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Skico cookie plan is sweet

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Cookie connoisseurs and skiers take note: Classy French “biscuits” are back as freebies at Aspen/Snowmass ski areas.

The Aspen Skiing Co. has a new contract with LU Biscuits, a French brand of cookie that hasn’t graced the local slopes for the last two seasons. For four previous seasons the company had a contract to provide the Skico with free cookies as part of a sponsorship deal.

The Skico muddled through the 2001-02 winter season with leftover LUs, and then came through last season with a contract to provide two new flavors of Oreos on the slopes ” Double Delight mint- and coffee-flavored cookies.

But according to one host standing in the Gondola Plaza on Monday afternoon putting out the first of the new LU freebies, the Oreos just weren’t the same.

“After LU, I had a fair amount of comments like ‘What happened to LU?’ and ‘I liked LUs better,'” said John Holsonback, while serving a basket of LU Pim’s hazelnut-flavored “Sensation Bars” to a flock of hungry skiers. “LUs will always be the favorite here ” they blend well with the Aspen ‘image,’ if you will.”

John Rigney, managing director of event marketing for the Skico, is in charge of managing the company’s sponsorships. Rigney said the free cookie sponsorship is an opportunity for exposure and getting new products ” like the new Oreos ” in front of customers.

LU is looking to promote their duet packages of biscuits this season, Rigney said, so the partnership was a matter of good timing.

“The name alone ” it’s a biscuit instead of a cookie ” just screams for an Aspen clientele,” Rigney said.

Skico CEO Pat O’Donnell first introduced free cookies, cider and coffee for customers about seven years ago as a series of customer service initiatives at the ski areas. The offering to skiers quickly became popular ” at one point resulting in a misdemeanor third-degree assault from a fit of “cookie rage.”

A regular skier at Aspen Highlands in early 2000 who routinely helped himself to a hefty handful of cookies tussled with a ski ambassador when the official tried to control his cookie allotment. The skier was sentenced to three days in jail plus a mandatory anger-management course.

But in most circumstances, the free cookies and beverages prompt a pleased reaction from locals and visitors.

“I think it’s a nice touch ” it’s something that doesn’t happen at all of the other resorts, and it adds value,” Rigney said. “Once you provide it, it becomes expected, and at least this is a fun thing where it makes someone’s day if they can grab a cup of cider and a cookie after a day on the hill.”

Skico partnered with Gevalia coffee last year to provide a free morning caffeine buzz for skiers on their way up to the slopes. Rigney said the company is still using Gevalia coffee, but is looking to either renew the agreement or to find a new coffee purveyor for a contract.

[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com]


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