Vail’s ski season starts Friday
Ryan Summerlin November 17, 2011
VAIL, Colorado – The word “new” has become almost synonymous with Vail – there’s new lodging, new restaurants, new residences, new events, and this season, Vail Mountain is offering more new products, as well.Last season the newest and shiniest product was a replaced Chair 5. This season, Vail Mountain is opening an upscale casual restaurant at near Mid-Vail and the resort is kicking off a company-wide technology upgrade with Epic Mix.Offering a new product is the only way to go in this day and age, Vail Resorts officials have said. The company wants to keep reinventing to stay ahead of the curve, as evidenced by tens of million of dollars in investments at its Colorado and Lake Tahoe-area resorts each year.
Vail’s new Mid-Vail restaurant, The 10th, was named in honor of the 10th Mountain Division, the famed U.S. Army unit that trained between Vail and Leadville and included several of Vail’s founders.The restaurant is a sit-down restaurant with table service, a void that Vail Mountain Chief Operating Officer Chris Jarnot said needed to be filled. Because many skiers and snowboarders begin their day on the west side of the mountain and work their way east, Jarnot said when he announced the plans for the restaurant last year that a sit-down restaurant on the eastern side of the mountain was missing.While the self-service restaurants and Mid-Vail and Two Elk are more than adequate for many of Vail’s customers, there are customers who want more.At The 10th, skiers and snowboaders can take their boots off, sit down, order from a menu and have someone wait on them. The concept fits in perfectly with the target market Vail continuously tries to attract – high-end, destination guests.The 10th has sweeping views of the Gore Range through its massive windows. Up to 160 people can gaze out at the views from inside, and there’s another 80 seats spread out between the lounge and the south-facing deck. The restaurant is scheduled to open Dec. 1.
Vail Resorts announced its Epic Mix mobile application last season and the technology picked up steam as skiers and riders used it for everything from bragging rights to tracking statistics like vertical feet. The technology uses the RF technology embedded in ski passes – which even includes day tickets this season – to scan skiers as they travel around the mountain. Once enabled, skiers can log on to their Epic Mix account online to see everything from which lifts they rode that day to how many vertical feet they covered. This season, Vail Resorts announced it was taking Epic Mix even further by adding a photo component. The company hired about 200 photographers for its six ski resorts who will take pictures of skiers and snowboarders, scan their passes and upload those pictures to Epic Mix accounts.The service is free, and users can also buy a high resolution version for about $20.Users can also link Epic Mix to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, including the new photo feature.When Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz announced the new Epic Mix addition at a Denver event in August, he said Epic Mix already has a huge amount of engagement compared to similar mobile applications.But the company felt it could still make Epic Mix better and take its photography business into the 21st century.”Photo sharing is the fastest growing area in social media,” Katz said. “We want people to take these photos and show them to other people.”The showing and telling is what Vail Resorts gets out of Epic Mix, while users might get something else out of it. For Vail Resorts, it’s free marketing at its best. When people brag about a powder day and show a powder picture to 500 of their Facebook friends, that kind of marketing is priceless.A camera feature within the Epic Mix application will allow users to snap photos themselves that will also automatically upload to Epic Mix accounts.All of the pins and photos from each ski day will also be put into one snapshot, like a collage, for Epic Mix users to post and share.