You want to have a meeting or an event in a ski town, but how do you go about selecting a place to fit your gathering’s purpose and personality? On the outside, you might think ski towns are all the same. In winter it’s typically skiing, snowboarding, cool on-mountain dining venues, tubing and ice skating. There are fire pits to lounge around and lots of off-mountain fun like dog sledding and snowshoeing.
I’m here to tell you that each ski town has it’s own personality and every meeting planner’s goal, when planning a meeting in a ski town, should be to figure out the vibe. Ask around, make a site visit, read articles that have been written about your top three destinations, and talk to destination management companies that do business in several mountain towns. In Colorado, where I live and was born, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Crested Butte, Aspen, Vail and Telluride are all very different. Want access to four great mountains, two towns and a touch of glamour? Go to Aspen/Snowmass. Looking for international flavor, head to Vail and Beaver Creek. If close proximity to Denver in important, Winter Park or Keystone are a good fit. So many terrific choices in the Mountain West, a great problem indeed!
How have ski towns remained so distinct? Often it’s because there isn’t that much cross-over unless sometimes there is the same resort owner. Colorado-based Vail Resorts now owns several ski areas in the Mountain West for example, including its recent purchase of Park City Mountain Resort in Utah. Aspen Skiing Company is taking the successful model of its Limelight Hotel in downtown Aspen to downtown Ketchum, Idaho, where it will build a hotel of the same name. The property is in close proximity to Sun Valley’s River Run base of Bald Mountain and will feature 119 rooms and suites plus 11 residential units.
I’m wondering if we’ll start seeing more duplication? If so, the challenge will be to keep ski towns unique and oozing with charm. Know of any Mountain West ski resorts that are celebrating significant anniversaries? Let me know as we will feature several in the Summer/Fall 2015 issue. Happy New Year!