Originally Posted by PaulR
Then again nobody charges $75 a day for somewhere to ride your snowmobile or makes you pay $400 a night for lodging after you are done.
I aggree it is a combination of factors - less partricipation by kids but also I believe the economics is having a hand in it. I know personally families that no longer ski simply because of the cost. It is only going to get worse. Parents more concerned with paying for kids rising college tuiition.
My opinion is the industry cannot sustain itself in the long run and eventually will be in trouble. The numbers will not reverse. Once again the main players do not care. They will come out ahead regardless of the future. The players are in it for the short term gains - not the sport. I get the sense that many here think the main players are interested in the viability of the sport. That was true in the beginning but now that real estate is the prime profit driver that is no longer the case.
Personally I think the $$ issue isn't the real story. When we moved to New England 17 years ago there were still some remaining feeder hills. I mean one's local to people's back yard .. within 5 -15 miles of suburban towns with a rope or two, maybe even a short chair. All closed because they couldn't make it on the trickle of patrons.
Next up are the small-sized hills with a small lodge and snow making capability. Think Wachusett and Neshoba around Boston. Blue Hills is between the back yard bumps and Neshoba - it has been bankrupt 3 or 4 times in 15 years - just barely survives when open. No frills, couple of lifts, snow making, 20 mins from downtown Boston, 20 mins from most suburbs around Boston. Still - no go.
You can't just explain this away by money and real estate. Developers have turned to real estate in an effort to create a destination where people want to go. Obviously there is little or no attraction to skiing "in the back yard". Skiing ain't sexy without bump runs, fireplaces, and wild partying - right?
Even "mid-sized" hills (for New England) like Mt. Abram in ME survive because there is housing and a small town around the area. It's actually a fun hill, but they struggle also. Just skiing, racing, and not much else -simple bar in a simple lodge (hut). An investment banker and his wife from NYC decide to live the "simple life" when he bought it out of bankruptcy. Not sure how simple their life is, but they have managed to keep it open - barely.
Go big or stay home seems to be the rule for skiing.
Even in Colorado where I grew up, the hills of my youth that didn't eventually develop the "extras" went belly up too. Exceptions being A-Basin and Loveland.
Bachelor, Baker, and Crystal in PNW have avoided "development", but have pop centers/vacation homes to draw from. Same for Stevens.
It's a fine line to pull off a decent hill with a variety of terrain that keeps 'em coming back. Too far to drive and they don't come .. not enough terrain and they don't come. Long drive ... need overnight.
We're not talking about an old beat up truck on blocks and a rope any more. People want to eat up terrain -lots of it. Terrain and lifts are expensive to amortize.
Part of the answer is figuring how to get people off their lazy, dead butts in the middle of winter.