delaware, Greene, Sullivan and Ulster counties.