Vail Daily letter: How to improve paradise |

Vail Daily letter: How to improve paradise

Otto Wiest
Vail, CO, Colorado

When my friend “Mutsch” left some days ago, he mentioned that for him skiing Vail is among the very best. R. Mutschler is known in the ski world for having been the most successful head coach of the German alpine ski team. He has seen the whole world of skiing better and more completely then anybody I know.

When he says that Vail is the best, then believe me, that counts much more then Skiing Magazine or anything else.

It’s always nice when friends come over from Europe to visit me. I proudly show them our beautiful skiing and when I hear their comments. And I learn that a lot of my complains about Vail seem to be a little overdone.

For example, I complain about full mountain restaurants, but they have it even worse over there. I complain about old quads in Vail, but they have lifts with eight seats now, and as a result of their higher transportation capacities, they get overcrowded slopes.

They have as many accidents as we have and they have also no solution for avoiding them.

At the four biggest Swiss ski resorts – St. Moritz, Davos, Klosters, Zermatt – they have started what they call “Chill Out.” It means strictly limited speed for everybody. This was done according to the special wishes of guests so that older skiers and little children find a safer place on their ski mountain. All over the United States, wherever you go, safety has the priority, why not at skiing? I still think that Vail’s Game Creek Bowl might be an ideal place to try that out.

I have complained quite often about those big buildings we’ve got all over Vail lately. But my visitors told me that Vail looks beautiful. OK, it’s a little bit difficult to admit, but I get more and more the impression that I was wrong when I mentioned that those big bulky buildings would destroy our nice Vail ski village.

It opens possibilities that simply didn’t exist before, and might be that a lot of other resorts would be happy to have all the opportunities that Vail seems to have now.

The economic crisis also seems to have started some new thinking in Vail. I read about the town meeting and Dick Cleveland’s comments: “We need to become a resort again! … We rely on guests coming here and spending the night and not on redevelopment and real estate.”

Doesn’t it show that our Vail is getting back to the roots? And back to the success story of Vail. I always had the feeling that all this developing and real estate have brought the wrong people into the valley.

A recent weekend ago, when we had wonderful powder snow and sunshine, I was on top of Vail Mountain. Yes, it was crowded there and we had lift lines almost everywhere. But I really didn’t mind waiting a little longer. It was a good feeling to share this beautiful winter day with all these happy skiers around me.

And I am convinced that many Front Range Skiers, when they get home at night, will tell the other people down there in Denver what a wonderful weekend they had.

That is the way to make skiing popular and to make skiing a sport for everybody like it is in Europe. In the U.S., it is still is a minority that is skiing and boarding. Thanks to Rob Katz and his Epic Pass, for opening Vail to many new customers. Even if we locals are not so happy about all the people with whom we have to share the snow, it is fun to meet those friendly skiers from all over the U.S.

They travel hundreds of miles from Minnesota, San Francisco or other places just for three happy days of skiing.

Good news was also the Vail Daily article about Vail’s economic advisers who aim to monopolize on health and wellness. Vail is moving in a perfect direction if this advice will be accepted. Vail’s new focus “Vail 360” informs that “fitness and wellness are replacing luxury as the new marker of wealth.”

Yes! They are so right. If you move around Europe ore anywhere else around the western world you will find out that those Vail advisers know exactly what to do and where Vail’s big chances are.

Vail has the potential to become a leading place for health and fitness in the U.S. and could become a peak destination for wellness worldwide. That would be much more than only a ski resort.

To have visitors for health means to be busy all year round. It’s safer then depending on snow, but skiing fits very well in those plans. Vail has an ideal location, beautiful mountains, incredible facilities, consistent weather, unbelievable air quality, restaurants, hotels, the airport and most importantly, a clinic with all the help that people need.

Everything matches perfectly. We all like this place, and instead of constantly complaining it is so wonderful to have a reason to be satisfied and happy and to have the confidence that our valley is moving in the right direction.

The only thing what worries me when decisions are necessary from bureaucrats. I was reading lately that a perfect bureaucrat is a person who doesn’t make decisions and doesn’t take responsibility. Let’s hope that we don’t have any of them here in Vail. All those people in Vail who had the guts to do things early and with the necessary determination have been successful.

I think Beth Slifer is very right. Let’s move!

Otto Wiest


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