The following observations about the Aspen and Snowmass 2013 winter season come from a winter visitor of the past 25 years. First “bouquets,” then “brickbats.”
Bouquets to SkiCo for making the best of a bad snow season and especially during a week with some of the coldest weather on record. SkiCo’s personnel selection is astonishingly good from my observation, particularly the folk who man the Snowmass gondola — ever cheerful, friendly and helpful. SkiCo’s snow groomers are doing a “loaves and fishes” job, working with so little and achieving the near impossible — groomed runs. The groomed runs are less than ideal but to have them at all in the circumstances requires exceptional skill and expertise.
Bouquets to ski instructors. My daughter and grandchildren have just returned to Australia after a 15 day visit and had a multiplicity of instructors in ski school and the woman’s edge program. Their skiing and snowboarding skills radically improved despite less than ideal snow conditions and some frigid weather days.
Bouquets to bus drivers, on shuttles and RAFTA. Invariably pleasant, friendly and helpful.
Now brickbats. Skiing is a competitive industry and there are other resorts competing for the same visitor dollar. Following are some factors to take into account:
• The very high price for on-mountain hot beverages — how much does a tea bag really cost?
• Airfares from Sydney to Aspen are astonishingly high during the month of January when Australian school children have their long summer holiday. The cheapest we could get for our grandchildren, aged 12 and 14, was around $3,400. Outside of school holidays fares are about half of that.
• We were unable to buy equipment rental/ski tuition/lift-pass packages for our grandchildren from SkiCo. We had to buy lessons, equipment hire and passes item by item, like buying an air ticket sector by sector, instead of point to point.
• Does anyone in SkiCo marketing do their sums and calculate what it costs to bring children on a ski vacation? I know bringing our family here this year, hiring the gear, buying the lift passes and paying for ski school almost broke the bank. I understand many Aussies are opting to ski Canada this year. When setting prices, suppliers should consider the affordability factor. Having a great product to sell is one thing, but pricing it out of the reach of most potential buyers is another — how many of us can afford $500-plus for a half-day private ski lesson, much as we would like to have one?
Snowmass Village and Sydney, Australia