Vail Invests $30M in “Resort Experience” at Northstar-at-Tahoe

Investing $30M in to Northstar-at-Tahoe, Vail Resorts is aiming to improve the “snow experience”.  In addition to a new restaurant in the village, expect to see more shops (where you stupid tourists can spend your money on overpriced goods made predominately by sweatshop labor in the third world).

In addition to trinkets, t-shirts and tilapia, part of the money is allocated to a new high-speed chairlift and a 500-seat restaurant on the mountain.  I don’t know what the current dining situation is like or whether a brand new restaurant is something that a majority of the clientele is really willing to pay for.  As for the high-speed, well that’s fine & dandy but at the end of the day it’s just another cost that’s going to be built in to the price of your lift ticket or season pass.

I’m no Luddite. I love a high speed lift because that usually means more laps. And I like a nice dinner or pub experience as much as the next guy. But (perhaps) unlike the next guy, I don’t make my travel decisions based on these factors. Give me a fixed grip that gets me up the mountain without any crowds, a hamburger that doesn’t cost $14, and a cold PBR tallboy and it doesn’t get much better than that.

Vail may be able to attract some new season pass holders with a glossy brochure highlighting the “new and improved” resort-at-wherever-you-are, but this just comes at the expense of some other mountain (available data show that skier-days is basically a zero-sum game). Improvements like these don’t benefit the sport of snowboarding or the sport of skiing. They don’t bring new skiers or riders to the mountain and help them fall in love with the snow experience which will ultimately grow the industry as a whole.

No. The focus on corporate profit, the zero-sum growth of the industry, prices going through the roof (a consequence of the “resort experience” arms race) has essentially put our sports beyond the reach of the average Joe. In the long run, the emphasis on the “resort experience” is bad for our sports.

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