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Hyper-luxury hits slopes of Beaver Creek

Cliff Thompson
NWS Ritz Carlton 11-9-03 CS
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This luxury ski-vacation package is either the height of hedonism or the epitome of entrepreneurial solutions to the ever-increasing hassles of ski-vacation traveling.

It’s called “Skiing Made Easy,” and it’s available to purchasers of luxury fractional-fee ownership at the slopeside Ritz-Carlton Clubs in Bachelor Gulch and Aspen Highlands. They’ll pay $185,000 to $500,000 for a one-twelfth share of a two- or three-bedroom luxury unit, available from 21 to 28 days a year, but it’s the other benefits that are eye-openers.

“Our first time on the mountain, we got off the chairlift and found the concierge waiting for us,” said Mark Pitchford, an owner in the Aspen Ritz-Carlton Club. “She helped us get oriented and showed us the runs. Clearly, it was service of a higher order.”



The bundling of services and amenities, ranging from air travel to child care solves the multiple problems with a sport that, some feel, requires a little extra effort. Those problems prevent 85 percent of all first-time skiers from returning to the slopes, according to ski industry officials.

In a press release, the company noted it can be “a daunting task trying to dress the kids, rent skis and enroll them in lessons.”



“Anything that eliminates the hassles is a positive thing for skiers,” said ski consultant, developer and parent Jerry Jones of Avon. “Skiing is not an easy thing to participate inm especially if you have kids.”

Walking in ski boots? No longer necessary. Carrying and storing your skis for the next day? Done. Seeing to it that your children are in ski school or taken care of when they come down form the slopes? Done.

Those are part of the amenities available a la carte to members that add value to the package. A ski nanny, if you wish, is available for $40 and will assist your children during the day with ski-school registration, equipment rental and will even take them to an apres-ski theatre, then return them to your residence after your ski day.



Members can also purchase 25 hours of flight time from a private jet operated by Marquis Jet, for about $100,000 and for that price, can fly to any of the Ritz-Carlton Club’s locations on as little as 10 hours notice.

The airline-charter industry has taken a page from the fractional-fee real estate industry in offering packages of flight hours, said Jones.

“With the fractional fee a lot more people can use jets on call,” Jones said. In addition to that, increasing security required for air travel in the wake of 911 is causing some people to rethink buying a commercial air ticket.

“Some people that may have apprehension about flying major airlines now have an alternative,” Jones said.

After touching down at the Eagle County Airport or at Aspen’s Sardy Field, you’ll be taken to your residence where a private concierge will have stocked your home with food and laid out ski clothing for the next day.

In the morning, a ski valet will already have your skis tuned and on the snow and your ski boots warmed and ready.

“We’re trying to take the hassle out of recreation and to maximize time on vacation,” said Ritz Club Marketing Director Jeff Meier. “As more and more people look at the cost of travel and the hassle of security and board and and everything else, they’re doing more door-to-door service and they’re convinced the price difference is actually justified.”

Meier said 55 percent of the Club’s units have been purchased in the year since it opened. Approximately 5 percent of the purchasers come from other countries.

This is the first year the services have been bundled, he said.

“We’ll see what they choose as important to them,” he said.

The Ritz-Carlton Club has operations in Colorado, Florida and on the Carribean island of St. Thomas.

Cliff Thompson can be reached at 970-949-0555 x450 or cthompson@vaildaily.com


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