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Vail’s fall

Further, there is a greater issue that both the brass at VR and the community as a whole must deal with, and that is the quality of the experience of the guest.

When I decided to move to Vail in the late 1970s, part of my decision was that I was so impressed with the way I was treated when I was a guest here. Indeed, the unofficial philosophy of the town then was “if you can’t do it right, don’t even try.”

The service in every aspect of the town was pretty close to flawless, and I think it was a source of pride to those involved that they were giving their best to make every guest feel special. I could go on vacation and smugly note that it was true that to Vail, “there was no comparison.”



In recent years, I have noticed a marked decline in the service industry standards as a whole. My wife and I have had some appalling incidents at a couple of very expensive local restaurants recently, and have heard of several other guests and locals who have had similar encounters.

The attitude seems to be that the guest should accept however they are treated and still leave a 20 percent (or greater) tip when heading out the door.



Compare this to our experience recently in the Napa Valley. The cost of a week in Napa can easily run as much as a week in Vail, and although there is no skiing they certainly cater and market to the same demographic groups as Vail does. On every encounter we had with a service level employee we were made to feel welcome and every request was accommodated with a smile. The food was flawless and the service professional. at every turn. It was a pleasure to leave generous tips because we felt we were getting what we paid for.

Building a convention center and paving over what’s left of the open space in this valley is not going to restore Vail to its former glory. Investing in the people of this community and raising the morale and pride of the people serving the needs of our guests needs to be the number one goal.

As far as Vail Resorts is concerned, I sure wouldn’t want to work there. Look at what they do to people who work most of their careers there (and do a great job for the most part). If you get too far up the salary scale or are wanting full-time benefits, you are suddenly disposable.



No doubt they could afford to hand out those generous bonuses after trashing so many peoples lives, careers and hopes. All that hand-wringing and public agonizing over letting go people that had worked there for years was nothing but window dressing and not very convincing given the events of the last week.

As to what makes an employee give good service over mediocre to bad service is a question that every employer has wondered about for thousands of years. I don’t know all the answers, but in general it comes from a sense that the employee is valued and knows what is expected of him.

Likely he also needs to take pride in his profession and the establishment (or community) he serves. For many people seeing there might someday be room at the top of the organization and some level of job security if they do their job correctly does the trick.

Although the problem goes far beyond Vail Resorts, they are the biggest employer and to a degree set the standards for many in the community. There are a lot of good hard working people here, and thankfully they are the ones holding the place together.

But tragically they are in the minority, where once they were the majority. Wake up, Adam Aaron, Vail is losing its edge under your watch. Profits may be up, but it’s for the wrong reason. Quit worrying so much about your multi-million dollar bonuses to yourself and start worrying about the competition. You can take your millions and leave Vail when it no longer even meets your fairly low standards, and the rest of us will be stuck with your legacy.


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