Vail Daily letter: How to be No. 3
Vail, CO Colorado
The Vail Daily recently had three interesting pieces of information that fit well together.
There was on the front page Mr. Katz with his project Ever Vail.
On page A7 was Vail’s vision to become No. 1 again.
And on page A8, I found ” Town of Vail to enforce its skier drop-off rules.”
For many years, Vail was ranked in Ski maga-zine’s readers polls as the No. 1 North American winter resort.
Then for some years we got to be No. 2, and now we are down on the No. 3. This is quite interesting. When we got No. 1, this information was published quite loud. When we got No. 2, you could read that this is for a big resort a very good position. Now we are No. 3, and I almost couldn’t find this informa-tion anywhere. But according to the Vail Daily, the town of Vail starts now to think and talk about how to get back to the top.
On the next page, I was reading the Vail Town Council discussion on the skier drop-off at the Lionshead bus stop: “Margaret Rogers said she is tired of saying ‘no’ to people. ‘We want to be as friendly as we can possibly be to our guests and allow them to do what they want to do instinctive-ly and welcome them.'” She also said people have done this for 30 years.
But the Town Council agreed that the town would need enforcement officers standing by to direct people into the garage and away from the illegal drop-off area. One of the comments was, “Really, they can’t walk an extra 40 feet from the parking structure?”
The same day I felt very sorry to see my wife limping back home from the bus stop in her stiff and heavy ski boots. I was carrying her skis, and she told me that the worst thing about skiing is get-ting to the mountain and back home again.
When I was with Vail Ski School 45 years ago, there was no such problem. You could drive your car right to the slopes, and you had leather ski boots to walk home after skiing, and that was a dis-tance like from Lionshead to Safeway.
But times have changed. Ski equipment means heavy, stiff, plastic boots and heavy skis with safe-ty bindings and poles that constantly want to fall. The town was quite creative to keep the skiers far-ther and farther away from the ski slopes.
No easy drop-off and no parking is allowed, and it is a special secret how to get to the ski mountain when you are a normal skier without expensive privileges.
Can you imagine what would happen if Wal-Mart charged you money for parking your car or didn’t allow you to drop off in front of the entrance?
What is Vail? Is it not also a business, though a pretty unfriendly one?
I have a proposal for the Vail Town Council: Why don’t they all together walk every day before work in full outfit, with ski boots on, skis on shoulders and poles in hands up and down Vail’s Bridge Street before the start of the next meeting? Maybe to make this even more pleasant, let them look for a parking space and give them two children to go with them to the slopes. I am sure after a week they wouldn’t have to discuss any longer why Vail is No. 3.
Also I would recommend the same to Mr. Katz. I would send him on Martin Luther King or Presi-dents day weekend. He would have to ski all day, from morning to night, eating in his overcrowded restaurants, no special club dinner, no cutting lift lines. Just to be a normal customer at Vail Moun-tain. Let him try to find a parking space, get his lift pass and walk to the slopes, stand in lift lines and try to avoid getting hurt by some boarder or reckless ski-er. Then he would know what he offers to his clients. Somebody told me in the chairlift some days ago that he came to Vail in 1969, and in those days Vail was a pleasant ski village. Today, he said, it is a New York of skiing and a madhouse.
No, we can’t turn times back. But isn’t the deci-sion of the Vail Town Council typical for the present situation? Not like Margaret Rogers said: “We want to be as friendly as we can possibly be to our guests and allow them what they want to do instinctively and welcome them.” No, the council decided to put an enforcement officer there, like Councilwoman Kim Newbury said: She is tired of people doing what they are not supposed to do.
Exactly. This shows the difference between “old Vail” thinking and the “new Vail.” With this kind of understanding for the skiers, we will find Vail No. 4 or even farther down pretty soon.
But then, I guess we will not read about it any longer and the Ski magazine polls will be ignored.
And what is Mr. Katz going to do for it or against it? Is it really his job to create another Vail? Would-n’t it be more important to find solutions to make North America’s biggest ski resort more fitting to the changed world of skiing?
No, it is not bad at all in Vail, but it could be better. To go from No. 1 to No. 3 is not the same as to go from No. 3 to No. 1. For many years I haven’t seen any unfriendly Vail employees, and there is no need to tell them to be friendlier. To be No. 3 is not their fault, but it is the problem of the town of Vail and the problem of VR, which seem not to be able to recog-nize that it needs to be No. 1.
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