Vail flash mob helps man propose to his girlfriend
VAIL — Mike Garcia, of Mexico City, has been vacationing in Vail with his family for almost 15 years, and he said he hopes that continues to be a family tradition in the future — that’s why he wanted to propose to his girlfriend at the base of the gondola — with a flash mob, music and a huge banner.
Skiers and snowboarders at the base of Lionshead Village on Sunday were treated to a flash mob and free dance show as Garcia got down on one knee in front of Paulina Martinez near the Eagle Bahn Gondola amid a background of fresh snow.
The flash mob involved more than 30 local students performing a choreographed dance routine to a mashup of songs including Bruno Mars’ “Marry You” and Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel.” Towards the end of the routine, the performers unveiled a banner that read, “Paulina, will you marry me?”
This is Martinez’s first time in Vail and Garcia and Vail Mountain staff planned for her ski lesson to end with a ride down the gondola. When she got out of the cabin, the flash mob began, and Garcia emerged from behind the dancers to propose.
“She started crying — you know how it is,” said Garcia. “I told her I knew she would be with me the rest of my life and asked if she would marry me. She couldn’t even talk, she just kept nodding, so I took that as a ‘yes.’”
The happy couple, both from Mexico City, planned their visit to Vail earlier in the year. This fall, Garcia reached out to the resort to begin planning an unforgettable proposal. Garcia said that at first, guest services suggested a secluded and beautiful spot on the mountain. The resort could place a bench and maybe some champagne at the spot.
“I said, ‘You don’t understand,’” remembered Garcia. “I want something huge.”
He scoured the Internet for proposals and saw videos for flash mob proposals. It wasn’t something he had seen much of in Mexico, so Garcia knew it would be unique. Through months of preparation, Vail Mountain employees helped to organize an epic flash mob dance for the proposal.
“I want to say thanks to Vail Resorts. (The employees who helped plan this) were the brains behind all of this. I was a lot of work, and they made it happen,” he said.
Creating an epic moment
While the proposal may have been Vail Mountain’s first corporately organized dance mob, it’s not the first time the resort has tried to create an “epic moment” for a guest, said Bobby Murphy, the mountain’s vice-president of Ski & Snowboard School and Guest Service.
“This is one of those moments we look for. Part of our customer service philosophy is, ‘owning it, personalizing it and elevating it,’” said Murphy. “It’s one thing to go on a ski trip with your fiancee and propose on a deck on the mountain, but it’s another to reach out to the resort and let us try and create the experience of a lifetime for the guest.”
Murphy said that besides encouraging employees to think of creative ways to help guests, Vail Mountain also has a program called Operation Elevation, where employees can bestow little acts of kindness on unsuspecting guests.
“There’s one that we call the Cookie Cabin, where we look for a family in the back of the gondola line and present them with a basket of cookies and hot chocolate,” he said. “We escort them up to the front of the line, and they get to ride up in their own cabin.”
First-time skiers who are struggling — who have given up and are walking down the slopes or who are in over their heads in an area of difficult terrain — might experience Operation Save the Day, where mountain hosts will help them down the mountain and enroll them in a free lesson. In another program, lucky ski and snowboard school kids might get to ride in a snowcat at the end of the day.
Murphy said the fun of this weekend’s proposal was that it was not only a great experience for the newly engaged couple, but for everyone who witnessed the flash mob.
“I was so excited to see the joy and excitement not just for couple for also for the hundreds of guests who were watching,” he said.
Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.