Thursday, November 29, 2012

Vail Resorts Announces EpicMoms

Vail Resorts today officially launched a partnership with expert family travel writers and the Company’s new website, www.EpicMoms.com, designed to provide moms (and dads) with thoughtful tips and expert advice on planning the best family vacation experiences at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar Resorts and additional content for this year will include Kirkwood Resort.
Written by award-winning family travel writers and moms, EpicMoms.com provides fresh, relevant content on winter and summer travel in the mountains for families with children of all ages. Topics cover the basics of family vacation travel planning, including blog posts dedicated to each of Vail Resort’ seven world-class resorts about where to stay, where to eat, winter and summer activities, mom getaway weekends and date nights at the resort. The website also offers expert advice on winter and summer gear and traveling to and from the resorts, along with a video and photo gallery. There’s even a place for guests to "Ask an Epic Mom" their questions and then find the answers posted directly on the website.
"Planning a family vacation can be a challenging task for busy moms and dads. At Vail Resorts, we are continually looking for ways to make it easy for families to take a vacation at one of our seven world-class mountain resorts, which is why we’ve created EpicMoms.com. It’s an online resource with expert advice by moms for moms to help them plan the experience of a lifetime for their families at our resorts", said Kirsten Lynch, executive vice president and chief marketing officer.
The Epic Moms regularly spend time at each resort researching and reviewing everything from lodging to restaurants to ski school to the best ways to ski or ride the mountain with kids. They’re award-winning travel writers in their own right who also happen to love spending time with their families in the mountains.
Jen Leo is a travel and tech writer who lived in Tahoe 20 years ago. Mom to a preschooler, she’s introducing her daughter to the mountains for the first time. She writes the nationally syndicated Web Buzz column for the Los Angeles Times, blogs for CNTraveler.com , and writes kid-friendly hotel reviews for PoshBrood.com. You can hear her weekly co-hosting the podcast “This Week in Travel,” available on iTunes. Outside of Jen’s travel life she co-founded BestKidsApps.com, a website that reviews children’s iPhone, iPad, and Android apps.
Jamie Pearson is a writer, a mother of two, and the publisher of the award-winning family travel website Travel Savvy Mom. Her writing has appeared in Parenting, the Utne Reader, on the Fodor's Travel Guides web site, and in various parenting anthologies. She has traveled extensively with and without her children. Her threefold traveling philosophy is: 1) Never leave home without peanut butter, 2) No child is too big for a stroller, and 3) Always bring plenty of new toys—$50 for three pounds of plastic junk will seem like the deal of the century at 3 a.m. in a London hotel.
Rachel Walker is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colo. After reporting on environmental issues for western newspapers, she worked as an associate editor at Skiing for three years before launching her freelance career in 2007. She writes about adventure travel, parenting, skiing and more, and her work has been featured in the New York Times, babble.com, Backpacker and Skiing. With two kids in diapers and a penchant for snow, speed and the mountains, she has managed to integrate parenthood and adventure with only a few lifestyle changes.
Kara Williamsis one of those East Coast transplants who moved to Colorado "just for the summer." Nearly two decades later, she makes her permanent home in the Colorado Rockies with her husband and two school-age children. Kara is a longtime freelance writer who has covered travel topics for such publications as Every Day with Rachael Ray, Sunset, Ski Canada, The Denver Post andthe Dallas Morning News. Annual family vacations include sun, surf and palm trees, typically in Mexico or Hawaii, but now that her kids are older (and skiing faster than she does) the entire Williams family loves to hit Colorado's slopes in the winter months, too. Learn more about Kara on her website and read about her family’s travels on her blog The Vacation Gals.

The Wonder Reels: Episode 4 - The Deep

Powder is a commodity. It's rareness is what makes it valuable. Those in the know, know, the moment must be embraced. And the powder stashes are the place.
Whistler's Average Snowfall: 10.42 metres / 410 inches / 34.1 feet (1,092cm annual average of past 10 years).



Whistler Blackcomb has been named the No. 1 overall ski resort in North America by the readers of SKI Magazine. The 26th annual readers' poll ranks the top 60 North America ski resorts in SKI Magazine's Resort Guide, hitting newsstands on October 16. The survey of 20,000 SKI readers is the longest running and most comprehensive survey of its kind in the winter sports industry.
Along with being named the nº. 1 overall resort, Whistler Blackcomb ranked highly in many other individual categories, including: nº 1 overall in Terrain Variety, nº 2 overall in Service, Lodging, Apreski, Off Hill Activities, and Digital Presence.
Whistler Blackcomb also placed in the top five resorts for Challenge of Terrain, Lifts, On-Mountain Food, Dining, Scenery, Terrain Parks, and Overall Guest Satisfaction.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Saas-Fee To Host Again The Ice Climbing World Cup

From 12 to 19 January 2013, Saas-Fee will once again play host to the Ice Climbing World Cup. This year the famous week-long iceclimbing event will be even more spectacular thanks to new climbing features. Audiences will also be able to witness the first-ever youth world championship. The evenings will be packed, too, as athletes and spectators get together for the already-legendary Ice Parties.
Athletes from around the world will compete on ice walls up to 30 metres in height, leaving spectators enthralled. This year the Saas Valley also has the honour of hosting the first youth world championships in the history of ice climbing. Held in Saas-Grund over two days, the event will showcase around 50 young athletes competing in "Speed" and "Lead" disciplines.
This year, the Ice Night ski-touring race (Swiss Cup) is open to both professional and amateur skiers. So whether you’re an elite athlete, or an upand-coming talent, or ski just for fun, you are very welcome to take part. The race starts on the Saas-Fee village square, where spectators can enjoy raclette and wine while they wait for the competitors to return to the finish line.
It is not only participants that will enjoy the Ice Climbing World Cup & Swiss Masters event; spectators are also guaranteed to get their money’s worth. The new climbing features make for more difficult, even more spectacular routes that will really put competitors to the test. So that the event is a treat for the palate as well as the eyes, various food stalls will be offering Valais specialities, and the Vins de Chevaliers wine cellar from Salgesch will be hosting a tasting at the wine bar. And there’s no need to worry that you might get chilly. At the World Cup Ice Parties, the electric atmosphere during the live climbing demonstrations is sure to keep anyone warm!
This action-packed event will keep you energised all week long. With competitions from morning till night and wild parties until dawn, it probably won’t even occur to you to hit the sack.
Program 2013
  •  12.01. UIAA Ice Climbing Youth Woldcup & Swissmasters, Saas-Grund
  • 13.01. UIAA Ice Climbing Youth Woldcup & Swissmasters, Saas-Grund
  • 16.01. SAC Ice Night Ski-Touring Race (Swisscup), Saas-Fee
  • 18.01. UIAA Ice Climbing Worldcup & Swissmasters, Saas-Fee
  • 19.01. UIAA Ice Climbing Worldcup & Swissmasters, Saas-Fee
  • 18. & 19.01. World Cup Ice Parties
Livestream and additional information available from: www.iceclimbingworldcup.ch
or www.saas-fee.ch

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Peak Resorts Buys Alpine Valley Ski Area

Peak Resorts announces the purchase of Alpine Valley Ski Area in Chesterland, Ohio. The northeast Ohio resort opened in 1962 and has two chairlifts, as well as four surface lifts.
"Alpine Valley fits strategically with how we are trying to grow our business in a market that we are familiar with", says Jesse Boyd, VP of Peak Resorts. "We feel the resort has been well maintained, and has a lot of potential. We look forward to the close integration of the resort with Boston Mills and Brandywine resorts, which are also located in the Cleveland area".
Jason Boyd will run the area this winter.
Peak Resorts is a privately owned Missouri-company that operates ski resorts in the Midwest and Northeast United States. The company was founded in 1977 by Tim Boyd. In 1982 he bought his first ski resort (Hidden Valley Ski Area). Shortly thereafter he opened a ski-resort in suburban Kansas City, Missouri at Weston, Missouri (Snow Creek Ski Resort).
Peak Resorts owns 10 ski resorts across the East and Midwest of the country: Attitash, NH; Crotched Mountain, NH; Mount Snow, VT; Wildcat Mountain Ski Area, NH; Boston Mills, OH; Brandywine, OH; Hidden Valley Ski Area, MO; Mad River Mountain, OH; Paoli Peaks, IN; and Snow Creek, MO. Jack Frost and Big Boulder Ski Areas are operated by Peak Resorts.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Wonder Reels: Episode 3 - The Stoke

Whistler Blackcomb's Opening Day tradition is a kind of candy festival - the soft grey light of morning is skittled-through with bright new gear and buzzing skiers and riders, amped by the prospect of making that first turn in 6 months. Some are Opening Day regulars, some are cutting school, some are here for their first time. But when the gate drops, and the gondola starts to load, they are all riding the same wave of Stoke, right to the top.



Whistler Blackcomb has been named the No. 1 overall ski resort in North America by the readers of SKI Magazine. The 26th annual readers' poll ranks the top 60 North America ski resorts in SKI Magazine's Resort Guide, hitting newsstands on October 16. The survey of 20,000 SKI readers is the longest running and most comprehensive survey of its kind in the winter sports industry.
Along with being named the nº. 1 overall resort, Whistler Blackcomb ranked highly in many other individual categories, including: nº 1 overall in Terrain Variety, nº 2 overall in Service, Lodging, Apreski, Off Hill Activities, and Digital Presence.
Whistler Blackcomb also placed in the top five resorts for Challenge of Terrain, Lifts, On-Mountain Food, Dining, Scenery, Terrain Parks, and Overall Guest Satisfaction.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Resorts Gear Up For 2012-13 Season Facebook Battle

With much of the marketing and communication efforts of top ski resorts around the world now focused on social networking, there’s a push on to add more fans on Facebook pages.
The world top 4 for fan numbers remains unchanged from the end of the last ski season six months ago (The Biggest Ski Resorts On Facebook) although the numbers have risen by 10-20,000 fans each, and two more ski areas, including the first from outside North America, have passed the 100,000 fans mark.
Heavenly and Mammoth, both in California, USA remain one and two respectively with more than 128,000 and 124,000 respectively. Vail is gaining ground with 122,000 and Whistler has 118,000 – so the gap between the top four has narrowed to around 10,000 fans compared to nearer 20,000 six months ago.
The two new resorts to pass 100,000 fans are and Valle Nevado in Chile, with over 105000 fans, and Jackson Hole in Wyoming, one of the resorts adding fans the most quickly, with 101,000.
In Europe Megève continues in the top spot, now with more than 90,000 fans, but Grandvalira has added more than 30,000 fans over the summer and is now on 88,000 in second position.
There are some interesting anomalies for some of the leading resorts on Facebook. For example facebook.com/Chamonix is the personal page of a nurse christened Chamonix and based in Utah. The official Chamonix Facebook page (facebook.com/ChamonixFrance) has only 3000 fans which the unofficial fan site facebook.com/ChamonixFans has some 33,000 fans.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Saas-Fee Named Best Swiss Ski Resort

Yesterday the results of a questionnaire for "Best ski resort" with over 40‘000 guests were presented. Saas-Fee / Saastal was voted best Swiss ski Resort. Internationally it was even voted to second rank out of 55 top ski destinations in Austria, Germany, Italy, France and Switzerland. In terms of snow reliability, slope preparation and cosiness, Saas-Fee / Saastal hit top status. Together with Aletsch Arena and Zermatt, 3 of the first 5 ranks are taken by valaisian destinations.
Right on time for the start of the winter season 2012/13, Saas-Fee / Saastal is climbing to the top with the best ski resorts of the Alps. The independent guest satisfaction study "Best Ski Resort" is counted as one of the biggest and most significant studies in the alpine area and has questioned more than 41’000 winter sport guests. The guests appreciated the high snow reliability, great slope preparation and the cosy feeling of Saas-Fee / Saastal. The top placement in these three categories led to the gold medal in Switzerland. Internationally, the winter sports guests voted Saas-Fee / Saastal onto second place out of 55 ski resorts in the European alps.

Snow is guaranteed
"About 70% of all ski slopes in Saas-Fee are guaranteed for snow", says Rainer Flaig, CEO of the Saas-Fee cableways. The top rank in snow security is due to the unique glacier area and the unmatched height of the area, which is offering fun in the snow up to a height of 3’600 meters altitude. Above this, Saas-Fee cableways invested strongly into the artificial snow production over the last years.

Slopes are fulfilling highest demands
Also in the area of slope preparation, Saas-Fee / Saastal is in first place across Europe. "The Saas-Fee cableways has strongly invested in the infrastructure for preparing the slopes. This top rank was achieved with the help of our highly qualified and experienced teams who secure the quality of the slopes. That even in summer the slopes are living up to the highest expectations are demonstrated through the numerous national and youngster teams, which train in Saas-Fee for competitions regularly since many years", said Flaig.

Authenticity essential
The car free vacation resort in the southern canton Valais convinces also in the category cosiness (1st place) and ambience (2nd place). Pascal Schaer, Director Tourism, is convinced: "The top ranks achieved in these two categories clearly shows that authentic and decelerated vacation resorts are en vogue. Further are the historic and landmarked `Stadel’ made out of sun blackened larch wood, the narrow alleys and stone covered roofs are unique for the guests experience. Here it shows that product quality and authenticity are looked for by guests".

Saas-Fee / Saastal even more attractive in winter 2012/2013
In the coming winter season, Saas-Fee / Saastal is raising the attractiveness even further. Already for the coming weekend on November 10th /11th 2012 the slopes and facilities are going back in service up to Morenia (2’500 meters altitude). Additionally the Saas-Fee cableways is the only Swiss mountain cable car and railway company which lowers their prices for kids and adults – according to a questionnaire of 20 of the largest Swiss ski resorts conducted by a Swiss TV broadcast. The 6-day destination ski pass is lowered by over 10%, daily passes by 5.5%.

Saas-Fee / Saastal is on course for growth
Pascal Schaer is optimistic for the future:"After the decline of the overnight stays, the downward spiral was stopped in summer 2012. The successfully initiated ‘cable cars and bus included’ in the past summer has made the Saastal the largest all-inclusive destination in Switzerland. This was crowned by a guest growth of over 30%. The big challenge is now to return to the growth path also in the Euro area and to unlock new guest segments". This has already begun in the far markets, were the guest numbers in summer show a drastic increase from Japan (+78%) and Russia (+22%).

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

New Subaru Freeride Series Announced

Salt Lake City, UT based Mountain Sports International (MSI) announced the schedule for the 2013 Subaru Freeride Series today. The new series features three 4-star Freeride World Qualifier (FWQ) ski events for men and women at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, CO (Feb. 7-10); Moonlight Basin Resort, MT (March 14-17); and the Subaru Freeride Nationals at Snowbird Ski Resort (April 11-14). Two 2-star Freeride World Qualifier events will also be held as part of the series at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, CO (Feb. 6-7) and Snowbird Ski Resort (April 10-11). The 2-star events provide an additional platform for athletes to earn Freeride World Qualifier points with the top men and women advancing to the corresponding day of 4-star competition. The full FWQ calendar will be released tomorrow with a full slate of worldwide events, including additional FWQ events in Canada and the United States.
"These premier 4-star events provide crucial opportunities for athletes hoping to qualify for the world tour", said Event Director Bryan Barlow of Mountain Sports International. "We are excited to provide this opportunity on the country's leading big mountain venues".
The Freeride World Qualifier point system (FWQ) has been developed as part of the newly unified Swatch Freeride World Tour by The North Face (FWT). All FWT events are designated as 5-star events. FWQs range from 1 to 4-stars and enable athletes to earn a corresponding ratio of points based on their performance at competitions. Accumulated points immediately affect an athlete's position on the FWT ranking system. The top ranked athletes will qualify to participate on the 2014 FWT.
The first ever FWT season will start with a roster of 36 prequalified male skiers, 14 male snowboarders, 14 female skiers and seven female snowboarders. Athlete qualification for the 2013 FWT has been designated by previous tour performance and rankings on the 2012 Subaru Freeskiing World Tour, The North Face Masters of Snowboarding and Swatch Freeride World Tours. In the future, the FWT roster will be created through the FWQ point system granting FWT positions to athletes with the highest points on the FWT and regional Freeride World Qualifying events such as the Subaru Freeride Series. The 2013 season of FWQ competition will climax at the Freeride Nationals at Snowbird Ski Resort in April, the final opportunity for FWQ athletes to launch to the FWT.
The Subaru Freeride Series is sponsored by Subaru, Sierra Nevada, Clif Bar, The North Face and Black Diamond.
Registration for Subaru Freeride Series will open Dec. 4, 2012. Riders will be able to create a profile and sign-up for the Subaru Freeride Series events of their choice through the Freeride World Qualifier registration system. Twenty-one days prior to the 4-star day of competition and 45 days prior to the 2-star event, registration for the events will close. Riders will then be determined off of the seeding list on the day registration closes.
2013 Subaru Freeride Series Registration Schedule:

Date
Class
Star
Location
Open
Closed
Feb 6-7
SFS
2
Crested Butte, CO
Dec 4
Dec 23
Feb 7-10
SFS
4
Crested Butte, CO
Dec 4
Jan 17
Mar 14-17
Apr 10-11
SFS
SFS
4
2
Moonlight Basin, MT
Snowbird, UT
Dec 4
Dec 4
Feb 21
Feb 24
Apr 11-14
SFS
4
Snowbird, UT
Dec 4
Mar 21

Monday, November 5, 2012

World Ski Awards set for Kitzbühel 2013 Launch

World Travel Awards, "the Oscars of the travel industry", is launching a new programme to acknowledge the finest brands in the global ski industry. The inaugural World Ski Awards will take place at the Grand SPA Resort A-ROSA Kitzbühel, Austria on 16th November 2013.
World Ski Awards will be the first of its kind to celebrate the pinnacle of the wintersports hospitality industry. The exclusive awards programme will feature five categories: best ski resort, hotel, chalet/lodge, inbound operator and boutique hotel.
The elite organisations from the world’s top 20 ski nations will be nominated in their respective categories, and then enter a public and industry vote. Countries in the programme are: Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and USA. At the ceremony, the national winners with the most votes will be announced as the victors in their respective world category.
Kitzbühel in Austria’s Tyrol will provide the perfect setting for the inaugural red-carpet ceremony. Home to the legendary Hahnenkamm Race, the historic medieval town is synonymous with ski tourism and is one of the world’s most popular wintersports destinations.
The landmark ceremony will be staged at the world-class Grand SPA Resort A-ROSA Kitzbühel, which enjoys a spectacular location overlooking the Hahnenkamm peak.
Sion Rapson, Director, World Ski Awards, highlights the role that the programme will play: "World Ski Awards will serve as the definitive awards programme to reward and celebrate the elite of the wintersports industry. The gala ceremony in Kitzbühel will bring together the leading players and provide a unique forum for exchanging ideas and top-level networking".
Uwe Schramm, Director Grand SPA Resort A-ROSA Kitzbühel underlines the importance of the event: "Hosting World Ski Awards is a great chance to share our services with important key players from different ski destinations world wide. Kitzbühel is an incredible resort to experience a charismatic mix of endearing tradition and glamorous cosmopolitan atmosphere".
Peter Marko, Managing Director Kitzbühel Tourist Board, says: "Kitzbühel is very proud to host the inaugural World Ski Awards 2013. Our great ski history which reaches back to 1892, the Hahnenkamm race and one of the leading ski resorts in the Alps makes Kitzbühel a perfect place to launch the World Ski Awards".
World Ski Awards aims to drive up standards within the ski industry by rewarding the organisations that are leaders in their field.
The voting process begins in March 2013 when ski organisations across the world will be announced for the programme. Votes will be made by professionals working within the ski industry – senior executives, travel buyers, tour operators and agents. Votes can also be cast by the public. The voting works on a first-past-the-post system to ensure impartiality and independence. Votes are submitted online at World Ski Awards’ website.
World Ski Awards is part of World Travel Awards. Global media partner includes International Herald Tribune, National Geographic Traveller, CNBC Arabiya, Newsweek, Outlook Traveller, Breaking Travel News, eTurboNews and Travel Daily News International. This global media partner network has a monthly readership of 1.7 million and a TV audience reach of 90 million.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Future of the Industry Survey conducted by SE Group: Part 3

By Claire Humber
As published in Ski Area Management (SAM, November, 2012)


CHALLENGE #3: COMPETITION FOR LEISURE/ENTERTAINMENT/RECREATION DOLLARS
"There are so many other activities that are vying for our customer’s attention…"
Under the recurring theme of business as usual, the ever-increasing competition for the discretionary dollar is not a new challenge in our industry. It has often been noted that a ski area’s biggest competitor is not the neighboring hill, but rather Disneyland, the soccer league, the mall. So many choices, so little time!

While not a new challenge, emerging trends within the world of leisure are definitely ratcheting up the competitive landscape. That said, in the spirit of CHALLENGE = OPPORTUNITY, the industry continues to focus on ways to remain relevant in this broader leisure/entertainment/recreation marketplace.

OPPORTUNITIES: DEMOGRAPHICS

The general lack of ethnic diversification within the current skier population presents a tremendous growth opportunity for the industry. As the ethnic makeup of the country evolves, the industry must continue to find ways to penetrate ethnic segments that have lower a incidence of snow/ski participation, and make it easier to introduce these groups to skiing and riding. Areas like Mountain High, Calif., have had great successes in this arena, and are integrating diversification throughout their operations. This includes hiring practices for front-line employees and management.

The family unit, from a recreation leisure standpoint, is stronger than it has ever been—the family is playing together. This is a positive trend for the industry, especially as facilities become more year-round. And there is no better sport than skiing for spending time together as a family.
"More so than ever, children dictate the family vacation and second home purchases. Further, kids tend to be more loyal to places where they have had great experiences. We are now in the business of selling to 8-year-olds".
It is important to remember the decision-making dynamics of the family. In addition to children influencing how the family’s leisure time is spent, moms are more often than not the key decision-maker when it comes to deciding how the family will spend time together. Think about this as you craft your marketing message.
"The interest in and opportunities for our customers to go abroad, and foreign nationals to come here to participate in winter recreation, constitute both threat and opportunity".
The rising amount of travel opens up a more international marketplace. Can North American resorts compete on the international stage?

OPPORTUNITY: LIFESTYLE/EXPERIENCE

Skiing and snowboarding are lifestyle sports, and the mountains are lifestyle destinations. Ski areas, mountain resorts and mountain communities will always have the competitive advantage of the lifestyle appeal of the sport and the locale.

"Let’s not forget that we are in the FUN BUSINESS—keep it easy, keep it as hassle free as possible, keep it fun!"
Skiing is cool again, and continues to have a “fundamental aspirational appeal” in the marketplace. The industry can continue to sell an authentic experience and be true to the sport of winter skiing. The broader four-season palette of mountain-oriented activities may have a less aspirational appeal, but broaden the potential market capture by providing "pure, unadulterated, no hassle fun".
"Staying youthful and healthful is more important than ever".
Over the past ten years we have seen a growing trend toward healthy lifestyles: becoming more physically fit, looking for ways to get outdoors and have fun experiences with families and friends, seeking connections with like-minded people. In addition, the mountain environment provides an antidote and escape from our increasingly fast-paced, technology-based society.
"Holistic packages should cover mountain activities, body rejuvenation, quality food and diet, rest, and the one missing ingredient at many resorts, intellectual interaction".
Mountain resorts are well positioned to attract those seeking such experiences by communicating the vitality and social aspects of the resort environment and lifestyle, and emphasizing the “experience” part of the visit—be it learning a new sport, taking part in a new activity, learning something through a class, taking in beautiful scenery, or getting a great massage.
Destination resorts may play upon this theme to encourage a transition to “destination living,” an opportunity to work and play in a resort setting.

OPPORTUNITY: ADVANCES IN TECHNOLOGY—MARKETING AND MEDIA

"All of us, of whatever type, are better positioned than in the past due to the improved knowledge of our guests, the greater ability to reach them and precisely tailor products to their needs and desires".
The recent advances of media technology continue to have a profound impact on how we do business. Resorts are now able to gather vast amounts of data and information about their customers, and have many more ways of directly communicating with them. Resorts may use this information to develop unique product and service niches that are in direct alignment with the needs and desires of their customer base. This ability to brand and differentiate from the competition is an important component of how resorts are being sold in today’s marketplace.
Of course there are many pros and cons of the use and impact of social media for resorts. While it effectively allows the enthusiast’s evangelical promotion of a resort to gain much greater reach (think of Vail’s EpicMix), we have also seen the damage done by the recording of a negative experience gone viral (think Snowbasin).

OPPORTUNITY: COLLABORATION

Collaboration within the industry will continue to be important as the competitive challenge from beyond the industry continues to grow. This includes uniting behind industry initiatives aimed at increasing exposure to the sports of skiing and snowboarding and growing core participation. In addition, survey participants noted other opportunities for collaboration.

Collaborations between destination resorts, feeder and breeder areas. Each type of facility is important to the sustainability of the industry, as each provides a different level of access to the sport. As each type benefits from the presence of the other, each should collaborate with and support the other.
Inter-business partnerships. With the technological advances in media, collaborations with similar lifestyle products (i.e. the sponsorship of the X Games by Jeep) provides mountain resorts with an exponential increase in market visibility.
Environmental group partnerships. Partnerships with environmental organizations/groups allow mountain resorts to support the sustainability of the natural environment, the integral backdrop for all resort activities (i.e., Vail’s 1% from summer ticket and activity revenue to support The Nature Conservancy and forest health).
Strategic investments. Resorts may purchase other connected businesses that provide experiential opportunities for guests (i.e. raft/guide companies).
Public/Private. "Blur the lines and turf to provide better service AND be more sustainable".

Mountain resorts continually struggle to provide activities and amenities for their guests and property owners. The communities in which resorts exist likewise struggle to provide amenities and recreation infrastructure to their residents. Can there be an evolution from a wholly-owned resort mentality to a campus that requires an array of community services?" What would the structure of such an alliance be, from a financial and governance perspective?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Saas-Fee Offers Free Ski Passes in January

The Swiss currency gained 11 per cent against the euro in the first nine months last year, forcing the Swiss central bank to intervene with a pledge to buy unlimited amounts of the European common currency to ensure one euro would buy a minimum of 1.20 Swiss francs.
"The strength of the Swiss franc over the euro has caused a near nine-percent-drop in European tourist numbers" to Switzerland during the first seven months of this year, said Federico Sommaruga, who heads the emerging markets unit at Switzerland Tourism, the national tourist board.
Many ski resorts meanwhile have announced a freeze on ski-pass prices, conscious of the expected drop in bookings from many crisis-hit European countries. According to the Swiss weekly Der Sonntag, more than half of resorts contacted said their ski-pass prices were unchanged, whereas last year 80 percent of them announced price increases. Several resorts even announced price cuts for a day on the slopes, including Saas-Fee, in the southern Valais canton, and Engelberg-Brunni, in central Switzerland.
To entice skiers back, Saas-Fee offers a free ski pass in January. From 5 to 26 January 2013, the ski resort will cover the cost of a three-day or six-day ski pass (Four nights with a three-day ski pass, arrival on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday Seven nights with a six-day ski pass, arrival on any day of the week ). This special offer can be booked directly at the hotels included in the promotion.
Hotel Schweizerhof****sup.
Hotel Allalin****
Best Western Metropol Grandhotel****
Hotel Alpin***sup.
Hotel Ambiente***sup.
Hotel Etoile***sup.
Hotel Alphubel***
Hotel Bristol***
Garni Condor***
Hotel Eden***
Hotel Europa***
Hotel Elite***
Garni Feehof***
Garni Imseng***
Hotel Mistral***
Hotel Waldesruh***
Garni Domino**
Hotel Tenne**
La Gorge
Popcorn-Hotel

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Wonder Reels: Episode 2 - The Pass

Push the boundaries. A hunger for new wonders, new vistas and new challenges fuelled trailblazing big mountain ski legend Eric Pehota, who pushed the boundaries to explore Whistler Blackcomb's high alpine terrain. Now inbounds and accessible for all adventurous spirits, Pehota now revisits his old stomping grounds with his sons, Logan and Dalton, two of Canada's hottest upcoming freeskiers.



Whistler Blackcomb has been named the No. 1 overall ski resort in North America by the readers of SKI Magazine. The 26th annual readers' poll ranks the top 60 North America ski resorts in SKI Magazine's Resort Guide, hitting newsstands on October 16. The survey of 20,000 SKI readers is the longest running and most comprehensive survey of its kind in the winter sports industry.
Along with being named the nº. 1 overall resort, Whistler Blackcomb ranked highly in many other individual categories, including: nº 1 overall in Terrain Variety, nº 2 overall in Service, Lodging, Apreski, Off Hill Activities, and Digital Presence.
Whistler Blackcomb also placed in the top five resorts for Challenge of Terrain, Lifts, On-Mountain Food, Dining, Scenery, Terrain Parks, and Overall Guest Satisfaction.

Where To Ski and Snowboard In November

After two months with less than two dozen ski areas open in the northern hemisphere, the past few days have seen the 2012-13 ski season really take off with the first non-glacier ski areas open following heavy snowfalls in the Alps and Northamerica. Over the next month hundreds of ski resorts will open for winter 2012-13.
Austria currently has seven glacier ski areas open. Good snowfalls in the country during October have kept conditions good. Among the winners are the Stubai glacier with 55 cm of fresh snow, snow up to 90cm deep and 41km of slopes open and Sölden which got another 15cm snow fall on Tuesday topping the total snow depth to 85cm.
The Pitztal glacier has received 60cm (two feet) of fresh snow over the past week and now has 174cm snow depth and 27km of slopes open.
Skiinfo reports that the Dachstein, Kaunertal, Kitzsteinhorn (above Kaprun), Molltal, and Tux glaciers are also open.
The ski season never ends at Zermatt (Switzerland), Europe’s highest ski centre, and Saas-Fee has also been open since July and will remain so to late spring 2013. Engelberg and Laax have recently opened their glacier ski areas, the latter at weekends only through November. The Diavolezza glacier near St Moritz is also reported to be operating.
Verbier announced it will open early on Friday November 2nd and Glacier 3000 between Gstaad and Les Diabletrets opens on Saturday, November 3rd.
Tignes, which has for the past month been the only ski area open in France, has been joined for one week only by Les Deux Alpes where the glacier is open until 4th November. It will then close for four weeks before the main season begins. Both glaciers are reported to be in good shape for snowsports with terrain parks in place and a freshen up of a few centimetres of new snow in recent days.
The Dolomiti Superski region in Italy has reported heavy snowfall with 50cm of snow in recent days. It’s a similar story in Madonna di Campiglio. However no reports of any early openings as yet and the main choice remains Cervinia, now open full time through to 5th May 2013 after weekend openings in October.
The snow is reported to be a metre deep and in good shape with 23km of runs open. Passo Stelvio and Val Senales are both also open for glacier skiing, the latter with a 30cm snowbase and five beginner and intermediate runs open.
More resorts are opening in Finland to join Ruka, which was the first top open, a fortnight ago. Levi, another of the country’s top resorts, has opened one run with a 20cm base of natural snowfall. It will host World Cup racing next weekend (9th November).
Scandinavia’s largest resort, Åre (Sweden), will open limited terrain this weekend on November 3rd thanks to the heavy snow in the region last weekend. It follows Vemdalen which opened for Halloween.
After resorts in California and Colorado opened last weekend, attention has switched to the East Coast of the USA thanks to Hurricane Sandy. This has brought several feet of unprecedented late October snowfall to many ski areas, but equally many areas have been damaged, remain without power, or say it’s the wrong kind of snow (heavy, wet stuff). Among ski areas opening early are Sugar Mountain and Cataloochee ski areas in North Carolina which opened for Halloween - their earliest ever openings. Both had around 30cm of snow.
In the west Boreal and Squaw Valley are open in California, Timberline in Oregon, and Keystone has joined Arapahoe Basin and Loveland in Colorado and Copper Mountain also aims to open this Friday, November 2nd – many other Western ski areas aim to open in the next week or so ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday period.
Two Alberta ski areas opening early last week. Mt Norquay at Banff and Nakiska in Alberta. Both reported great conditions with around a foot of snow on the ground.
Other ski areas in Alberta and BC (Canada) are reporting good conditions and the belief that 50cm bases they now have are ‘locked in’ for the start of winter now and wont thaw away until the spring. Lake Louise and Sunshine near Banff are due to open next, a week on Friday, on 9th November.