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post #61 of 82
This just in:

3 Colorado ski resorts bracing for layoffs

The Associated Press
Posted: 11/24/2008 12:33:29 PM PST

DENVER—Ski resort workers at three Colorado mountains are bracing for layoffs as a Canadian resort operator says the poor economy will force job cuts. Intrawest Corp. did not say exactly how many jobs will go at its three owned or operated Colorado resorts—Copper Mountain, Steamboat Ski & Resort and Winter Park. But the Vancouver-based resort operator says the drop in business at its resorts is unlike anything it has experienced in recent years.
The company employs 22,000 workers during the peak winter season in Canada and the United States.

Intrawest also operates Canada's Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort, a major venue for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
post #62 of 82
Thread Starter 
I can understand Steamboat laying off already. Being a destination Resort. But, I think Copper and WP sold enough Season Passes to carry them for a while. but, who knows. Maybe their Pass sales are way down. A Brother of an employee of mine just went to work at Copper this month. I hope he doesn't lose his job. I also think the warm weather isn't helping much. Heck, last year this time they had lots of snow didn't they?
post #63 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
I also think the warm weather isn't helping much. Heck, last year this time they had lots of snow didn't they?
Acually, we had very similar conditions at this time last year. The snow didn't start coming until the 2nd week of December.

Yes, these will be interesting times for our many resorts. While cheap passes have been the norm throughout most of this decade, I have to believe the resorts make most their money on tourists and not we daytrippers. Aside from lunch and maybe a couple of emergency purchases on the hill, I don't usually see many of my fellow season pass locals spending large sums on lodging, equipment, lessons....etc. From everything I read locally, reservations are substantially down this year at resorts throughout the state.

Personally, I plan to ski as much as always, unless the weather fails us this year. Cheaper gas should make this season less costly for me than 07/08. I also plan to make my annual trek to Utah (I stay with friends and airfare is still cheap from Denver to SLC). Lastly, I would love to get back to Whistler/Blackcomb this year......but it will be dependent on bonus money and therefore easier to justify in these times.
post #64 of 82
These layoffs are occuring before some of these resorts have even opened. Steamboat opens on Wednesday, I think. I've never seen that happen before. My gut tells me that these have to be pretty drastic cost-cutting measures. If you've ramped up, hired a bunch of seasonal workers to make the place run, then mid season you can lay off some as things start to slow {and you don't need to groom as much, make snow, have a full blown sales and marketing staff, maybe ski school isn't busy with kids....whatever}. These may be year-round employees in management and supervisory jobs, however. Decent salaries and benefits. You need to lay off those jobs to have meaningful cost cutting. If you're in a sales and marketing job, which will hopefully bring in important revenue, maybe you're OK. If you're in a job/functional area where 3 people could possible take on the work of 5 {with reduced numbers}, hope you're one of the three and you're be concerned for the other two. Just my guess.

The destination resort comment is a really good one. They could see the most drastic impact. One thing that's also not helping is that flying has become expensive and a real pain in the neck. My daughter has been training in Summit County for a month. If her duffel and ski bag had both weighed 51 lbs, she was looking at $580 in excess baggage expense on United, the former airline of the US Ski Team. She was just under 50 lbs, with just two pairs of skis. Had to stuff the carry on backpack to make it; a lot of juggling at the airport unscrewing toe pieces, throwing out shampoo, etc. And before we jump on the "ship the skis" bandwagon, check THOSE prices. I just shipped 4 pairs of skis in one package, with no bindings. About 250 miles. With a corporate FedEX account, it was $106. The prices have skyrocketed when fuel did, and have not come down.

As the economy has imploded, the cost of "big" ski vacations look very expensive. Sounds like a tough equation to me. At one point the western resorts did a pretty strong spring break business. Not so much anymore. The beach destinations are a fraction of the cost.

I hope that the bigger resorts get real creative, and attract plenty of skiers. I hate to think about season's pass prices down the road. I hope I'm overreacting.
post #65 of 82
maybe it's just the media but the market is bipolar these days

Wish I could figure this out because I cashed out and avoided some of this in Sept and every time I buy back in I get punished

But anyway, yeah maybe there's hope. I think, generally the economy moves a lot slower than the stock market, but people feel the stock market and sometimes that can lead sentiment.

Anything to get the cash back out there investing and spending is got to be good news. Maybe socializing C is the way to go ...
post #66 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Muleski View Post

The destination resort comment is a really good one. They could see the most drastic impact. One thing that's also not helping is that flying has become expensive and a real pain in the neck. My daughter has been training in Summit County for a month. If her duffel and ski bag had both weighed 51 lbs, she was looking at $580 in excess baggage expense on United, the former airline of the US Ski Team. She was just under 50 lbs, with just two pairs of skis.
Are you serious? You could get a round-trip coach ticket for less that that, and I guarantee the "average" weight of a passenger is more than 102lbs of combined skis and duffel. Not to mention that the skis and duffel don't care if they are packed in tightly to one another or if they have fresh air to breathe: you can probably fit 5x as many of those items into a cargo bin than you can people into coach. The extra charge should have been, at most, $100.

And airlines wonder why they are struggling? If we had a decent train system in this country (similar to the quality and speed of Japan's) we would see a bunch of airlines go under, and would see the remaining airlines shape up to win back customer loyalty.
post #67 of 82
100% serious. Their charge for being over 50 lbs is $125, per bag, each way. At that time it was $25 and $15 for your first two checked bags {I think that's going up}. $580. The ticket, by the way was $319, round trip. It makes no sense at all.

We don't pack this way, but many in the past have carried a ski bag, a boot bag, a checked duffel, and carry-on. The deal with United now is that you can ski check a boot bag, and a ski bag and have them count as a single checked bag, but the combined weight has to be 50 lbs., or less.

Now it gets even better. Our kids have flown all around the world with their ski stuff, and they have this routine down. I asked my daughter about the skis. She had just taken the same bag, same two pairs of skis, and same poles to Chile in September. It has never weighed over 50 lbs. She weighed it on an accurate scale at home, and it was fine.

She has eliminated a rolling duffel, as it weighs 12 lbs emply, and now uses a very light weight Patagonia duffel. Weighed that 3-4 times. Weighed both at the airport on a scale that appears to be accurate as well. To be sure, we weighed them at an empty station at the airline next door {early morning and they hadn't opened} Ski bag was about 47 lbs. Duffel, 48-49lbs. on all of those scales.

She goes to check in and the ski bag gets weighed. 52 lbs. The agent isn't concerned, but her supervisor, looking over her shoulder, doesn't like it. Proceeds to weigh it at another station. 47 lbs. Tries a third, 49 lbs. At the fourth, it's 53 lbs. She says "it's overweight". Does the same thing with the duffel. It first weighs 52 lbs. She says, "I can tell that this weighs at least 55 lbs." Proceeds directly to the fourth stop of the ski bag, and the duffel weighs 56 lbs. She responds "told you." At this point, my daughter looks back at me, as in "this isn't going too well."

I walk up and calmly ask what the situation is, and the supervisor explains her story. I calmly respond that we have some experience with this, and that we also have concern that the scales may not be that accurate. I also suggest that we, if needed, will lighten up the bags, to drop the weight, by transferring stuff to her carry-on. I don't see what that does. The same 5 lbs is going on the plane. The agent says, no need to do that. You're fine. The supervisor overules her. I pull my posi-driver and zip lock bags out of my jacket, and we start taking toepieces off the skis, etc. We throw out all of the "heavy" stuff in her bag that can be re-purchased 5 hours later in Denver. I keep my cool, somehow.

After my daughter is on the flight, and this storm has passed, I find the guy in charge of United at the airport. I explain that over the past 30 years, I have flown over 2 million miles on his airline, and most of the experiences were good ones. He checks. It's almost 3 million. Of course, since my daughter is 18+ with her own FF account number, that does her no good. This guy apologizes left and right, and explains that United is doing anything possible to hold down their fares. AND, he lets it slip that they think their revenue from baggage will increase from something like $20 million to $100 million plus to enable them to be competitive on the fares. There's "a lot of pressure to hit those numbers." Very obvious shell game, but I didn't know the numbers. I also now am firmly convinced that those scales aren't being regulated as they should be. I was calm, but furious.

Practically speaking, this is going to be a very significant issue for any older ski racers, who travel with a lot of equipment. It's going to be almost impossible, at any cost. Last year, the last spring series of the year was as usual at Mammoth. It included all four events, which is unusual. Than means 6 pairs of skis, three pairs of poles. Two roll-up ski bags. Last year you paid. This year, most airlines won't take them. I tried to do the math with United, and that extra ski bag, over 50 lbs, would have cost something like $550 by itself! Like the sport doesn't have enough problems related to the cost!

There are a lot of college ski teams, and ski academy groups form around the country training in Summit County this week. Most, from what I understand, have driven vans out full of luggage, equipment and skis, to avoid the air expenses and hassle. For some of these groups, that's about 4000 miles of driving. Not inexpensive.

I've seen a lot of posts about shipping skis, and air travel with skis, and many {most} of the posters are not current on the info. As an example, I sold a pair of skis recently and the buyer asked me to NOT remove the bindings. So I shipped across the country, with the bindings: $72. I see people quoting that they have always shipped skis for $25-30. Not anymore. But it will be cheaper than these onerous airline charges.

So having this pain in the a** on top of other issues just doesn't help the destination resort skier. It may really open up a niche for high end rentals at those resorts. I wrote the CEO of United a very calm and logical letter, now almost a month ago, and of course have heard absolutely nothing back.

I have to think that when you start thinking about that big family ski vacation, this airline "issue" combined with the lower cost of gas, may have some bearing on destination ski vacations. There are also a lot of great warm weather spots where you can go for less money, and pack a very small duffel with some T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops. There are a lot of driveable ski destinations for many of us in the U.S. I can remember hearing a few savvy ski CEO's speak to the fact that their real competition and threats were not other ski resorts, but other vacation and recreation opportunities outside of skiing. I can charter a great sailboat for a week in either the Virgin Islands, or the coast of Maine for a lot less than I could take a family of 5 skiing for a week in Jackson Hole. In this economy, I will likely be doing none of the above.

I don't know what we should expect from an industry where bankruptcy seems to have been a constant strategy in any 5 year business plan {SouthWest excluded}. Never ceases to amaze me. The comment about a better rail system is a great one.

Sorry about the long winded rant. Though some might appreciate the details.
post #68 of 82
That AP article on Intrawest layoffs isn't really up to date... Intrawest already did the huge round of layoffs last Tuesday, they were expected to announce publicly on Weds. I don't really feel like finding articles, but if you search the Steamboat pilot, it's in there... I don't know that they ever publicly released the exact numbers, but I will tell you it was a pretty large number across all of Intrawest corp, I don't know exactly which resorts were affected but I do know that Steamboat had layoffs.
post #69 of 82
It was like 14 people in Steamboat. Here's the other side of this conversation - skiing incredible powder is life affirming and I think about it ALL year. We don't know how long we are going to live - you could die tomorrow. Do you want to go to your death only wishing you had indulged your annual ski fantasy? Close your eyese for a minute and think about the feel, smell and touch. Go skiing, spend reasonably - roll a fatty and relax. Wake up do it again.
post #70 of 82
a big factor in my not buying skis at the end of last season is that, being in the mid-atlantic (and not willing to spend 5+ hours driving to WV for mediocre snow and small hills), I have to fly pretty much anywhere I'd want to ski. It ends up being much cheaper for me to simply demo skis (at ~$50/day) than pay the $175 each way that United wants.

That's 7 days of demo skis! Hell, this way I also have a much bigger quiver, I just have to show up at the demo shop early enough to get good skis.

As the main airline into Denver, United is going to have to change this fee or CO is going to get pissed.

Also, I still find it incredibly annoying that my 155lbs + 51lb bag has to pay $125 more to get on the plane than a 300lb +49lb bag passenger does. Really? I know there's safety concerns with "heavy" baggage, but still...

EDIT: Southwest charges $50 per oversized bag, with the following about skis/ski bags:
Snow or water skis are accepted when enclosed in a suitable container. Southwest Airlines provides free plastic bags for ski equipment. These bags are used to prevent the various components of ski equipment from becoming separated. The skis will be conditionally accepted unless they are being transported in a hard, plastic case or standard ski bag. Snow ski equipment consists of one pair each of skis, ski poles, and boots. Water-ski equipment includes one pair of skis and one life preserver or vest. Snowboard equipment includes one snowboard and one pair of boots.

When substituting ski equipment for a free bag, Southwest Airlines allows up to two bags (containing one set of snow skis, ski poles, and ski boots) to count as one item, even if they are packed and tagged separately. (overweight charges may still apply.)
post #71 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post
Are you serious? You could get a round-trip coach ticket for less that that, and I guarantee the "average" weight of a passenger is more than 102lbs of combined skis and duffel. Not to mention that the skis and duffel don't care if they are packed in tightly to one another or if they have fresh air to breathe: you can probably fit 5x as many of those items into a cargo bin than you can people into coach. The extra charge should have been, at most, $100.

And airlines wonder why they are struggling? If we had a decent train system in this country (similar to the quality and speed of Japan's) we would see a bunch of airlines go under, and would see the remaining airlines shape up to win back customer loyalty.
+1 on the US getting a better rail system for passengers. Amtrack is a pile usually and the prices are higher then a kite on many cross country travels. I know a couple times I checked into it Amtrack cost me the same as flying or few bucks cheaper. Either way it wasn't worth taking the train.
post #72 of 82
the us is a little bigger than most of the countries that have great rail systems.
post #73 of 82
yes we're more spread out ... we could do a better job of urban planning generally. It would save energy and money too. But it's somewhat of a cultural thing here too that folks want a big spread and more space. Wasteful of resources though!
post #74 of 82
Not that our rail system is good at all even where it's densely populated - from DC to Boston, the Jetblue fare is $178 for the cheapest flight round trip (for a friday/saturday in late march). Total air travel time (out+back, ignoring security etc.) = 3 hours 15 minutes.

Cheapest Amtrak is $174... and takes 15 hours 45 minutes. Acela is $298 and takes 13 hours 6 minutes.

Even when you add in showing up 2 hours late at the airport + 2 hour delays each way... you're still getting there faster, and for approximately the same cost. Of course, if you're bringing a LOT of baggage, that could easily change on the cost side.
post #75 of 82
Yep, the "rail system" here gets no attention at all, it seems. In CA, a $10B bond measure was barely passed to develop high-speed rail between SF and LA, a trip which would take a couple-few hours; it was opposed by a few towns in the Bay Area, most notably Atherton, which has a median income so large it cannot be calculated by human mathematics; the project stipulates that additional public and private funds are required, in addition to the 10 billion, and is likely to take years to begin.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_High_Speed_Rail
post #76 of 82
CSX, who owns the rail near me and most of Mass (and a great stock recently btw along with other railroads) has an ad out "1 gallon of fuel takes 1 ton of freight 400+x miles {from Baltimore to Boston}." Interesting to know how they came up with that ... but anyway if it's even in the realm of discussion it's clear trains have a fuel efficiency advantage over cars and trucks in orders of magnitude.

{goddam had to Google it} ... Link shows this to be true.

Quote:
The claim on the CSX commerical is accurate and can be supported by operational data reported by CSX on their most recent SEC Form 8K filed 1/22/08.

From the 4th Quarter 2007 report, CSX moved 253 billion revenue ton-miles of goods in the 12 months ending 12/31/07. In that same period CSX operations consumed 569 million gallons of diesel #2 fuel. Taking the net ton-miles and dividing by the fuel consumed (253 billion / 569 million) you get 444 ton-miles per gallon of fuel. Stated another way, one gallon of fuel moved one ton 444 miles. That is pretty close to the 423 mile claim in the ad.

Data reported by other railroads is similar.
Everyone poo poos the idea of rail because of the "subsidy" but ya know what - think of the tremendous subsidies car companies have with the interstate highway system over the years. Literally trillions of dollars of recurring costs ...

I'm with ya (particularly being on the east coast) on expanding rail ....
post #77 of 82
CSX has been playing those ads as well as "One CSX train takes 220 trucks off the road, keeping traffic down and keeping you safer" (paraphrased) here in DC/Baltimore too.

Of course, we get lots of odd advertising here in DC. The Red Line metro often gets ads clearly targeted at congress - "The Joint Strike Fighter, America's answer in troubling times", tons of Chevron "We're saving the environment, really!" ads, and lots more defense advertisements. It bothers me that these companies think these ads are worthwhile expenditures - not because they're spending the money stupidly, but that congress might actually be influenced by them. Yikes.
post #78 of 82
So the team sports franchises are lowering their ticket prices, will ski resorts do the same, ever?
post #79 of 82
I wouldn't be surprised to see all sorts of deals. I'm not in the business, but it seems as though a lot of the operating costs are fixed, in terms of not fluctuating based on the number of skiers on the hill. Lifts still run, grooming takes place, snow is blown at night, the patrol is staffed, shuttle buses run, utilities in the lodges are the same, etc.

To maximize not just revenue, but returns, you clearly need more skiers. The incremental dollars that come into the register are critical. It likely gets even more critical, when you think of how the "regulars" and "locals" do, or more likely do NOT spend money on the mountain. I bet it also has real variation based on what percentage of your skiers are skiing with a season's pass.

My hunch is that we'll see all sorts of deals, promotions and discounts emerge, should the skier days not track like the various areas need them to as the season unfolds. I'm quite surprised at the number of areas that have pushed up the day ticket price in these times. Perhaps that pricing was set based on mid summer fuel and utility costs? If the number of skier days is on track, probably no price cuts.

If I were running this railroad {no pun intended based on the prior posts}, I'd be looking at my marketing and sales people to do whatever it takes to get bodies on the hill, if needed. That's based on my assumption that the incremental $$$ are all higher margin, and that these folks will buy cheeseburgers, coffee, goggles, T-shirts, and maybe more. They may keep my ski school in business. If you give a little on ticket price, you can probably gain elsewhere. Just my guess.

If things start slow, I bet the price cuts follow.
post #80 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Muleski View Post
I wouldn't be surprised to see all sorts of deals. I'm not in the business, but it seems as though a lot of the operating costs are fixed, in terms of not fluctuating based on the number of skiers on the hill. Lifts still run, grooming takes place, snow is blown at night, the patrol is staffed, shuttle buses run, utilities in the lodges are the same, etc.

To maximize not just revenue, but returns, you clearly need more skiers. The incremental dollars that come into the register are critical. It likely gets even more critical, when you think of how the "regulars" and "locals" do, or more likely do NOT spend money on the mountain. I bet it also has real variation based on what percentage of your skiers are skiing with a season's pass.

My hunch is that we'll see all sorts of deals, promotions and discounts emerge, should the skier days not track like the various areas need them to as the season unfolds. I'm quite surprised at the number of areas that have pushed up the day ticket price in these times. Perhaps that pricing was set based on mid summer fuel and utility costs? If the number of skier days is on track, probably no price cuts.

If I were running this railroad {no pun intended based on the prior posts}, I'd be looking at my marketing and sales people to do whatever it takes to get bodies on the hill, if needed. That's based on my assumption that the incremental $$$ are all higher margin, and that these folks will buy cheeseburgers, coffee, goggles, T-shirts, and maybe more. They may keep my ski school in business. If you give a little on ticket price, you can probably gain elsewhere. Just my guess.

If things start slow, I bet the price cuts follow.
I think you are correct in the logic Muleski. I would suspect that a lot of the raised ticket prices were part of the general business failure to realize the full extent of the economic meltdown and that so much discretionary spending in recent years had been fuelled by the housing ATM (and of course the general abject misunderstanding of the difference between credit and income that this led to!)

I also expect that as teh season progresses we will see all sorts of additional deals. Even where a large part of the income has been secured upfront by pass deals there will be a pressing need to squeeze as much incremental cash as possible out of locals/pass holders who are not normally the primary daily revenue stream in order to keep the lights on
post #81 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmblur View Post
Not that our rail system is good at all even where it's densely populated - from DC to Boston, the Jetblue fare is $178 for the cheapest flight round trip (for a friday/saturday in late march). Total air travel time (out+back, ignoring security etc.) = 3 hours 15 minutes.

Cheapest Amtrak is $174... and takes 15 hours 45 minutes. Acela is $298 and takes 13 hours 6 minutes.

Even when you add in showing up 2 hours late at the airport + 2 hour delays each way... you're still getting there faster, and for approximately the same cost. Of course, if you're bringing a LOT of baggage, that could easily change on the cost side.
Ha! That is hilarious: I had no idea the rail system in the States was THAT bad! Then again, my wife took Amtrak from Oregon to San Diego and said it was possibly the worst experience of her life. She grew up in Japan, so she is spoiled with reliable train service.

The equivalent distance on the Nozomi Shinkansen would be from Tokyo to Okayama. The traveling time for this distance is around 3 hours and 45 minutes, ticket is $240 or so round-trip. If you want to take the slightly slower Hikari Shinkansen (trains run the same speed, but it makes a few more stops) you can probably drop $50 from your ticket and add 45 minutes to the travel time. Plus, no security, and the stations are right downtown, which saves you additional hours over taking a flight. Not to mention that a Shinkansen trip is so much more comfortable than being crammed into coach class on a plane.

Japan is much more mountainous that the costal strip between Boston and DC. If they can get it right, why can't we? As Tom Friedman noted in his most recent book (he was referring to a new train station in Germany): " if you walk into (the new German station, sorry I can't remember the name) and compare it to Penn Station, you would assume the United States LOST WWII".
post #82 of 82
I saw this on my local cable news channel in Albany, NY yesterday.


Poor economy may help local ski industry

Updated: 11/25/2008 06:35 AM

By: Ryan Burgess





PITTSFIELD, MA - "For approximately $300, you get a season pass and when you start thinking about that, if you go to a top notch resort, it's $50 or $60 a day," said skier Frank Rizzo.

Wanting to save a little money this ski season is one reason Rizzo is skiing locally. It may be a consequence of the poor economy, but some ski resorts in the northeast are already benefiting.

"We're 20 percent up in our season pass purchases to this date. I'm thinking the fact that we have a mountain full of snow is helping that, but even with the ski sale that we had back in October, we sold more season passes that weekend and we didn't have any snow on the ground then," said Bousquet Ski Area snow sports director Cindy Bartlett.



Poor economy may help local ski industry
Ski season is less than a week old, but there are already some clear indications that the poor economy may actually be helping local ski resorts. Our Ryan Burgess talked to officials at two popular ski destinations to find out more.




Because of the weak economy, more skiers are choosing to stay close to home this season. This past weekend, Jiminy Peak in Hancock saw 250 percent more business than they've ever had for a weekend before Thanksgiving.

"I think there probably is going to be a likelihood of people staying back here instead of going out west because we've gotten some feedback that the Colorado resorts are having a real reduction in their bookings," said Jiminy Peak owner Brian Fairbank.

That may be bad news for skiing out west, but here on the East Coast, it already means a big boost for business.

"When you come from New York and you've skied where I have skied, you're looking for value nowadays, especially being retired," said Rizzo.

"I think the truth is right now, there are signs to say we should be encouraged and I think we need to go out and seize opportunities to say, how can we maximize our revenues in these times," said Fairbank.

Jiminy's hotel bookings are already 25 percent ahead of their best year ever. And at Bousquet, season pass sales are also outpacing last years.
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