Colorado ski resorts suffer layoffs
DENVER This ski season is shaping up to be the worst in years, according to a Canadian ski resort company that has announced it has laid off workers across a dozen resorts, including three in Colorado.Vancouver-based Intrawest Corp. hasn’t said exactly how many workers it let go, but company officials say the weak economy is squeezing the ski resort business.In a statement Tuesday, the resort operator called staff cuts “necessary steps” as skiers cut back vacations to ski resorts. The company’s owned or managed properties include Colorado’s Copper Mountain, Steamboat Ski & Resort and Winter Park.Intrawest also operates resorts in West Virginia and Vermont, in addition to owning Canada’s Whistler Blackcomb, host to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. The company also operates a beach resort in Sandestin, Fla.The resort company is privately held, but analysts say Intrawest’s remote getaways, accessible to most only by plane, are particularly vulnerable to economic downturns.Colorado’s Steamboat Ski & Resort, for example, is more than three hours by car from Denver. Because of that, most visitors fly in and stay several days, while smaller resorts closer to big cities have an easier time surviving a poor economy.”They’re not as dependent on out-of- state and international visitors,” Dave Belin, director at Boulder-based research firm RRC Associates, told the Rocky Mountain News.In a survey of skiers conducted online last month, RRC found that most skiers planned to ski as often as last year. But they planned to cut back in other ways on lodging, lessons and other extras such as traveling a long way to get to a ski mountain.Steamboat’s president, Chris Diamond, said in a statement that “the current business climate is unlike anything we have experienced in recent years.”Though specifics on Intrawest’s job cuts weren’t announced, there’s a good chance all resort operators are considering similar moves, said industry observer Jerry Jones.Jones, a former president of Keystone and Beaver Creek resorts in Colorado, told the Summit Daily News that even private property management companies are feeling the pinch.”I would imagine everybody is re-evaluating their staffing levels out there,” Jones said.
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Cam Daniel is a former youth addiction counselor who’s been a Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy for three years.