Unexpected gift | AspenTimes.com

Unexpected gift

It’s a rough time to be in the resort business. During a recession, many people cancel all their travel plans and, even once they decide to take the trip, it’s harder to coax discretionary income out of their pockets.

When this ski season is over, we’re likely to see disappointing numbers in skier visits, bed taxes, sales taxes and almost anything else that provides a seasonal economic yardstick. We can only hope that summer brings a loosening of the credit markets and a rise in consumer confidence.

Aside from the grim statistics, however, here’s something else that’s remarkable: The experience on the Aspen Skiing Co.’s mountains didn’t diminish one bit. No, we didn’t enjoy the huge and consistent storms of winter 2007-08 for a second season in a row, but the Skico kept all the trails open and the chairlifts running and the snowcats grooming all season long, sun or snow, with no notable lapses in quality or service.

This is extraordinary, and it shows that the company’s commitment to its customers is more than mere lip service.

When the Skico announced last week that it would reopen Highlands for an extra two weekends of skiing later this month, it brought smiles to skiers’ and snowboarders’ faces throughout the valley. Of course, it’s a move calculated to draw headlines and late-season visitors, but who’s going to argue with that strategy in the current economic environment?

We applaud the move. The extra weekends at Highlands last year were a blast for locals and a chance to show off the fine skiing and riding available on our “locals’ mountain.” As local skiers and riders all know, the conditions in Highland Bowl are routinely a cut above anything else in the vicinity, and we expect the rule to hold true into late April.

We thank the Aspen Skiing Co. for a fine overall job this season under trying economic circumstances, and for the unexpected “gift” of an extra two weekends at Highlands.

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