Hi Ski2XS--welcome back! I look forward to meeting you too. I'll try to find that new restaurant one of these days....
It is true that the Buddy Pass is about the best deal in skiing in a long time. It's a fair argument that it may also have ruined skiing in Summit County, by overcrowding the slopes.
But I remember the days before Vail bought Keystone/Breckenridge/A-Basin. I worked at Keystone, and we were very happy to be NOT Vail, and to be competing with them. We recognized that Vail did what they did very well, and we prided ourselves in doing what WE did very well. Each of the Summit County areas competed against the others, but they also formed a great marketing alliance in "Ski the Summit." "Ski the Summit" tickets allowed skiing at any of the four Summit County resorts. That was a great opportunity for guests staying in Summit County. But it's gone now.
When Vail bought all of Summit County except Copper Mountain, things changed. Of course, they were required to sell off A-Basin, as a token gesture to avoid creating a monopoly (but they sold it one of their development partners). But suddenly, each of the Vail resorts--Keystone, Breckenridge, Vail, and Beaver Creek--became like part of the lineup at General Motors. I can't really blame them--it makes sense to position their resorts in different niches, so "Cadillac" doesn't compete directly with "Chevrolet."
But it sure took the fun out of working for a resort that was no longer even ALLOWED to be competitive! It was more than obvious that Keystone was the unwanted step child of the family. They'll deny it up and down, but every year, we saw costs cut to the bone, and corners deeply cut as well. Employee morale sank, and no amount of "telling them to remember to be happy" could help. It is an enormous credit to the loyal Keystone employees that they have managed to remain as motivated as they have, under the circumstances. I will admit that, after 15 years or so, I wasn't one of them. I left, four seasons ago, along with a number of other long-time instructors.
I had no ill will toward Keystone, and still have a warm place in my heart for it. It was a fine resort. But I found it incredibly frustrating and difficult to continue to do my best for people, while having to apologize for "my" company so very, very often. I'm sorry you couldn't get service for your lodging problems. I'm sorry there is no toilet paper in the bathrooms. I'm sorry Mozart hasn't been groomed in three days. I'm sorry--no, they don't use the "powdermaker" attachments on the groomers anymore. I'm sorry that lift isn't running, while the line for this one is 45 minutes long. I'm sorry you've had such a lousy day, and now you are waiting in this 30 minute line in your car so you can PAY to LEAVE! (Yes, it's true--they actually charge you to go home if you're in the pay parking lots--talk about making a lasting last impression!) You've been waiting HOW long for the bus? I'm sorry.... Makes it hard to do your best at serving guests, when you feel that your efforts are undermined by poor service all around you! And it really hurt to receive letter after letter from my regular skiing clients, telling me, with regrets, that they were going to try "other" resorts this season. I saw some people almost in tears because they had been coming to Keystone for decades, and wanted to be loyal, but they just couldn't continue to ignore the obvious....
Yes, despite these things, many people still continued to have a great time at Keystone. They still do. It's a good resort! And it has better skiing than many people realize. But it seems that every season, something else gets cut.
It occurs to me that there are two possible solutions to the problem of not enough people buying your product: make the product better, or cut costs to offset the decreased revenues. It is unfortunate that the latter seems to be the first and only option so many resorts apparently consider. "They're not buying it. Let's make it worse...." Am I alone in questioning the logic?
Oh well. We're off to a great start this season. The snow is great, and resorts are breaking records. Maybe a good season is all it will take to turn things around for Keystone. I hope so.
|"You need to understand, if this was an oil tanker, I can't turn it around in 100 yards," [Breckenridge/Keystone COO] McCarthy said.
(from an article in today's Summit Daily News
, reporting on a meeting of disillusioned Keystone employees and residents with Roger McCarthy, COO of Breckenridge and now, as of Vail's firing of all of Keystone's upper management, of Keystone as well).
I've got news for you, Mr. McCarthy: Keystone is NOT an oil tanker. And it used to be headed in the right direction.... It doesn't take any time at all to decide to keep the lights on as long as before, to fill the tissue dispensers in the lift lines, to send the groomers out, to upgrade the ski school....
Or maybe it WILL take a while to return Keystone to its former glory. But it won't start "turning around" until someone actually turns the wheel!