Four mountains maneuver in market
December 27, 2003
DURANGO The market for destination skiing is flat, as everybody except for Rip van Winkle knows, and has been flat for a decade or two.But four ski areas in southwestern Colorado, all of them largely dependent upon destination skiers, are responding in very different ways that mirror changes across the West.Durango Mountain Resort, a.k.a. Purgatory, is building base-area real estate, and lots of it 1,649 units over the next 20 years, plus a hotel, shops and all the rest. When people own a condominium, they want to use it occasionally and go skiing.But baby boomers reaching their peak years for buying vacation homes is only one part of the story. Another part of the story is that of attracting their kids, which nearly all resorts in Colorado are doing with new or updated terrain parks. Durango has one, Paradise Park.Meanwhile, at Telluride, the $14 million Prospect Bowl expansion was created with one primary motive attracting destination skiers with its intermediate skiing. Telluride is also putting money into making itself more accessible to busy far-away skiers with improved direct flights.The other two ski areas in the Four Corners area visited by the Durango Telegraph are among only three in Colorado Ski Cooper is the other holdout without snowmaking. Wolf Creek rarely needs snowmaking, as it routinely gets the most snow of any resort in Colorado.Lately, it invested in a high-speed quad, as well as hike-to-ski terrain expansion. Otherwise, it’s skiing as it used to be for the Texans and Oklahomans that it attracts.Finally, there’s Colorado’s newest ski area, Silverton Mountain, a place of unrelenting steeps. Because of the avalanche threat, owner Aaron Brill can accommodate only 80 ski tourers a day, each of whom gets a Sno-cat skiing type of experience.That’s where his market clearly is and the future of the market, as far as he’s concerned. “As the younger skiers move into their 20s and 30s and start having expendable income, they’re also just getting better, largely because of improved equipment,” he said.Four Seasons opens in Jackson HoleJACKSON HOLE, Wyo. Four Seasons has opened its first mountain resort, a 124-room hotel with a workforce of 350.Those who attended the grand-opening bash everywhere along the way saw walls hangings from the likes of Miro, Alberto Giacometti and Grant Wood, reported the Jackson Hole News & Guide.The hotel, said the newspaper, “adds another level of class to the valley.” Four Seasons also plans a hotel in Vail.