Buttermilk programs to please all levels | AspenTimes.com

Buttermilk programs to please all levels

Jon Maletz

There are just two shopping days left until Christmas. Consumers are scrambling to find that perfect gift for the person on their list who has everything.

Relax: Buttermilk has you covered this year. The mountain’s ski and snowboard school has created a new promotion, which runs from Jan. 9 through Feb. 4, and promises to keep wallets fat, too.

In an attempt to quell the misconception that the majority of the ski area is shut down during the construction and deconstruction phases for the X Games, the Aspen Skiing Co. recently launched the Buttermilk Deluxe lesson package.

The deal includes a six-hour private lesson by one of Buttermilk’s instructors for a group of one to five people, new ski-snowboard school manager John Kneiper said. One free lift ticket with rental equipment, and coupons good for 50 percent off one meal at Bumps or the Cliff House, as well as one for any Mountain Photo product. The package, valued at $630, costs $250. The normal fee for a private lesson at any of the four local resorts is $515, Kneiper said.

“The community has somehow gotten the impression that Buttermilk as a ski area is closed because the X Games is so dominant. The rumor is out there,” Kneiper said. “I simply want to reverse the misconception and attract skiers and riders here.”

While the Winter X Games at the end of January will command a lot of attention, it will affect only a small portion of the mountain. Close to 400 of Buttermilk’s 435 skiable acres will be open to skiers throughout January, Kneiper said.

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The mountain’s superpipe and main park ” closed to the public during the X Games ” represent a large draw for local riders, who do choose to go elsewhere, Skico senior communications manager Jeff Hanle said.

“All the kids that go there to the park will end up heading for Snowmass,” Hanle said. “That certainly affects the numbers [of skier visits at Buttermilk during January]. But there will still be a lot of opportunities for beginners and intermediates to play and have fun.”

Adding to the appeal of a lesson at Buttermilk is the mountain’s variety of terrain and the flexibility of its instructors, Kneiper said. Green, blue and black trails and terrain park features such as pipes, rails and boxes will challenge skiers of every level and age.

Instructors are able to accommodate skiers of all abilities during a single lesson, Kneiper said. Six hours offers enough flexibility to teach one level during the morning and another in the afternoon. A few of the mountain’s instructors are also crossovers, certified to teach alpine, snowboarding and even telemark skiing, so every member of the group will be included.

And for those skiers who are advanced, Kneiper pointed out that more challenging terrain is just five minutes away.

“I like to think Buttermilk’s double diamond terrain is a five-minute shuttle ride away,” Kneiper said. “You can spend the morning with your pro, take advantage of the 50 percent off on food at one of Buttermilk’s restaurants, and hop the shuttle with your pro to [Aspen] Highlands.

“The skills one needs to be successful on a race course, the bumps on Bell [Mountain], or in the Highland Bowl is developed on terrain just like we have here.”

The idea for the package was first conceived at the end of last season and underwent extensive development over the summer, Kneiper said. The Skico is also implementing a detailed and diverse marketing strategy.

There is an advertisement in a 2005-06 brochure for local schools. Skico is launching a direct e-mail campaign for its customers, and information is also accessible on its website by typing in “Buttermilk Deluxe” in the homepage search bar. Kneiper even made his television debut during a segment on Plum TV Tuesday.

“I want to investigate avenues that allow us to promote on the front range and beyond, maybe even go to all four corners of the globe” he said.

While he declined to elaborate on the specifics, Kneiper said preliminary sales are “looking good.” There is a lot of work to do before the deal begins in 2 1/2 weeks, but Kneiper is confident the necessary steps are in place.

“This is an unbelievable investment for any skier to make,” Kneiper said. “I can’t imagine a reason why this wouldn’t be exciting.”

Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.com

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