Vail Daily column: A brief reminder of what’s important
Every now and then it’s good to receive a reminder of what’s really important. We were blessed by Mother Nature last season and were very spoiled by her generosity. This season, not so much.
It’s human nature for this attitude about (lack of) snow to creep into our customer service toward our guests and even to creep into our daily interactions with friends, co-workers and family members. I received a phone call from a long-time Vail guest who wanted to share a story with me about her family, ironically just as I start to see this attitude starting to creep in. I’m sharing it verbatim as it captures the essence of what is important in a family ski vacation and the memories captured over the years coming to Vail.
“All it takes is a whiff of cherry Chapstick or a taste of hot chocolate and my senses are flooded with my fondest memories. From 8:30 a.m. when the lifts open to 3:30 when they close, we challenge our bodies, push them, and revel in them as we are taken aback by the natural beauty of Colorado in January. When Martin Luther King Jr. holiday rolls around, my soul is resting in the thought that in just a few hours I’ll be off the plane in another state, with the sun shinier than ever, and the crisp, cold air biting at my cheeks; the absence of humidity and absurd change in altitude is refreshing and chills my senses to become extremely perceptive and in sync with every sound and smell. I am suddenly home again, in a different realm, with a different identity that must remember itself from my last visit only a year ago.
“Skiing is not a leisure or an activity or a pastime for my family. It is a holy relic, a timeless ritual, a religious sport, an opportunity to become a new spirit within the seven days that we spend in the haven of Vail, Colorado. We wake up to a scrumptious home-cooked meal by my nana, who is the stereotypical, petite woman who loves to bake bread, then take turns in the bathroom brushing teeth and washing our faces, and eventually begin the tedious process of getting dressed in layers to prepare for the 15 degree weather. With 20 or more people getting ready in the morning, it can be rather chaotic, “Where’s my glove?” “Have you seen my goggles?” “Is this your gaiter or mine?” My legend of a grandpa rushes ahead of us, anxiously beside himself to beat the crowds. He is the master, the lord of all double black diamonds, the king of moguls, and the 65-year-old hero who taught me to ski.
“The experts and I head out to the Back Bowls for some great powder, difficult runs and fewer crowds. The real adventure begins here. This is when I truly invest my body, mind, heart and soul into the same thing. The silence is what I enjoy most; all I can hear is the edges of my skis carving the snow and my Paw Paw’s voice in my head – “plant your poles, lean forward, bend your knees, keep your shoulders square to the mountain” Oh how many years it took me to perfect those techniques to the point of my body becoming familiar to the odd sequence of movements. But now it’s a clear, second nature as I glance around to assure myself of the suits belonging to my group. 11:30 and it’s time for our weary bodies to head into Two Elk Restaurant for lunch … a chilled peanut butter and jelly and crunchy Cheetos from the backpack and a much deserved hot chocolate from the cafe.”
-Chandler Lipham, high school senior from Carrollton, Ga. (and longtime Vail visitor)
What a wonderful reminder that a ski vacation to Vail isn’t just a vacation, but a time for family and a time to make memories. Snow is important – but time with loved ones and the memories created in our valley are what help shape the guest experience.
Thanks to Chandler and to all the other repeat visitors for the gentle reminder that a great vacation is not all about snow. But Mother Nature, if you happen to be reading, let’s get on it (please?).
As always, I encourage all member businesses to get engaged with the Partnership and to contact us with any suggestions you may have to help us better serve you. Call us at 970-476-1000 or stop by our offices in Avon at Traer Creek Plaza to share your feedback.
Chris Romer is executive director of the Vail Valley Partnership.
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