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Cost cutting at Breck and Keystone

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Two recent actions by Vail Resorts are prompting a lot of local controversy here in Summit County.

First Breckenridge has instituted a policy of delayed weekday openings for a number of lifts higher up the mountain.

This link will take you to an article in The Summit Daily on this issue.

http://www.summitdaily.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Site=SD&Date=20021128&Category=NEWS&ArtNo= 211280102&Ref=AR .

Today Keystone announced it is substantially reducing its night skiing schedule. Over the past few years Keystone has moved the nighttime closing for 10:00PM to 9:00 PM and now shuts down at 8:00 PM. The new plan is to only offer night skiing on a limited basis with the exception of holiday periods and spring break. Here’s a link to the article on this program.

http://www.summitdaily.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Site=SD&Date=20021128&Category=NEWS&ArtNo= 211280101&Ref=AR .

Any thoughts on these changes?
post #2 of 11
I have been skiing at keystone every year since the 93-94 season, my first trip to summit county I did a ski in ski out at breck & drove to keystone every day & nite to ski, my ski days consist of get there early ski till lunch, go eat either on the mountain or at kickapoos, then ski afternoon till close, then we would take a break go out to eat come back skiing about 6:30 till close 9m weekday 10m fri sat. 00/01 season they cut back to 8 & 9. I believe last season it was 8m every day,there were people showing up to ski when they were closing the lifts esp on fri & sat nites, the gondola is ok but so slow I like it better when the qaud next to the gondola is running its so much quicker to load & twice as fast to the top, we always come last part of jan first part of feb, I put the trips together & decide were we go there are 6 - 12 of us & we spend a lot of money because we always have people that need to rent all their gear & need lessons ect. I am already dissapointed at keystone cutting back nite hours if it gets worse we will go somewere else, the only reason we have not done a copper trip or anywere else is the lack of nite skiing, I have already bought my lift tickets for this season expecting nite skiing 7 nites a week if only till 8pm how can they make a change when they have sold lift tickets advertising hours of operation, this is one of the main features that make keystone different I believe that these changes can only hurt. we will most definatley go somewere else to ski & spend our money.
post #3 of 11
no one else have any thoughts on this topic, I think it is just a plain bad idea.
post #4 of 11
I heard the news about Keystone the other day also. While I was speaking with a customer service rep (while finding info about renewing my pass) I was assured that the cut back in times would only last until Dec. 20th.

I thought from the news report that I heard that the night skiing would be very limited until Dec. 20th and after that they wouldn't offer it at all???

I dunno??? I'm really peeved about it though. Seems that all of the things I enjoyed about Summit started changing soon after Vail bought the mountains. If they won't offer night skiing, we'll just put enough headlights on the Divide and pray for a full moon!!!!

By the way. If they keep it up I'm not renewing next year.
post #5 of 11
funny thing a lot of people don't care at all about nite skiing but the ones I always meet on the slopes at nite are having a blast, great time to rip
post #6 of 11
Yea, they suck.
I haven't been up ther yet but everyone is complaining.
We got the snow, we got the customers, everyone is paying or has paid for services that are simply not there.
It is like paying & expecting to play 18 holes of golf but only getting 12 holes. With 18 holes worth of people. Now you wait on every tee box. Same damn thing.
I'm sure the short term thinkers @ Vail/Breck wouldn't find golf like that acceptable.
It is amazing that Vail Mtn.sees no cutbacks of service, just another ploy to keep Vail #1.
post #7 of 11
Looks like Vail Resorts is making as many people angry as they possibly can. From the front page of today's Summit Daily News:

December 2, 2002

Questions, criticisms for McCarthy

Jane Reuter

KEYSTONE - Keystone residents lambasted the resort's new chief operating officer during a Friday night meeting of the Keystone Citizens League.

Roger McCarthy repeatedly assured the nearly 100 citizens at the meeting that he will address their concerns, which ran the gamut from inadequate snowmaking to concerns the area's recent capital improvements aren't on par with Vail Resorts' other properties.

"You need to understand, if this was an oil tanker, I can't turn it around in 100 yards," McCarthy said. "There's a huge amount for me to learn here. I can tell you, we'll have it fixed. We will take this place, I think, to where you're dreaming. Give us half a chance. Let's work together. We'll get there."

McCarthy has been Breckenridge Ski Resort's chief operations officer (COO) for almost three years. Last month, Vail Resorts added Keystone to his list of responsibilities, and he is now COO of both the Vail-owned ski areas.

McCarthy started his portion of the meeting by saying he's a straight shooter. He then suggested league members ask the three members of the local media in attendance to leave. While McCarthy said he has no problems with the media, if the press stayed, "It's going to be a different meeting," he said.

"What are you talking about?" asked league president John St. John. "The press stays."

Another man agreed, asking if McCarthy is "a straight shooter, what difference does it make?"

McCarthy let the matter drop, and then told residents his thoughts about Keystone's current condition. While Keystone has a good track record and is the third-most visited resort in the country, it is not where Vail Resorts wants it to be, he said.

"The philosophy of the company is, how do we bring Keystone back to where it should be?" he said.

The work list is significant. The River Run gondola, while state-of-the-art when built, now has "a lot of hours on it," McCarthy said, and needs some maintenance. The capacity of the snowmaking system needs to be increased, he said. Summit House, located on top of Keystone Mountain, "really doesn't fit where business is today," McCarthy said, and Mountain House, at the base of the mountain, "is less of a priority ... but needs work."

But some Keystone citizens said improvements need to be made soon. Several residents said grooming so far this season isn't adequate.

"When I hear guests say, "I'm not coming back,' that's bothersome," one man said.

McCarthy agreed, saying he's skied Keystone and also has some concerns about terrain.

"My own personal sense is we're not running enough cats out there," he said. "You'll see that change. We need to improve the grooming. Snowmaking ... we don't have enough capacity. We'll get it fixed by Christmas."

St. John said the citizens league wants to work with McCarthy - but only to a point.

"You're facing an uphill battle," he said. "The place is falling down around your ears. We're here to help you do it, but not on our backs."

"This is a mess," another woman agreed. "We think Keystone is in a turnaround situation. We have business people in here who have done what you're doing. We're offering to help."

Keystone citizen Michael Shilling urged his neighbors to give McCarthy "a little more of a chance." But decreases in night skiing hours, he said, concern him.

"Even though night skiing does not fill the lift lines, I think it fills beds," he said. "I don't think people are ever going to ski 11.5 hours, but when they're planning their trip, they like to have that option. That is the one differentiation we have."

McCarthy said he plans to watch the impact of night skiing reductions very carefully.

"We made this decision, which was quantitative," he said. "The qualitative side of it, I want to get a feel for."

McCarthy also said Vail Resorts won't neglect the resort's real estate. He speculated that Intrawest, now partnering with Vail Resorts to develop parts of Keystone, may not be involved much longer.

"I think you'll see Intrawest leave," he said. "One of the things we think about is how do we move Keystone forward as Vail Resorts comes in and takes over development from Intrawest? I think that, from my standpoint, is a very exciting thing."

Residents said they're also concerned about a recent increase in the Keystone Conference Center surcharge from 4.7 to 5.9 percent. The charge is assessed on resort lodging, restaurant and retail sales.

The center, McCarthy said, is at once a vital part of the resort's success and a financial drain.

"Conference centers don't make money," he said. "As a snapshot, they lose $500,000 to $1 million a year - that's standard. Conference is a money loser, but it fills beds and generates a business flow through those short periods of time when nothing goes on. It helps keep this wheel turning."

Nevertheless, local attorney Dave Helmer said, the original 4.7 percent surcharge was not intended to pay operating costs.

"The 4.7 was for building only and now they're changing it," he said. "More times than not, Keystone will say one thing, which will be a lie as opposed to what's in writing. I know that because I sue Keystone regularly."

Yet another citizen suggested Keystone residents again pursue the idea of incorporation, a plan that fell to the wayside when Vail Resorts stepped in.

"It's actually something we've talked about," McCarthy said. "I think we need to understand the issues before moving forward."

Jane Reuter can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at jreuter@summitdaily.com
I can't believe that bit about "I'm a straight shooter. Let's get the media out of here...." What WAS he afraid of? What would McCarthy have done "behind closed doors," with no public record?

I wonder if Vail Resorts is familiar with the parable of killing the golden goose....

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #8 of 11
I skied Keystone this past Thursday. It was a disappointing day. After all the snow I was expecting more terrain open. They had no more open than the previous weekend. I thought that with it being a holiday weekend that Keystone would pull out all the stops and open all that conditions would allow. After the dismal year that they had last year it was an opportunity to show what a fun mountain it can be. Instead it was rope after rope after rope. :

Then the news that they will be cutting back on night skiing and possibly eliminating lift access at night from Mountain House Base. Lots of folks like Bteddy choose Keystone just because of night skiing. I thought that those destination skiers are just the folks that the ski areas are desperately trying to attract?

Thursday I did call the marketing department and left a message sharing my concerns and disappointment. No return call of course.

The Tax is also a concern. If you eat or stay at Keystone the taxes are now over 10% of your bill.
post #9 of 11
Thanks Bob,

I'm not one that reads the news much. I'd rather be happy!! Anyway, I probably would have never seen that if you had not of posted it. Hmmm.. That darn name McCarthy, Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't it the same spelling as the one we had trouble with in wanting to root out communism in the US????
post #10 of 11
I don't know about Keystone/Breck but I have worked at an area that was purchased by first one skiing conglomerate, then another. Each time things seemed to get worse.(sorry about that, hope it doesn't happen there). As I recall, our new general manager's talk to us sounded pretty similar to your's. Lot's of implied issues that need fixing but little that is encouraging. What they don't like to talk about is the load for leveraging these purchases. If your area's experience turns out to be anything like what I observed it will be rounds of cost-cutting, pennypinching and seemingly inexplicable acts which appear to have as their only possible explanation the terrible imperative to make the profitability quotas. Spreadsheets rule. What this guy may be unintentionally communicating is his overriding concern: "how am I possibly gonna accomplish all these things that need doing and still make those payments?"

A bit simplistic, perhaps, and Vail may turn out to be a very different master. Personally I hate these lateral acquisitions. The ski business can't be a very profitable investment anyway and what can buying up the competion be good for except removing the competition? I just see them stifling the healthy growth of the sport and ratcheting the price of the sport up beyond the reach of more and more families.

[ December 04, 2002, 08:34 PM: Message edited by: arcadie ]
post #11 of 11
Can't be profitable??? Care to know what the corporate officers make in salary and bonuses??

That's what really torques me about the "American" mentality. Officers here in America have had this mentality of needing to make 200 to 1 shoved in their tails so long that it tickles their tonsils!! Most corporate officers in other nations make about 20 to 1. In my opinion that's still high, but acceptable.

On an interesting note. I wonder what kind of salary (and bonus) cuts the officers at United are willing to take.

Another example is the officers at Qwest. Or a prime example that I was really close to was the CFO at a company I worked for when I first relocated to Co. He was pulling close to 350k with an additional 150-200k bonus. He was vacationing app. 3 months out of the year. Shame but the company was sued by one of their contractors for failure to pay . . . 175k.

Go figure!!
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