By Allen Best
Park City marketing to bikers
PARK CITY, Utah – Tourism officials in Park City think their biking trails are very good. But the marketing fell somewhat short. They intend to change that.
The Park Record reports that mountain biking this summer will be a much more dominant part of the resort’s marketing focus. Just maybe, Park City can cut into some of Moab’s business.
“Park City has always been a bit of a cycling town, but the potential growth of cycling was untapped,” said Charlie Sturgis, executive director of the local non-profit Mountain Trails Foundation. “Whether these increased marketing efforts work, well, I guess we’ll see.”
Aspen TMs “Defy Ordinary”
ASPEN, Colo. – “Defy Ordinary” is now a trademarked expression, owned by the Aspen Chamber Resort Association. The Aspen Daily News explains that U.S. trademark regulations require owners to use or lose their branding phrase.
Steamboat has not made that mistake. It adopted “Champagne Powder” in 1968 and takes care to ensure that nobody poaches that expression. It has attorneys who regularly send cease-and-desist letters to anybody who uses it without connecting it to Steamboat.
Aspen’s chamber trademarked the expression “Defy Ordinary” because the promotional organization wants to use that for branding for years to come. “We want to protect it and not have another resort use it,” said Julia Theisen, vice president of sales and marketing.
The Aspen Skiing Co. has trademarked dozens of brands and slogans over the years. At one point, it trademarked “Epic” as it relates to providing facilities for skiing or snowboarding, but the company allowed it to lapse.
The ski company also allowed the trademark for other branding expressions to lapse, among them: “The Mountain Town” and “Just Plain Fun.”
Guess it just wasn’t fun enough.
Water wary in wake of low snow
ASPEN, Colo. – As mountain towns in Colorado move into summer, they continue to consider what lies ahead as the result of the incredibly low snowpack this year. By some measures, the drought is far worse than the epic one that beset the summer of 2002.
In 2002, says The Aspen Times, the Roaring Fork River was reduced to a “series of puddles connected by a trickle of water” as it flows through Aspen. As a result, new legislation was adopted in Colorado that allows water-rights owners to donate their water to the river without fear of losing legal entitlements.
Administrators of the White River National Forest, which includes the Aspen, Vail and Breckenridge ski areas, warn of heightened risk from wildfires. “Everything’s lining up for a fire season that could be pretty severe,” forest supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams told local officials in Aspen last week.
Soil moisture in Aspen is at 5 to 10 percent, whereas average is at 60 to 70 percent, he said. Drought conditions are predicted for western Colorado through July.
At issue, too, is whether water agencies should ration supplies. Eric Kuhn, general manager of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, was quoted recently as saying that agencies should be more aggressive in restricting outdoor water use.
Steamboat maxes air guarantees
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – Managers of Steamboat’s ski season flight program expect to spend $3.5 million this year to meet revenue guarantees to airlines that brought direct flights to the resort last winter.
The amount is a record, reports the Steamboat Today, and just short of the maximum allowed in the contract with the airlines.
Airline officials estimate they typically have to spend $30 to subsidize each passenger, says the newspaper. But each passenger typically spends $1,100 during a winter vacation.
Next winter, because of decreased passenger numbers last winter and continued high fuel prices, Steamboat officials expect the airlines to require even higher revenue guarantees.
Skier visits down dramatically
TRUCKEE, Calif. – U.S. skier visits in the United States were down 15 percent this year. The National Ski Areas Association reported 51 million skier and snowboarder visits, the lowest total since the winter of 1991-92. This compares with a record number of 60.5 million in 2010-2011.
Some were bigger losers than others. Vail Resorts reported a 24 percent decline at Northstar and Heavenly, both in California, and a 9 percent decline at its four ski areas in Colorado.
Little Nell no longer on the table
SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo. – After the collapse of the real estate market in 2007-2009, there was much talk about just what would constitute the “new normal.”
The recession had proved that there was indeed a limit to the parade of rich people to which all the destination mountain resorts of the West cater.
That question of what constitutes the “new normal” remains as town officials in Snowmass Village as they reconstitute plans for the half-finished real estate development called Base Village.
Snowmass is Aspen’s money-maker, the place where 75 percent of “Aspen” skiers ski. In a way, it is Aspen’s answer to Vail Mountain. And Base Village, a joint project of the Aspen Skiing Co. and Intrawest when approved by local officials, was the answer to increasing competition from places like Deer Valley and Beaver Creek. The project aimed to deliver an improved lodging base as well as create greater economic vitality.
Among the projects completed before work was halted in early 2009 was a major new hotel, the Viceroy. But a no-go was The Little Nell.
Real estate professionals at Snowmass say that the Little Nell may be unnecessary. They point to both the Viceroy and a rebranding of another hotel into a Westin, where substantial upgrades are planned.
Aspen and Intrawest sold the project to a company called Related in 2007 for $167 million. The project in 2009 went bankrupt, and the four European banks that hold the notes now appear ready to sell the project back to Related. But how much of the original vision the banks and Related want to pursue is anybody’s guess, and the Snowmass community is rife with speculation about what the new market for real estate justifies.