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Letters to the editor

Otto Wiest

OK, Vail gets rebuilt, old buildings disappear, and better ones will be here. Great, but what does it change things? Last night we talked about “old Vail” and the success of the 1960 when Vail was growing and got the reputation as a great place. Somebody said that those guys who invested their money in Vail were romantics. They did not care so much about money making and how fast it paid back. They had the dream of fun, of skiing as a wonderful sport, of friendship and of enjoying life. That’s why they moved here and it really seemed to work. Vail was exploding. Later on another kind of people took over, the money makers. They changed the whole idea from skiing for fun to skiing for money.There is a very small border between a expensive price and an unfair price.Years ago Vail Mountain had very little snow before Christmas. VA sold day passes for the full price of $65 or $69. When a customer complained about unfair treatment, a Vail employee answered that he had not asked him to buy a ticket. In those years before Bill Jensen arrived, there have been all season long bare spots all over the mountain. Those where the years when Vail got the image of being overpriced and unfriendly. When a skier comes to Vail because of the image as the top resort, if the guy is here and he has booked his room, he will not leave. How much can you charge him for a lift ticket? How much can you charge, for dinner, for clothes and all the things he needs? Does he get a fair price? What comes first, the chicken or the egg? If Vail does its best to make visitors happy, won’t they come again? Where have the lawn chairs gone in Mid-Vail? Where have the girls gone in their bikinis on the sun decks? All of this doesn’t make money, it makes work. Over the years, Vail Mountain turned into a perfect place for a workout on skis. But where to relax and to have fun? If you are tired, just go home?Remember those old Sun Valley movies that made skiing popular by showing happy skiers?Now you find, rush, danger, speed, noise. There is nothing wrong with earning money. We all need it. But when people like to be here, they will come again, and all their money will come with them. After two hours of skiing, you need a rest. Will you find up there a friendly place to relax and enjoy your day of skiing instead of being happy to move out again? There is all the advertising that brings people to Vail. Of course for skiing. They don’t come for eating, shopping, sleeping. And they don’t come to see all this wonderful buildings and roads. So they rent their skis and go up the mountain, guided by perfect maps and advice on where to go. But who shows them how to get down again? Look at all those bowlegged racers. Fun or funny? Go to a hotel and look how many are injured after one or two weeks. Go to Vail’s hospital on a weekend. Is that the way Vail takes care of their visitors? I was for around 15 years a full-time ski instructor at different ski areas in the U.S. and Europe. In these 15 years I never had a single broken leg among my students. If you cant ski, take a lesson. But don’t most of the Vail visitors need more then only one lesson? Look at all the poor skiing. Fast, yes! But style or control? We learn how to walk automatically because we are born this way, but we are not born to be skiers or boarders.Shouldn’t we teach them how to ski or board, so that the guests come back and enjoy this place? A hundred years ago, ski legend Hannes Schneider started to teach people how to ski, but he was not paid by the guests. He got his money from the hotel where the guests stayed. The guests learned how to ski and came back. The first ski resort was born.Rethinking Vail: First you pay (a lot) and than you learn how to ski? Or the opposite way: We teach you how to ski and then you will be happy to be in Vail. I seriously think that as long as some of the guys here don’t understand how this skiing business runs, it will be always kind of a limping deal. They better sell real estate, because that seems to run in another manner. The base of any sport is friendship, help and fun. This comes first, and if you offer it, the money will come automatically. But you cannot buy fun, you cannot buy help, and you cannot buy friendship. That are the things that everybody in Vail should offer. Don’t ask only the employees to be friendly. Rethinking Vail means how to create the kind of atmosphere that people need when they want to have a happy vacation. Vail employees, young kids and locals have their fun in any case. But who cares for the needs of the real customer? This famous customer service for which this country is famous, where is it in Vail? World-class skiing and boarding, no doubt about that. World class weather, OK. Don’t we care or don’t we understand what they need. How many come back? This part of Vail is really no success story. I would call it poor. Americans are normal people. They come back if they like it and they go somewhere else when they think it might be as good or better somewhere else.Otto WiestVail Can we talk?To the town of Vail decision makers: We continue to get newspaper letters and Tipsline submissions expressing views on the conference center. Most are one sided for or against. Jim Lamont recently took the time to provide a wealth of information not brought out earlier in any one place, then went on to fill in the blanks of a conclusion. I floated the notion of a third option (neither pro nor con) by adding a small tiered facility that could be used for local performing arts, realizing locals are partly paying for the project through sales tax and giving up their irreplaceable hub site.So what’s wrong with this whole picture and process? Simply the sounds of silence from our decision makers by continuing to move along as if all these views have not been expressed. Let me quote from the Conference Center Committee’s bible, the HVS Business Case report: “A coordinated community-wide effort will be necessary to successfully fund this project.”It is absolutely indefenseable for the town to consider moving ahead without gaining a semblance of public unity for this project. Showing pretty pictures of the building without answering the financial questions and what’s in it for ALL the people is not a way to gain community unity. This conference center cannot tear this community apart, and the decision makers need to be sensitive to this principle.There are ways to avoid this and to date they have not been considered. Please ask for suggestions and volunteer help in this most important matter. Hubris (the word we are hearing a lot of these days) should not automatically be the mind-set based simply on all the hard work that has gone into the projectPaul RondeauVailAn era passesDear Sundance Saloon: Farewell, my dear. This is it. The last few hours before you are ripped down and replaced by a bunch of million dollar condos. No worries, of course. Everyone knows you, Mr. Sundance Saloon, will be easily replaced. Let’s see, there’s got to be another place with your 24-year history, where if the walls could speak, a whole lot of people would be in trouble. There must be a place where upon entering the front door, everyone knows your name, greets you with a smile, and is happy to see you. There must be a place where you can act like an idiot, or be grumpy, and not have that stupidity held against you. There must be a place where seamless conversations exist, without judgment or penalization. There must be a place where one can fall in love with a friend, and then wake up the next morning wondering what the heck happened. There must be a place where you can frequent year after year, and nothing thankfully changes. There must be a place. There’s got to be a place. Right? Thanks for everything, Sundance Saloon. It’s been one heck of a journey. And just remember as the bulldozers rip through your walls, in actuality, it’s going to be difficult, if not impossible, to find a replacement. So, thank you for the memories and as you already know, you will be truly missed by a whole lot of people.Colby ScudderVail, Colorado


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