The long-john winding road |

The long-john winding road

Daily Staff Report

Several times a year I have the pleasure of skiing with clients at Beaver Creek. When asked to work at “the Beav’,” it usually means that I’ll be entertaining high-end clients and enjoying some of the valley’s better dining establishments.One such client was a secretary of state from the southeastern U.S., on her second trip to Colorado. She was here with her husband and a group of affluent friends.After several days, Ellen was still stuck on the beginner’s area, despite having “warmed up” at one of the local ski hills close to her home. To make matters worse, she had fallen on her hip enough times to give herself a large, sensitive welt.One morning, Ellen informed me that our group had been invited to have lunch with the chief executive officer of Vail Resorts at the posh Allie’s Cabin. Sitting high on the side of the mountain, Allie’s pampers each arriving guest with toasty slippers, five-star cuisine and breathtaking views of the valley.Concerned with her “talent challenges” from the previous two days, she asked me if I thought she would be capable of skiing there for lunch. I told her that it would be difficult, but she could make it if we went slowly.The trail leading down to Allie’s from the top of the Centennial lift is a long, gentle catwalk. The snow was great, but as expected, Ellen tired easily and repeatedly fell on her bruised hip.I suggested that when we got to Allie’s, we get a bag of ice to put on her bruise. When we arrived, the staff provided her with an ice bag, which she slid inside her ski pants while we enjoyed a two-hour gourmet lunch.When Ellen stood up from the lunch table, she realized that the ice bag had sprung a leak, saturating her ski pants and long johns. We quietly slipped off to the ladies’ room, where she peeled off her pants and asked, “Rita, could you take these pants out to the fire to dry them?””Of course,” I said. After all, the ice bag was my idea.I dried the ski pants and returned them to Ellen who was futilely trying to dry her long johns with a hand dryer. She asked me, “Rita, would you mind taking this underwear out to dry by the fire?”Once again, I trudged out holding yet another pair of wet, women’s ski clothing. By this time, our group had retreated to the fireplace, where there was immense interest in what a professional ski instructor from Vail was doing drying long underwear in front of the fire at one of the valley’s finer restaurants.When I brought the underwear back to Ellen, we realized that during drying, they had shrunk several sizes. She could barely pull them over her thighs. With everyone waiting impatiently for us outside, I had a brilliant idea.I quickly slipped into one of the vacant cubbyholes outside the ladies’ room and stripped off my own long underwear. I neatly folded them and brought them back into the ladies’ room where Ellen was anguishing over the situation.”Look what I found!” I exclaimed. “Allie’s keeps complimentary long underwear for their guests. Hurry up and put them on. The group’s waiting for us outside.”Several weeks later, I received a very nice note from Ellen, telling me how much she enjoyed her Colorado vacation. Enclosed in the envelope was a copy of another letter that she had written to Adam Aron, the chief executive officer of Vail Resorts. It read:Dear Adam,I want to thank you for your hospitality during our stay at Beaver Creek. I particularly enjoyed our lunch at Allie’s Cabin. Having dined at some of the finest restaurants all over the world, I must tell you how impressed I was with their level of service. The complimentary underwear was an especially nice touch.Sincerely,Ellen- Rita Thompson, VailVail, ColoradoVail, Colorado

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