Vail Resorts executive Garnsey set to retire |

Vail Resorts executive Garnsey set to retire

VAIL — John Garnsey helped lead the drive for the 1989 World Alpine Ski Championships. After the 2015 championships, he'll cut back his schedule a bit. Garnsey on Thursday announced his retirement from his current job as Vail Resorts president of global mountain development, effective May 1, 2015. In the 1980s, Garnsey was a vice president at the Vail Valley Foundation. As director of the Vail Valley Foundation, Garnsey was a key member of the team that brought the 1999 championships to the Vail Valley. These days, Garnsey is a member of the 2015 organizing committee. "It's been a great run — a wonderful experience," Garnsey said. In a release announcing the retirement, Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz praised Garnsey: "It is with a heavy heart that I announce John's retirement from full-time activities with our company," Katz wrote. "John has not only been an integral part of the success of Vail Resorts, but he has also contributed so much to the entire Vail Valley community and to the sport of skiing. He has played an instrumental role in bringing the world to Vail and Beaver Creek with three World Alpine Ski Championships, in developing the guest experience and reputation at Beaver Creek to the incredibly high levels it enjoys today and to helping the company see through to fruition our new urban ski areas strategy and international partnerships, among so many other notable accomplishments. It is only fitting for John to retire after the 2015 championships, as it is a perfect crowning achievement for his career. On behalf of the board of directors and employees of Vail Resorts, I want to express our deepest appreciation for his many contributions, and while John will be missed by all in his day-to-day activities for the company, he will remain very involved with the sport of skiing and our entire community as we chart the course for our collective future." Garnsey began his career in the ski industry as a ski patroller at Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, in the 1970s. He headed west in 1974 and joined the race department and trails crew at Vail Mountain. In 1984, he joined the Vail Valley Foundation as vice president and went on to become president from 1991-1999. After the 1999 Vail/Beaver Creek World Alpine Ski Championships, he joined Vail Resorts as senior vice president and chief operating officer of Beaver Creek Resort and became executive vice president in January 2008. In September 2008, he was appointed president of global mountain development for the company. There's a lot of work remaining before the 2015 championships, so Garnsey isn't really looking that far ahead yet. Still, he said he hopes to slow down a bit. "I hope to do more fishing, more skiing, spend more time with my wife," he said. But, he added, he's not ready for the rocking chair just yet. "I hope there'll be some special projects to work on in the future," he said. Garnsey serves on the Board of Directors of the National Ski Areas Association, the Vail Valley Foundation, The Vilar Center Foundation, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Foundation, and he was inducted into the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum Hall of Fame in 2011. In 2012, he received the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association's Julius Blegen Award for lifetime service to the sport.

Vail Resorts’ Garnsey earns spot in hall of fame

VAIL, Colorado – John Garnsey knew he’d been nominated for the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame, but didn’t think much about it until he got word a few days ago that he’s one of the five people to be inducted this year.”It was a big surprise,” Garnsey said.On the other hand, if you’ve had a hand in bringing three World Alpine Ski Championships to Vail, as Garnsey has, there’s a good chance someone will notice.Garnsey, who isn’t particularly comfortable talking about himself, said he hadn’t told anyone but his wife about his hall of fame selection, although he’d had a few congratulatory emails from co-workers.”You think of the poeple in there now, and it’s hard to compare yourself to those people,” Garnsey said. “There’s a lot of real leaders in the industry there.” But looking at Garnsey’s career, it’s easy to put him in the “industry leader” category.According to information sent out by the hall of fame, Garnsey’s career in the ski industry started at the Waterville Valley Ski Resort in New Hampshire in the early 1970s.He came to Vail in 1974, and was responsible for various mountain operations on Vail Mountain and at Beaver Creek Resort. Garnsey moved to the Vail Valley Foundation as vice president in the 1980s, and in 1985, was named senior vice president for the 1989 World Alpine Ski Championships in Vail. As president of the organizing committee, Garnsey headed the successful campaign to bring the World Championships back to the Vail Valley in 1999. Garnsey became president of the Vail Valley Foundation in 1991, and led the effort to bring the 1994 World Mountain Bike Championships to Vail. In May of 1999, Garnsey was named executive vice president and chief operating officer of Beaver Creek Resort. While there, the resort earned five consecutive Best Overall Guest Service awards from the National Ski Areas Association. The resort also earned nine consecutive safety honors from National Ski Areas Association on Garnsey’s watch, including Best Overall Safety recognition over three seasons. Garnsey was named co-president of Vail Resorts in 2008, overseeing both Vail and Beaver Creek. He also co-chaired the committee that secured the winning bid to bring the World Alpine Ski Championships to Vail and Beaver Creek for a third time in 2015. Garnsey is a former member of the International Ski Federation, and has served on the boards of the National Ski Areas Association, the Vail Valley Foundation, Ski Club Vail, the Vilar Performing Arts Center, and the Beaver Creek Resort Company.The rest of this year’s inductees are:• Chris Klug. A snowboard racer, Klug has won several World Cup, Grand Prix, National, and U.S. Open titles. Klug competed in snowboarding’s first appearance in the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan in 1998. As he raced at Nagano, few knew Klug had contracted a rare liver disease in the early ’90s, and was on the transplant waiting list in Colorado. After successful transplant surgery in July 2000 Chris reported that he felt “1,000 percent better immediately – it was like a new engine was dropped in, and a V-8 at that,” he said. Klug was named to the US Olympic Team again in 2002, and won a bronze medal at Park City. He is the only organ transplant recipient to ever compete in the Winter Olympics. Klug ended his racing career at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010. Living in Aspen with his wife Missy, Klug has devoted his “retirement” to spreading the message of organ donor awareness. • Ron Allred. Telluride collapsed in 1978 when the 100-year-old mining industry closed its doors. Literally the next day, Allred started an effort to create a new economy based on Telluride becoming a year ’round mountain resort.• Jack Benedick. After losing both legs during the Vietnam war, Benedick turned to skiing as a form of rehabilitation. Once he learned to ski, his passion, innovation, drive and leadership have created a lasting impact on adaptive skiing; specifically, the evolution of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team to the U.S. Adaptive Ski Team, and the success of the athletes. Bendick won numerous medals in the Paralympics, after which he become adaptive sports’ most influential advocate.• Charles Elliott. From 1936 to 1944, Elliott was the driving force behind the growth and interest in skiing in the San Luis Valley, specifically Wolf Creek. His accomplishments include construction of shelters, fundraisers, establishing and training a local ski patrol, installation of rope tows, and serving as coordinator for Wolf Creek’s early operations. Now 98, he is the oldest member of the Grey Wolf Ski Club.

John Garnsey talks to Vail Chamber members

John Garnsey, executive vice president of Vail Resorts Mountain Division, and the chief operating officer of Beaver Creek, was the guest speaker of the Vail Chamber & Business Associations Monthly Membership Meeting last Tuesday, March 11.Garnsey talked about his arrival into the town of Vail as a ski bum in 1974. He went from living in a crowded East Vail house of 10 guys, to working for the nonprofit organization, Vail Associates Foundation. The foundation, now the Vail Valley Foundation, was Garnseys introduction to the ski resort industry. Shortly after the 1999 World Championships in Vail, he was asked to head operations in Beaver Creek where he has been employed ever since. An important focus of the meeting was a discussion about the recent changes made in the executive leadership of Vail Resorts and the direction the company is moving toward due to these changes. Garnsey said that although it is unfortunate for the community to see Bill Jensen leave for his new position at Intrawest, he is looking forward to having Chris Jarnot, an experienced resort industry executive, able to take over more of the leadership responsibilities at Vail. While the impact of the slow season start did affect revenue for Vail Resorts as well as the town businesses, Garnsey said the record snowfall since mid-December and more international visitors to Vail have helped. He anticipates the redevelopment in Vail and the reputation of this years snowfall will be beneficial to the community for next year, and that the potential for Vail staying open an extra week next season due to a later Easter holiday is a possibility. Garnsey reminded those at the meeting that this years Easter is still a heavy income-producer for the Vail Valley before the close of the season. Garnsey also participated in a question and answer session with the Vail Chambers Board of Directors and other members of the business community. The discussion included a comparison between the Vail and Beaver Creek resorts and the changing demographics of the area. One of the biggest differences seems to be the successful advertising campaign for Beaver Creek, which uses not only traditional ski industry media to advertise but also focuses on magazines such as Bon Appetit and The New Yorker for their campaign. It is possible Vail will follow in the footsteps of this innovative approach to generating business.Lourdes Ferzacca is president of the Vail Chamber & Business Association board of directors.

Vail Resorts announces senior management promotions

BROOMFIELD, Colorado ” Vail Resorts, Inc. today announced three senior-level executives have been promoted within the company. John Garnsey and Blaise Carrig have been promoted to co-presidents of the Mountain Division, while Stan Brown has been promoted to president of the Lodging Division, all effective immediately. As co-presidents of the Company’s Mountain Division, Garnsey and Carrig together will be responsible for oversight of the entire division. Garnsey remains chief operating officer of Beaver Creek Resort and has direct oversight of Vail Mountain. Carrig remains chief operating officer of Heavenly and has direct oversight for both Breckenridge Ski Resort and Keystone Resort. Stan Brown becomes president of the company’s Lodging Division with direct oversight of the luxury Rock Resorts hotel collection; Vail Resorts Hospitality, which includes all other owned and managed hotels and condominium properties; Grand Teton Lodge Company; and the company’s golf operations. Garnsey was appointed executive vice president for the mountain division in January 2008 and was appointed senior vice president and chief operating officer of Beaver Creek in May 1999. Prior to Vail Resorts, Garnsey served as president of the Vail Valley Foundation from 1991-1999. He served as the executive vice president for the 1989 World Alpine Ski Championships in Vail and Beaver Creek and as president of the organizing committee for the 1999 World Championships. Garnsey first came to the Vail Valley in 1974, working his way up through various mountain operations positions at Vail Mountain before moving over to the foundation. Garnsey currently serves on the board of the National Ski Areas Association and is president of the Beaver Creek Resort Company and the Bachelor Gulch Village Association. He serves on numerous local boards, including the Vail Valley Foundation and The Vilar Center Foundation. Carrig was appointed executive vice president for the Mountain Division in January 2008 and was appointed senior vice president and chief operating officer of Heavenly Mountain Resort in September 2002. From 1997-2002, Carrig was the president and managing director of The Canyons in Park City, Utah. Prior to July 1997, he served as the managing director of Sugarbush Resort in Warren, Vt. Carrig had held a variety of positions at Sugarbush since 1976, from ski patrol to vice president and general manager. Carrig was recently appointed to the Nevada Commission on Tourism and serves on the executive boards of the California Ski Industry Association, the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, and the Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce. He is also on the boards of the National Ski Areas Association and the Tahoe Baikal Institute, an international environmental organization. Brown was appointed executive vice president and chief operating officer of Rock Resorts and Vail Resorts Hospitality in June 2007. Brown has more than 26 years of hospitality experience in locations throughout the world. His hospitality leadership career began in 1989 when he was appointed resident manager for Maui Marriott Resort in Lahaina, Maui. In 1994, he became general manager for Jeddah Marriott in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and general manager for Saigon Marriott in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in 1996. Further expanding his international scope, he was selected as general manager for the Renaissance Sydney Hotel in 1998. From 2000 to 2005 he was vice president of Pacific Islands and Japan for Marriott International, Inc. in Hawaii. In 2006, Brown was appointed vice president of Marriott International’s Asia operations, based in Hong Kong where he managed 50 hotels and resorts.

Garnsey named trustee for U.S. Ski Team Foundation

PARK CITY, Utah – Vail Resorts Co-President John Garnsey has been named to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Foundation’s board of trustees. The announcement was made by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s President and CEO Bill Marolt. Since starting at the Vail race department over 30 years ago, Garnsey’s influence on ski racing helped establish Vail/Beaver Creek as one of the top ski racing venues in the world. His influence and the relationships formed in leading both the 1989 and 1999 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships played a key role in Vail/Beaver Creek being awarded the 2015 World Championships. “John Garnsey has been a real difference maker for our sport,” Marolt said. “His leadership with the World Championships and the annual Audi FIS World Cup at Beaver Creek have helped showcase our athletes and grow our sport. His passion and knowledge will be a great asset to our board.” Garnsey moved from New Hampshire to work in the Vail race department in the ’70s. He joined the Vail Valley Foundation in 1984 and led the organization until moving to work for Beaver Creek in 1999. He was named co-president of Vail Resorts in 2008. He is a longtime FIS technical delegate and served on the race jury at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano. He is an active supporter of USSA programs and has played a vital role with Ski and Snowboard Club Vail. Garnsey serves in numerous board positions including the National Ski Areas Association, Vail Valley Foundation, Ski and Snowboard Club Vail and Vilar Performing Arts Center. He is being inducted into the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame this November. “The U.S. Ski Team has been a big part of my life in Vail and Beaver Creek,” Garnsey said. “As we look forward to welcoming the world back to Vail/Beaver Creek for the 2015 FIS World Championships, I’m proud to have the opportunity to further help our athletes at all levels as a board member.” The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Foundation is the nonprofit, fundraising arm of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, the national governing body of Olympic skiing and snowboarding. With an organizational vision to be the best in the world in Olympic skiing and snowboarding, the foundation raises money to support year-round athlete training, development, competition and educational needs of world-class athletes pursuing their Olympic dream.

Some in Vail see Epic ski problems

VAIL, Colorado ” Locals cheered after Vail Resorts said Tuesday it would cut about $300 off the price of a season pass for next season. But then some worried. Could the price be too low, and the pass too widely available? Anyone can buy the $579 Epic Season Pass, including the Front Rangers who come here in hordes each weekend. Some said the pass might make the lift lines too long. Others said the pass would make Interstate 70 traffic worse. Others said the pass might worsen Vail’s parking problems. On many Fridays and Saturdays during the winter, hundreds of cars are parked along the frontage roads, with ski-toting pedestrians sometimes dodging traffic to get to the ski mountain. “My concern is we can’t even afford a 1 percent increase (in cars) on Saturdays and Sundays,” said Bill Suarez, owner of Billy’s Island Grill. ” If you’ve ever driven from East Vail when Denver’s starting to come up ” someone’s going to die.” Still, Suarez said, he thinks the Epic pass is a good idea, and his employees and customers are planning to buy them. Vail Resorts says parking won’t get worse because the pass is aimed at out-of-state customers. Denverites ” many of whom now buy “Colorado Passes” that offer 10 days at Vail and Beaver Creek ” won’t buy Epic passes in large numbers, the company said. “We believe most of our Colorado Passes will not be upgrading to this pass, so, therefore, we think that parking really doesn’t change that much from where it is today,” said John Garnsey, executive vice president of Vail Resorts’ Mountain Division. Still, Vail Resorts projects it will sell an additional 12,000 passes for next year to in-state skiers with the introduction of the Epic pass, Garnsey said. Merchant pass sales, which totaled about 5,000 this year, won’t drop off significantly, he said. Denverites won’t want to shell out another $150 for unlimited days at Vail ” instead of just 10 ” and no blackout days, Garnsey said. Some Vailites weren’t quite buying that, though. “What I don’t understand is how anybody wouldn’t pay $100 to go from being able to ski in Vail for 10 days to being able to ski in Vail for 80 days,” said Margaret Rogers, a Vail councilwoman. “Even if, rather than skiing 10, they ski 20, it’s going to be a parking problem for us.” Andy Daly, a councilman and former Vail Resorts president, said another 12,000 Front Range pass holders could increase Front Range passholders by 10 percent. A 10 percent increase to cars on the frontage road would be “intolerable,” Daly said. “I think the parking situation is one that we can’t leave to, ‘Well, let’s see how it works, and if we sell more passes, then we can address it,’” Daly said. Flo Raitano, director of the I-70 Coalition ” a group working on ways to ease congestion ” said she isn’t sure how the pass will impact interstate traffic, which can be bad on winter weekends. “It could be beneficial,” she said. “It could contribute to more congestion on weekends. At this point, we just don’t know.” Vail Resorts says skier numbers on the mountains won’t increase significantly during the busiest times ” such as Christmas and spring break ” because the amount of beds in town limit the number of vacationers who can stay here. However, more skiers will come to Vail during slower times between peak periods, the company said. “We have big peaks and we have deep valleys, and we’ve been trying to blend that for a long time,” Garnsey said. A lot of visitors take a trip each winter to a Vail Resorts ski mountain and then a second trip to a competitor ski resort, Garnsey said. The company hopes, with the Epic pass, to induce both of those yearly ski trips to be at a Vail Resorts mountain, Garnsey said. And the Epic pass will make out-of-state skiers commit to a ski vacation before the season starts, Garnsey said. Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or

Beaver Creek may, or may not, get big slide

BEAVER CREEK – In a summer season in the not too distant future, tourists may ride an alpine slide here. Or not.Whatever happens, Beaver Creek property owners are casting a wary eye on Vail Resorts’ plans. The Beaver Creek Property Owners Association held a meeting recently to talk about what sorts of summer entertainment the resort company may, or may not have in mind.That meeting was closed to the public. Afterward, association board president Tom Schouten wasn’t saying much. He acknowleged that the association heard from John Garnsey, Beaver Creek’s chief operating officer.”We’re going to continue to negotiate with Vail Resorts on this,” Schouten said. “We’re working with them to find an appropriate alternative.”Garnsey was even more circumspect in his comments.”We’re exploring our options,” Garnsey said. “We don’t know today if anything is feasible or not.”On the topic of “negotiating” with property owners, Garnsey said only that there’s nothing to negotiate right now.”We’ll try to let them know what our plans are,” he said. Vail Resorts has an alpine slide at the Breckenridge ski resort. People ride a chairlift to the top of the slide, then ride down on plastic sleds.”There are other things I’m going to look at,” Garnsey said. “We’ve been looking at what’s out there. “There’s nothing decided today,” he added. “But we may do something for the summers.”Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14624, or, Colorado

An edgier, grittier Beav

In this day and age of relatively restrained capital improvements budgets, a new high-speed quad chairlift is something to get excited about. Even Vail Resorts can’t build a Blue Sky Basin every year.So Beaver Creek officials are busy talking up their new baby with an old name: the Birds of Prey Express. The new quad replaces the ancient and slow-moving Westfall (or “West-crawl”) double chair, which crept so tentatively “you could have lunch, you could contemplate life, and there are some dead spots in cell service or you could almost have conducted a business meeting,” says Beaver Creek Chief Operating Officer John Garnsey.More commonly known as Chair 9, Westfall was the lift linking the main mountain to the Red Tail Camp area, where runs from Grouse Mountain, Larkspur Bowl and the Birds of Prey converge.But it took about 15 minutes, so many snowriders simply opted for Dally, a long, slow cat track back to the base of the resort. The new quad will take less than eight minutes.”I think it’s going to have a dramatic impact on how skiers and riders move around Beaver Creek Mountain,” Garnsey says. “It certainly will expose the Birds of Prey terrain to a lot more people; it will be easier to get to; it will keep people on the top of Beaver Creek Mountain; and you won’t have to ski or ride down Dally.”The new lift is already running for race crew workers prepping the famed Birds of Prey Downhill course for a Dec. 6-7 men’s World Cup, and Garnsey says the resort is working with Vail Valley Foundation officials to set up a Dec. 5 opening ceremony for the new lift that will include some of the athletes in town for the races.In a related marketing move, Beaver Creek has named the primarily expert Grouse, Larkspur, Birds of Prey trail system “The Talons” to give the resort a signature extreme area.”It identifies the steep and challenging terrain that Beaver Creek has,” Garnsey says. “We’ve had problems in the past identifying to people that not only is Beaver Creek a good family mountain, but that it has some of the most challenging terrain in the Rocky Mountains.”We’ll start talking about The Talons the way Vail talks about the Back Bowls.”Beaver Creek is also promoting &quotThe Talons Challenge&quot through its ski and snowboard school. The program rewards experts of all ages in private or group lessons with a spot on either the Gold Talons Team (ski or ride one run from each lift in The Talons) or Platinum Talons Team (finish all identified runs in The Talons).Finally, Garnsey says Beaver Creek is by no means done upgrading lifts. The on-again, off-again gondola from the Confluence Site in Avon through the Tarnes employee housing project to the base of Bachelor Gulch Village and on to the top of Strawberry Park may be on again.”Vail Resorts, along with Beaver Creek Resort Company and Bachelor Gulch Village Association, are working on an alternative (funding) solution to hopefully be unveiled sometime this ski season,” Garnsey says.

Vail history tied up with Ski Classic

VAIL ” If you groom it they will come. In the early days, it was easy for resident skiers to think of Vail Mountain as a local secret. The American Ski Classic changed that, as international ski racers discovered for themselves the bounty of Rocky Mountain powder. “The Ski Classic laid the groundwork for a lot of things we’re able to do here,” said John Dakin, vice president of communications for the Vail Valley Foundation. “This is the event that brought a lot of European skiers to Vail, where they could see the commitment we have to ski racing. So they were the fists that lobbied for Vail as a racing venue.” Vail was a Grand Slalom stop for the inaugural World Championships tour in 1967, but the races didn’t return for more than a decade. In 1981 the Ski Classic was the first event Beaver Creek Resort hosted. “It was Pepi Gramshammer’s idea to add the legends into the equation,” Dakin said. “It’s one of the few ” maybe the only ” annual event that celebrates the past with the legends. You always need to remember where you’ve been, whether in sports specifically or life in general.” The Giant Slalom was added in 1983, the Men’s Downhill in ’86 and the Women’s Downhill in ’87. “Suddenly, a lot of people who normally wouldn’t have come to Vail started to arrive,” Dakin said. “It was a good vehicle to introduce people to the valley.” John Garnsey, chief operating officer for Beaver Creek Resort, has attended every single American Ski Classic, including the Classic’s forerunner, the Jerry Ford Celebrity Cup. “Especially when we had the same participants returning year after year, there was a real sense of camaraderie,” Garnsey said. “A lot of long-lasting relationships started there.” Garnsey used to work at the Vail Valley Foundation, which puts on the American Ski Classic. The World Cup races used to occur during the same time, which made it one enormous ski event. “We really wanted to make the World Cup bigger and more exciting, with more exposure,” Garnsey said. “So when everything was under the same umbrella, the all-inclusive festival really affected Vail’s identity. It’s what put the Vail Valley on the international ski racing map.” Vail Colorado

Industry insiders talk about success in Beaver Creek

BEAVER CREEK – Forget PowerPoint. If you want to get a crowd’s attention, have several white-jacketed volunteers serve cookies on silver platters. Vail Resorts Co-President John Garnsey made some new friends at the Mountain Travel Symposium Wednesday by passing out chocolate-chip cookies to a nearly full-house crowd at the Vilar Performing Arts Center Wednesday morning. But Garnsey used the cookies to make a point about one way the resort company works to build its brand and grow its customer base. Garnsey was one of four industry experts speaking at a session titled “Where We Are,” a look into some of the business practices among one airline and three resort companies. Garnsey was joined on stage by Dave Hilfman of United Airlines, Steve Rice of CNL Lifestyle Company, a real estate investment company that owns several ski resorts, and Aspen Skiing Company Chief Executive Officer Mike Kaplan. The resort officials talked about ways their companies are working on building customer loyalty, adding programs and participating in community projects. Kaplan dedicated his presentation to the ways Aspen is involved in sustainability efforts, from highway cleanups to support for environmentally-oriented local ballot issues to a brief boycott of Kimberly-Clark – the company that makes Kleenex – in an ultimately successful effort to get the large company to change its forestry practices. While the sustainability projects may be worthwhile for their own sake, Kaplan said there’s a business case to be made for those projects, too. “What we offer is renewal and redemption,” Kaplan said. “We’re offering people a life-changing experience that sticks with them.” Customer experience is at the core of Vail Resorts’ business, too. Since Garnsey was speaking in Beaver Creek, he used that resort as an example. The resort’s tag line, “Not Exactly Roughing It,” is the source of many of the resort’s efforts, from the “Cocoa and Corduroy” mornings to “cookie time” in the afternoons. In between, the resort works to provide a level of service that starts at the “welcome gates” at the base. Those gates used to be security gates, Garnsey said, but now have people who regularly ask guests if they know their way to their destination or need any other assistance. The escalators at Beaver Creek were the first in the industry, Garnsey said, and have since been copied elsewhere. Roving “ambassadors” wander the resort, looking for anyone who might be having trouble with just about anything, and are authorized to hand out anything from lift tickets to meal vouchers to make a problem right. Resort guests seem to respond to service and amenities, too. Rice showed the audience numbers for the ski industry as a whole that indicates the resort business has fared better through the current economic slump than it did in previous downturns. Revenue has held relatively steady, and the trends are positive for both revenue and skier days. But, Rice said, those numbers are the result of a lot of creative thinking about how to continue to provide great experiences and keep expenses in check. That creative thinking led to things like keeping on-mountain food prices stable for three seasons at Mountain Sunapee, New Hampshire. That led to more business at the on-mountain restaurants. Adding a “mountain coaster at Cranmore, New Hampshire, brought 50,000 non-skiing visitors in its first season. And rental revenues are going up at Northstar in California thanks to a new “valet service” that puts renters’ equipment at the base of the lifts, meaning customers don’t have to haul their gear all over the village. While the resort companies work to build on an already strong base, though, airlines continue to struggle. “We’re trying to find a way to stay relevant, alive, and make some money in the process,” Hilfman said, launching into a rapid-fire review of the current state of the airline industry. While that industry turned a $4.7 billion profit in 2010, last year was the exception. “The airline industry, since its beginning, has lost money,” Hilfman said. Consolidation and mergers are the latest idea to help get the number of seats, planes and passengers into relative equilibrium, Hilfman said, adding that the industry is also looking to the resorts it serves to find ways to make more routes profitable. “Bear with us,” Hilfman said. “We’ll do all we can to make everybody successful.” Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or