Aspen Skiing Co. focuses on ski-less summers

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun

Aspen Skiing Co. has created a new director-level position that will focus on nonskiing business, primarily summer tourism.

And because Snowmass has the most room to grow, that’s going to be particularly important at the ski area, according to David Perry, senior vice president of mountain operations.

The position is called director of business development and is being filled by Peter Santini, who has worked for the company since 2009. The role is centered around nonskiing business, of which summer is the biggest part, and the goal is that it will help the company focus on executing its plan for summer, Perry said.

“Particularly in Snowmass it’s important,” Perry said. “Snowmass Village has always been fairly quiet in summer. … Everyone has always agreed there is high potential in Snowmass for the summer.”

Part of that plan was the development of the Elk Camp area into a hub for activities throughout the year. The reason the Elk Camp Gondola was built on the east side of the mountain was to provide year-round access to that area, Perry said.

“The potential for that area … is, we think, really strong,” Perry said. It’s a good spot for multiple activities, he said, including biking, hiking, meetings in the Elk Camp Restaurant, fishing in Rayburn’s Pond, rock climbing and others.

“We’ve really still only scratched the surface. That’s one of the reasons” for creating the position, he said.

Santini will be charged with spearheading the expanision of activities, as well as traffic, including getting approval from various jurisdictions and getting capital and physical improvements done.

Santini’s job also will involve Aspen Mountain, but Perry said the potential to create a more active zone is higher at Snowmass.

“Overall, I think we want to bring the same level of excitement … and have that same sort of experience available to our guests in the summer (as in the winter),” Santini said. “I think there’s a lot of room for Snowmass in particular, and given the increase in the quality of the lodging base, there’s a lot of room.”

Mountain biking in particular is a big opportunity, Perry said. Easy and intermediate ski slopes make for ideal biking terrain. The raw materials are there, but the trail network on the mountain is in its adolescent stage, Perry said. To compete as a biking destination, trails for all levels need to be developed so that whole families can participate.

Skico hopes to build four new trails next spring, pending approvals and other required steps.

Although he just started in his new position, Santini is looking forward to see the impact of programming changes on the mountain this summer. Those changes include running the Elk Camp chairlift every day instead of just weekends and Valhalla Nights, a program similar to the winter season’s Ullr Nights in which the gondola runs on Friday nights and guests can eat and take part in a variety of activities on the mountain. It also helps to have a completed restaurant instead of a construction site this summer, he said.

“I’m most excited about the prospect of developing a scene in Snowmass that’s similar to what we have in the winter,” Santini said.

Santini had been working in the company’s finance department since November 2009.