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Wow! Privates can be pricey!

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
As I said in a previous post, I haven't taken a private lesson in about 10 years, so I really had little idea of what they cost. Yesterday I was checking out the JH page to see if they were building anything this summer, and ran into the ski school page. WOW! A private full day is $435 (with early tram ride, $415 without). So that got me wondering and I checked SchiSchule Lech for comparison, as that is the other place I would be likely to take one. A private there is ATS 2,519 or 183 Euros. I think that's about $200. It may not be apples to apples though as it says you will receive a minimum of 4 hrs. instruction. (At JH a 4hr. lesson is $330). Finally, I was thinking maybe these places are charging a premium as they are fairly exclusive destination resorts, so I checked my home hill, Okemo. Suprise... it's the priciest of them all 7hrs is $455 ($490 if you request an instructor), 4 hrs is $230/255. I suppose that a place like Aspen or Deer Valley could be more expensive, and there must be some that are cheaper too.

Well, that's about it. I think it's intreresting that Lech is the cheapest of trhe three, and I could be wrong, but I'll bet their instructors get the most money. If it's true that you guys are making less money than the Fry guy at McDaniel's, it may be time to strike or something. (I'd love to see you guys clomping around in front of the lodge with signs demanding better pay).

Oh yeah, adding a couple people to your Private does improve the situation a lot. In Lech, it's less than $20 to add another person to the private, so it get's pretty reasonable once you add a couple people.
post #2 of 30
Thread Starter 
Oh yeah, re: the tipping etiquette thread, I wonder how this works in Austria. We discovered halfway through our trip that we were grossly over-tipping at our meals. It's already included, and if you get exceptional service, you give 5% (10% if they really went all out, like in the Hotel Post). We had been throwing down 20% at the drop of a hat. What do you think is appropriate for the instructors there?
post #3 of 30
the privates i looked into in summit county were in the same ballpark. i start hearing things like "400 dollars," I really have to check myself. i was told also that for considerably less, a group lesson might be a way to go, as that time of the year (spring), groups were sometimes just three or four people.
this addresses a recent thread on BECOMING BETTER SKIERS, re taking lessons.
post #4 of 30
It's not the price, is the format.

I think a private lesson can be fine if you have a specific purpose - "I'm not quite getting releasing my downhill ski, let's work on this today".

But to simply show up and say, "Watch me ski, tell me what I"m doing wrong...", I think this is a waste. For something like this, a 3 day lesson is all that's really going to help.
post #5 of 30
Thread Starter 
Do you mean a three day group? Or three days of privates? Or more like a clinic?
post #6 of 30
You said it. ask how much of that goes to the instructor and then wonder why the instructors don't revolt?

Canyons was 435 or somewhere around there. That was 1-2 people for an all day. 3-5 people the price went to 495 I think. No difference if you request a specific instructor but the instructor got a bigger slice when requested.

As far as I'm concerned semiprivates are the way to go. get someone that can ski all the same terrain (your buddies are even better because then you get to ski together and get lessons ) The other advantage of skiing with your buddies is after the lesson when you ski together, you can watch each other using what you learned together. Don't forget to ask the instructor how to assist each other ("what should I be looking for?"). For a spouse or good buddy that skis close to your ability this can be a great gift too. You get the private, and get to ski with your buddy/spouse.
post #7 of 30
Ryan, You are right, taking a lesson during a slower time can result in a private at a group lesson rate. Once at Keystone I got a "group" of one, me. Another time at Beaver Creek I was in a group of 2. <FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Kima (edited July 17, 2001).]</FONT>
post #8 of 30
Thread Starter 
AT Okemo they don't have level 9 group lessons. They have clinics like "Moving from the Blues", "Getting comfortable on Blacks". If they had one that said "Skiing trees non-stop", maybe I'd take one.
post #9 of 30
another way to get good almost privates or privates at the group rate are early bird sessions. At Telluride I really lucked out. I went for the early bird, Special rate (discounted group rate 2hr) and got a 1 on 1. But it get's better! the instructor I happened to get was one of the examiner/trainers.
post #10 of 30
The instructor is not always paid extra for a private lesson.

At our hill, the instructor is only given a small incentive for a "request private". The client has to request that instructor by name.

All other private lessons are given at your normal hourly rate. In Pennsylvania that starts at $6.10 per hour for a new hire... this is the same for group lessons.
post #11 of 30
A level 3 cert at Aspen can top out at about $45/hr if they work enough hours during the season. Someone just getting their level 3, or a L3 new hire at my mountain in southern PA will bring in a whopping $9/hr for group lessons, $15/hr for privates and $25/hr for request privates. The group pay rate goes up over time, but the private/request stays the same. I think our full day private (6 hr) is considerably less expensive, but they don't have anything about the ski school up on the web site right now. My guess is that it's under $300.

When I have been at Whistler with another instructor that I work with, we have taken a half day (3 hr) group lesson. I think it cost about $35 (US$) each. Although their signs only go to level 8, when we sign up, we tell them that we are PSIA level 3s, and if one of their trainers or supervisors would take the lesson out. They were very accomdating, and their head guy (CSIA level 4) took us. And because it was so cheap, we each gave him a $20 tip. I do it because I like to get a different perspective of my skiing once in a while. I did actually learn some interesting stuff, as well as got a good tour of where the best places to ski at Whistler are.
post #12 of 30
do you still have the name of the instructor you had at Whistler?
We will be there next January and I am starting to look into lessons for the group. Looking for semiprivates. Also I may take a private together with my cousin who skis (I think) better than I do.
post #13 of 30
One way to save a LOT of money is to sign up for an afternoon group lesson. Most people take lessons in the morning. Afternoon lessons often have only one-four people, especially for the higher-level lessons.
post #14 of 30
I wish it worked like that everywhere. The problem I always have with groups now is a lot of people over rate themselves (check out Todd's article http://www.sover.net/~murch/skiers_p...themselves.htm )

Often the higher level classes are smaller but they also often end up with some skier that can't keep up. Usually by the time this is figured out it's too late to split the class or there are no other upper level instructors (on private requests or just not avail) It can be a risk but sometimes the risks are worth the reward. Depends on your karma I guess.
post #15 of 30

Harb Ski Systems offers 3 day, "All Mountain Camps". It's a bargain. I went last year and I was in a group of 5. Even though I was in a group, I felt like I was getting private instruction. You get instruction, alignment, and video taping. Most important, my skiing improved.

Check out http://www.harbskisystems.com/events.htm

It's a link to this years camps.

Best to you,
post #16 of 30
Good point, dchan, but given the cost (around $40) of a group lesson, maybe a risk worth taking? Since the groups are usually so small in the afternoon (at least at Keystone, where I taught), you'll still get good individualized instruction and, as Bob B says, if you still aren't happy, you can always go back to the ski school supervisor, let him/her know you were dissatisfied, and you would either get a refund or another lesson free.
post #17 of 30
if you have browsed the site for a while, you will have read that I for one would be one of those that complained and got a voucher for another class. I am also one that would go to the supervisor and commend them for a good class.

Thanks for the tips..
post #18 of 30
Thought I'd chime in on this one. As I have previously posted, here are the "insider" industry standards. Depending on whether the private is "generic' or "request" determines the pay. A generic private, will garner an instructor anywhere from simply his hourly base wage, to a %(anywhere from 20-30%)straight/from cost. A Request will pay from 40% to 70%, with the average at 45%. Factors may vary, some will get their base plus a smaller %, some schools have a matrix based system that increases % based on sales or some hybrid criteria, some may include per heads or generic return to requests or additional hour upgrades. Okemo charging more for requests, says more about staffing levels and net than anything.
Most ski schools derive 15%-20% gross revenue from private sales. A place like Annie at Telluride (dchan, was it John B, Gino or Doug?)does significantly higher than that.
After designing programs for many years, believe me, with the decline in staffing levels, there is virtually little, if any, price resistance to private product. It is a simple case of supply and demand, and ski schools across the country are barely supplying that demand. The pay/retention issue for pros is another rant I won't go into here, but is at the root of the issue.
Ask a pro how often private sales, then kid's programs sales were cut off due to staffing limitations. Ask how often, requests or added hours where denied or rescheduled to times that their clients couldn't accept. It happens all the time. The crisis in staffing is the issue.
Everytime I have raised private prices to reduce the demand (so group lessons were not oversized) there has been little resistance...sometimes I feel I have increased the preceived value quotient and exacerbated the issue.
About 12 seasons ago, I stole the "early bird", "night owl" concept, and many resorts attempt to steer business to those less impacted times through price pointing...it works.
It is a vicous cycle of not enough pay=not enough staff=large group sizes=more private demand=not enough staff=not enough pay.
I have explained this to SAM in every way conceivable (short of using crayons) and the scale of pay is as predictable as DOH REY ME...!
<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Robin (edited July 17, 2001).]</FONT>
post #19 of 30
At telluride the 2 guys I got were imports from down under on contract. (Not sure how that works as far as PSIA or whatever organization Telluride certifies through) Kent Carpenter and Hayden (don't recall last name off hand).
post #20 of 30

I will be in Whistler in January too. I thought about putting together a group lesson for those in our group as well.

Let me know what you hear about lessons. I've heard about Extremely Canadian or something like that. I will be arriving on the 19th, leaving on the 25th or 26th.

post #21 of 30
ships passing in the night. We arrive on the 26 stay through Feb 2.
I'll probably start looking in ernest around november. Todd said he might have some contacts up there. Our group is about 30 and I suspect about 8 of them are interested in lessons in the 6-8 range and then me and my cousin at a different level above that.
post #22 of 30

I think Jim still has his name/card. I'll find out for you.
post #23 of 30
Thanks. say hi to your buddies when you see them. (assuming same guys we skied with)
post #24 of 30
SCSA said:

It's not the price, is the format.
I think a private lesson can be fine if you have a specific purpose - "I'm not quite getting releasing my downhill ski, let's work on this today".
But to simply show up and say, "Watch me ski, tell me what I"m doing wrong...", I think this is a waste. For something like this, a 3 day lesson is all that's really going to help.

I am not sure I agree with that opinion.

First of all, the price is significant and it is obvious that only certain people can afford this. Most people have a coronary when faced with the lift ticket costs, let alone the cost of a private day.

Second, the format is definitely not a problem. Why would you expect the student to come with a specific problem to the teacher? Take me for example. I have no problem with most aspects of skiing, and I would not want to go into a private with any pre-conceived ideas about what I should improve upon. In fact I would expect the teacher to take a look at my skiing and if necessary break it down and identify weak areas and how to improve upon them. If the instructor does not think that there are any weak areas (that won't happen in my case ), then he/she could ask about specific goals. And none of this should not require a 3-day clinic.
post #25 of 30
Excellent point, Tom. Sometimes you don't know what the heck the problem is, and that can be discovered in a private. My "Eureka" moment this year was finding out that I tend to edge sequentially rather than simultaneously. I'm not sure if a something like that would have been noticed in a group lesson, since no one had ever commented on that before.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #26 of 30
my privates are worth every penny!
post #27 of 30

It's just a whole different approach to skiing - that I have. I work on one thing at a time. Like if I was to go to a camp, I'd have a specific thing that I wanted to work on.

Like LisaM brings up that she needs to edge simutaneously - sheesh! That's way different than what I practice.

Just goes to show you how many different opinions there are.
post #28 of 30
but SCSA, if you come into a lesson with that preconceived notion, and the instructor watches you ski, and that's the least of your problems, then, no matter how much you learn about the stuff you needed to learn, you'll go away dissappointed.

Also, I doubt that anyone would know that releasing the downhill ski is the problem they are having. All they know is the effect of not being able to release it. So they would come to the lesson saying they were having a hard time starting the turn. It may be a release issue, it may not. If it was a release issue, and they knew it, then it wouldn't be an issue, would it?
post #29 of 30
I work for a guy who pretty much always hires an instructor. He skis Loon and is an a group that hires an instructor for the entire season. I skied with him maybe 15 years ago before he became a Loon regular and it's incredible how he's smoothed out from all those hours with instructors. Four of us did 3 days of all-day private at Snowbird last January. It was $400-ish per day and we tossed in another $100 per day for tip. We hit a major 2-day powder dump and I thought it was worth every penny. We got to cut the tram line and the instructor checked with ski patrol every run to see what was just opened and we rarely crossed any tracks. We also got to ski terrain that I doubt I could have found by myself. The first tracks part of the program was the only bummer. They scrubbed it the first two days because they were shelling all that new fluff. On the third day, they only let us ski Chips and Regulator Johnson.
post #30 of 30
Yeah, I work for MBG and was the 4th on that trip. You've done an outstanding job on his technique. He used to be a back seat flailer.

I've forgotten how MG ripped his coat. I remember him telling the story back in April... in his usual boisterous fashion. I keep meaning to wander over to Loon to see you guys in action. Maybe next year?
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