Resort leaders offer preview of new goodies at annual resort COO breakfast
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Ski resort leaders from Summit County and nearby Loveland said they’re waiting for some snow along with eager skiers around Colorado, but hinted that the season will be under way soon.
“We’re really close,” said A-Basin chief Alan Henceroth, addressing a big crowd of local business leaders at the annual pre-season pep talk.
A-Basin, Loveland, Copper and Keystone have all been making snow the last few nights, and Copper is far enough along that ski teams will begin training this weekend high on the mountain, the resort announced yesterday.
With colder weather and some natural snow in the forecast, best estimates are that A-Basin and Loveland should be able to open next week, and Keystone has a scheduled opening date of Nov. 5.
This year’s breakfast session was hosted by the Breckenridge Resort Chamber and co-sponsored by the Summit County Chamber of Commerce and started off with a wide-angle look at reservation and skier number trends by Ralf Garrison. Garrison said that, based on numbers reported to his Mountain Travel Research Project, the ski industry outperformed many other segments of the travel and tourism industry during the recession of the past two years.
“Less bad is the new good,” Garrison said, explaining that the big hit came two seasons ago, when occupancy dropped 15 percent, while rates dropped 9 percent. The 2009-2010 season saw a slight recovery in occupancy, but rates stayed low. Skier visits nationally also rebounded by about 4 percent from the previous season, he said, explaining that the industry’s performance is driven by the passion of snowsport enthusiasts, who will find a way to make it to the slopes even when times are tough.
Garrison said the comeback continued this past summer season, especially in September, when occupancy for the first time climbed above pre-recession levels.
Ski area leaders gave brief updates on new developments at the individual resorts. Loveland Rob Goodell said he’s been working with the Forest Service to expand gladed skiing, while Henceroth focused on the construction of A-Basin’s new high-speed quad, the Black Mountain Express, which will help ease congestion at the base.
Keystone’s John Buhler said his area has revamped the summit of Dercum mountain, with new way-finding to help direct skiers to the appropriate areas from the busy junction. He also said the venerable Summit House has been spruced up inside, and that the resort is adding some new terrain for kids. Also new at Keystone is a village to village shuttle, and Buhler said the resort hopes to live up to its family friendly and affordable reputation with a $5 lunch special at on-mountain restaurants.
Copper Mountain is working with the U.S. Forest Service on a master plan update that should highlight the resort’s new focus on skiing, according to Gary Rodgers. Previous owner Intrawest leaned toward real estate development, but Powdr Corp, the family run company that bought Copper 10 months ago is dedicated to improving the on-snow experience, Rodgers said.
Rodgers said once the draft plan has been submitted to the Forest Service, the resort will open up a public discussion on the plan, inviting community stakeholders to comment.
Breckenridge Ski Resort’s Pat Campbell said completion of One Ski Hill Place, the new condo-hotel at the base of Peak 8, marks a big milestone for the ski area, inviting Bergenhof fans to try out the new bar and restaurant at the new base area lodge. Campbell also said the resort will be opening its new alpine coaster Nov. 12 for year-round operation.
Filed under: Arapahoe Basin, ski industry, Ski Resorts, Summit County Colorado Tagged: | Annual COO breakfast, Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge ski resort, Copper Mountain, skiing and riding, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News, Summit County ski areas, Summit County skiing