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Opinions on Summit County (10 years since the buyout!)

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
First let me start by saying. . . I'm BAAaaaack!! I've taken a long leave of absence in order to build my wife a restaurant. I'll take a moment to plug it here!! It's called Plantation House (you ol' timers here will remember that I'm a southern transplant) and it's located in Conifer, Co. at the yellow barn corner on 73. It took every dime I had in savings, but it's open with no outstanding loans whatsoever!!!

It's good to see many of the old familiar handles, Bob Barnes (hope to actually meet you this season and tell Burt I said hello if you see him), Yuki, Lisamarie, Cheap Seats, etc, etc. Even some that have appeared to change . . .Sno*Eagle!!! (I kinda liked the old one, but we won't go back there!!)

Okay, all that said let's get on with the original intent of this post. It's been several years (about 10) since Vail Resorts basically bought out everything in Summit County. Since then lift tix have almost doubled, and as a very recent post here just addressed, night skiing is suffering. I'm wondering how others who are familiar with Summit County both before and after the buyout feel now. Good or bad.


ps dchan, thanks for continuing to have the one of the best sites!! Look for my full support sometime this month. Hopefully I'll be back at the profitable stage instead of being in the red!!!

[ December 01, 2002, 07:28 PM: Message edited by: ski2xs ]
post #2 of 15
Lift tickets doubling?! That's the cheapest skiing in America right now. About 500 bucks for 20 days at Vail and unlimited at A Basin, Breck and Keystone! 5 bucks a day to a serious local. Another $250 gets you Copper. Jeez.
post #3 of 15
how do you get that deal if your not a local
post #4 of 15
The Buddy pass for
Breck,Keystone,and A-Basin is open for anyone. Their are people from around the world who have them. You just need to purchase before the fall deadline.
post #5 of 15
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!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #6 of 15
as usuall mr Bob Barnes well said, I sure hate to see the direction keystone is headed. how can someone get a complaint to roger mccarthy directly even though it probably wont do much good, cant hurt. sure wish they had nite skiing at copper. thanks
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Did McCarthy pilot the Valdez???
post #8 of 15
I don't think it was McCarthy at the wheel, but it sure might have been Adam Aron...
It was a cruise line he was in charge of before coming to Vail. If he had stayed there, maybe he could have wrecked it as well...

Welcome to the "Evil Empire"...
post #9 of 15
Abasin was offering their bonus pass pre-season for $179 which included unlimited skiing at Arapahoe plus 5 tickets to Keystone and Breck, one of which could be used at Vail or Beavercreek. Bummer that deal is gone, its up to a whopping $199 now. [img]tongue.gif[/img]

- Paul

[ December 08, 2002, 07:06 PM: Message edited by: skierpaul ]
post #10 of 15
Originally posted by bteddy:
as usuall mr Bob Barnes well said, I sure hate to see the direction keystone is headed. how can someone get a complaint to roger mccarthy directly even though it probably wont do much good, cant hurt. sure wish they had nite skiing at copper. thanks
(970) 476-5601 this is the corporate number for vail ...I talked with Roger directly who said that things seemed fine to him. He did say they were working on snowmaking. He also said that thier cus service surveys ratings had improved over last year. Call him, let him know your thoughts.
post #11 of 15
Well said Bob!!. They probably ought to look into 'The Ranks' for some of their leadership if they want to have four success stories. .... But the problem lies more with the Denver area(I like to call it the Rocky Mountain Slums). -- It seems that they are merely fulfilling the never ending need for more skier space in the Summit county area. If people leave the area and are replaced by other paying customers, I can't see how a bunch of bottom-line Bean Counters could see a problem as existing. ... I plan to vote with my own dollars and go elsewhere, but I am willing to bet there are plenty of 'slum' transplants that are willing to take the place I leave open, without the slightest wimper.

Sorry to take such a negative stance, but the hidden message here is probably that the public should have much more imput in how business ventures are run on public lands. This corporate bullying of rights that are granted to them, smells a lot like a little problem called Enron down in Texas.

Just $0.02 from an old country boy!!!! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #12 of 15
scroll down for letters to the editors


Folks are letting thier feelings known, but not sure if Roger is getting message.

Any Keystone employees here? Would love to hear your thoughts. Is anyone listening?
post #13 of 15
I called Kathy Stitcher the other day, just as bob barnes said she was very pleasant but not in a decision making capacity , what she did do for me was have chuck can't remember his last name as he called me on my cell today & I coudn't write it down, anyway he is in a higher capacity, he was pleasant but the story line he was selling was that the economy was in the toilet & keystone had lost 12 million dollars last season & they basically are going to cut cost to offset the loss, their main priority is better snowmaking & building a reservoir on top of the mountain to feed the snow guns, I asked him why if they are not goin to run the peru lift at nite only the gondola that they still had to close at 8 pm instead of 9pm like in the past, the hours used to be till 9pm weekday 10pm fri & sat nite, then I asked him since you cut out sun mon tue were there any thoughts about about staying open till 9pm on fri & sat, I was nite skiing the last 2 seasons when they cut back to 8pm 7 nites a week & watched as they turned away skiers , stood in 30 minute lines to ride the slow gondola, lets see they cut out several workers, running only the river run base, cut out 3 valuable nites of skiing for me at least, after all that they can't even keep the lifts open for 1 hr more 2 days a week, that would be 4 hrs in my ski week, I think they are trying to cut out nite skiing completely, why else would you close so early on fri & sat nite, I think to keep people from driving from denver & surrounding areas to lower the # of skiers so they can close it, can you think of any other activity that closes at the same time on fri & sat as they do on wed, he flat out told me that nite skiing is a loser, what it sounds like to me is they will do okay this season because people won't know what to expect but I feel they will surely lose in the future, if I had known before nov 15th what I know now, thats before I bought airline & lift tickets for 4 people, I would be skiing in utah this season, thanks kima for the phone # I will be making another call not that it will do much good but not calling will surely not do any good.
thanks bteddy

hows the moral go fool me once shame on you fool me twice shame on me
post #14 of 15
Hi Bt,

Sorry to hear of your plight with the so-called management at Keystone. I wouldn't put much faith in those numbers he quoted you on loses. ....I recall a wise statistics professor once saying that all you had to do was tell him what the numbers were supposed to mean before he worked them, and you could be assured of getting what you wanted. ...Big corporations massage the numbers for the message they want, and I bet this Chuck guy is just falling in line with the corporate mandate! :

Hope you have a great trip regardless!!!! [img]smile.gif[/img] [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Unfortunatly I feel it's like United. They want to cut costs everywhere except where it would count. . . The millions of dollars that are pumped out each year for the Corporate Officer bonus programs, posh surroundings in the executive offices, months of vacation every year, etc. etc.

Lee Iacocca did a great job of pulling out Mopar. He was the first one in the line to get his pay cut. Now, I realize that he still made a bundle, but at least he was willing to give up a bundle too.

I have to wonder, as United officers were calling for their employees to take pay cuts, how much of a cut they were taking!!

In an economy (even though considered bad by those who profit from saying so) in which several other airlines and ski resorts are NOT in bankruptcy or severe deficits, why a few are.

Hmmmm. . . bad management . . . .maybe????????

Sounds to me as if Mr McCarthy is quite possibly the product of the "good ole' boy" network and not as qualified to be an operations officer as he thinks himself to be. Seems also that Vail Resorts is attempting to run a kind of Disney on Ice. Face it McCarthy, ski areas have been around for more than a half a century. If they were so much of a losing proposition then a long line of Operations Officers before yourself would have figured this out and abandoned the cause years ago. If I were an operations officer and I need to figure out why the company wasn't profitable anymore I'd start by looking at the difference in operations between now and the operations when the company was profitable.

In other words, sometimes it's best to "stick with the one that brung ya'" because that's why people came in the first place. It is truly about the skiing, not the fluff.

[ December 13, 2002, 11:08 AM: Message edited by: ski2xs ]
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