Let Aspen be Aspen
At a time when the troubled economy has nearly everyone in the doldrums, its refreshing to see the Aspen Skiing Co. staffing up as it would in a normal year, and encouraging all Aspen business owners to put on their friendliest face despite what could be an economically disappointing winter.Skico officials, chiefly Senior Vice President David Perry, have insisted that this is Aspens season to shine, and we support him. Members of the Aspen Chamber Resort Associations board of directors agreed this week that Aspen mustnt skimp on service (or discount anything too deeply) if it wants to retain its prominent position among North American resorts.If Aspen hoteliers, lodge owners, restaurateurs and retailers can offer the same levels of quality and customer service that guests are accustomed to, then this supposedly dismal season could help set our ski town apart. Guests this winter might expect to find an orange rope across their favorite ski trail or a closed sign on the door of their favorite restaurant, but if Aspen can provide the same superior experience as it would any other year, then perhaps we may win a few more return customers.Some may say this is a naive strategy, that our allegedly recession-proof resort is finally in for a real wallop. And they may be right.But return customers have always been Aspens strength, and theres no better time to reward their loyalty (and perhaps attract a few newbies) than this year, when the experience in competing ski towns may well suffer from fear and cost-cutting measures.The first such opportunity, of course, is the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, which is both Aspens traditional opening and the occasion for World Cup ski racing. Pulling off these back-to-back events is a Herculean feat in any year and, given the low numbers of advance bookings, Skico would have had plenty of credible reasons to pull back or postpone the opening.Instead, of course, Aspen Mountain and Snowmass opened yesterday to healthy crowds, smiling faces and decent early-season conditions. The Skico even opened top-to-bottom skiing on Ajax as an opening-day surprise. Starting tomorrow well have two days of World Cup womens racing on the western side of Aspen Mountain; Robert Randolph & The Family Band will play the Gondola Plaza on Saturday night at 7:30, followed by fireworks over Little Nell.So lets make this a great World Cup weekend. And keep praying for snow. It just may lead to a better-than-expected season.
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