Vail Daily column: Vail Resorts’ quest for world dominance |

Vail Daily column: Vail Resorts’ quest for world dominance

Richard Carnes
My View

Pinky: “Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?”

The Brain: “The same thing we do every night, Pinky — try to take over the world!”

Around the same time “Pinky and the Brain” were animated hits on TV, the infamous junk bonds overwhelmed the truly famous (and extremely popular) local ski resort owner George Gillett and Vail Associates became Vail Resorts, thus beginning a never-ending quest to become the Starbucks of the ski industry.

I’d say they’re succeeding.

Who wants more coffee?!

It’s like the game of Monopoly; with exactly 22 properties on the board, VRI can now offer “skiers from across the country and around the world access to 22 resorts.” Boardwalk has always been a euphemism for Vail and now Park Place is, of course, Park City, Utah.

I’ll let you decide which properties are symbolic of Baltic and Mediterranean Avenue.

By the way, does anyone out there in Happy Valley still have a Monopoly: Vail Edition in their possession? I owned one years ago, but I’m pretty sure my ex-wife absconded with it (along with my early ’90s false pride), and I recall it not having a “Free Parking” square (you actually had to pay if you landed there), the “Luxury Tax” spot was called “Real Estate Transfer Tax” and the “Go to Jail” square sent you straight to Copper Mountain.

Either way, hold on to that sucker, as it could be worth a fortune someday in the “remember when?” category.

But I was truly surprised (naive, perhaps) for the level of vitriol in some of the online comments posted across the World Wide Web, but especially those coming from the home of the Zion Curtain.


While some were screaming to praise their new ski overlords and for a name change to “Vail West,” others were actually complaining about the possibility of escalators, heated sidewalks and $50 daily parking fees.

I don’t know, maybe they were all complaining and I just missed the sarcasm.

And as if to add insult to injury, the now former Park City owner, Powdr, still owns Copper Mountain.

Talk about feeling surrounded.

The way I see it, VRI finally owns a resort that hosted an actual Olympics, and to be perfectly honest, it’s nice to have a pleasant reason to remember Sept. 11, which is the day the sale was announced. The bottom line is that VRI is just a public company expanding an extremely successful business model, and if that’s how the market played out because of some executive’s boneheaded move concerning a lease, well, that’s the way the ski turns.

Sure, it won’t all be wine and roses, but I do feel compelled to repeat a few lines from a column I wrote back in February 2012, when we visited Park City for ski races:

“At this tiny little market right next to our hotel (and by tiny I mean smaller than the discount ticket window in Vail Village), I was standing patiently in line when an older lady in front of me complained about the ridiculously high price for a single bottle of Gatorade.

‘That seems awfully high for just one bottle,’ she snorted.

Without missing a beat, and of course having no clue where the now snickering man behind the lady was from, the clerk responded, ‘Yeah, well, at least we’re not as expensive as Vail.”

Give it time, sweetheart, give it time.

Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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