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California Resorts’ CEOs Voice Their Loyalty to the Skiers

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As Colorado enjoys their first, solid snowfall in nearly a month, California resorts continue to wait on Mother Nature to show up. New passes and offers are coming out daily from snowless resorts (to convince skiers to enjoy what little snow they have) and snowful resorts (to convince skiers to travel for better snow). In the middle of this winter tug-of-war, resorts are going straight to the top to communicate with their skiers about the situation and what they’re doing to make it right.

(Before I continue, since I’ll be mentioning Northstar further down, I wanted to quickly highlight their efforts to keep a positive vibe around their brand and resort. From sticking to their plan of building a 22′ pipe, interviewing a vacationing Annika Sorenstam, or just letting the guests do the talking, I’ve been impressed with the upbeat music they’ve used in their videos and feel they have given all their communications.)

Anyway, onto the word of the execs addressing their loyal skiers with a reminder of their commitment to them and the sport they love. I think both are very well written and executed. Based on the comments below each (a clever move as well to post these in a place that allows commenting), it sounds like I’m not alone.

Mammoth Mountain
Rusty Gregory, CEO
(thanks to Alex Kaufman for the heads up)
“The company has completed its most successful Christmas and New Year holiday period in my 34 years on the mountain. Never in our history have we hosted so many guests with so little natural snow and produced such a high quality experience on and off the mountain.

“I had the opportunity to talk to scores of guests over the last 2 weeks. They were universally effusive about how much fun they were having and couldn’t believe that Mammoth had top to bottom skiing, the Unbound pipe and parks were going off, June was open, Woolly’s Adventure Summit had snow for the tubers, and that we even had cross country skiing up to Minaret Summit. They were wowed by the fireworks at Night of Lights and on New Year’s Eve, and had a blast at the concerts and DJ events. The Village rocked and they loved that we opened a day care and brought Sushi Rei back.

“Many of our guests came to Mammoth from Northern California for the first time because the Tahoe resorts’ lower elevation and limited snowmaking capabilities only allowed the operation of a small fraction of the terrain and services Mammoth provided. A significant number chose Mammoth over their usual winter vacation spots in Colorado and Utah. You all worked very hard and performed wonderfully. From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of our guests and a grateful community, thank you very, very much.

“But now, the crowds are returning home, the temperatures are warming and the weather is forecast to provide more sun than snow in the days to come. I know that all of you are wondering how the company intends to deal with the less than optimistic outlook going forward.

“Here is what I know:

“So far, this winter is the driest on record since the 1800s. I’ve talked to the heads of major resorts in California, Utah and Colorado. Each of them are cutting back on lifts, terrain and staffing to save money. Many think that the winter of 2011-12 will never really get started and the weeks and months to come will just bring more of the same.

“Here is what I believe:

“We operate the best mountain in the country and we run it better than our friends at other resorts run theirs. Skiers want to ski and boarders want to ride. This yearning and the demand it produces doesn’t go away just because Mother Nature isn’t cooperative. Mammoth is the skier and rider’s mountain. When it snows, they will come. In my 34 years on the mountain, I’ve seen several severe drought years with little or no snow in October, November or December. It snowed by mid January in each of those years.

“Here is what we are going to do:

“We are going to do the opposite of what other resorts are doing. We are not going to cut services or service to save money. We are going to keep everything open – Eagle, Canyon, the Village, all the current lifts and all the terrain possible. If temperatures allow snowmaking, we will add more runs and lifts as soon as we can, even if it’s during the middle of the week when crowds are light. We are going to keep our seasonal employees and year-round employees. If hours of work get too thin for some, we will feed each of them every night to make it possible for them to stay in town. We will continue to operate all our shops and restaurants everyday on the regular winter schedule. Our rental shops will be renting all categories of skis and boards including demos, everyday.

“We are going to do just what we did over the holiday. We are going to give our guests way more than they expect, and way more than our competition. We will do it the Mammoth Way with big smiles, a positive vibe and the informal, authentically sincere service we are famous for. Our guests will love us for it and they will come back.

“If any of you are unclear on what I mean or what we are doing, call me at 760.934.0731or visit me in my office so that I can set you straight. I don’t want anyone to underestimate the company’s commitment to the quality of our guest’s experience or misunderstand their individual role in delivering it.

“I wish each of you, your family and friends a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.


Northstar & Heavenly
Bill Rock, COO, Northstar & Pete Sonntag, GM, Heavenly
(thanks to Shawn Malain for the heads up)
“Dear Valued Pass Holder,

“It’s no secret that natural snow has been hard to come by this year and we know that has been a disappointment for many of you. When you buy a season pass, everyone hopes it will be an amazing snow year. Last year at this time, we had more snow than many of us had seen in years and while hopefully the big powder dumps are just around the corner this season, we know the waiting can be tough.

“We want to make sure all of you know that when you buy one of our season passes, it comes with a promise. Regardless of the expense, we will make as much snow and open as many trails and restaurants as we possibly can. We know our slopes are not as busy as they were last year, but we will go to the same great lengths nevertheless because our mission is to provide each and every guest their experiences of a lifetime, no matter what the conditions.

“And our promise is not just about what we are doing this season – it’s about what we have done for many years. It’s about the millions of dollars of investments we make in our resorts each and every year to continually improve our snowmaking. Sure, in big snow years we know our guests don’t care too much about snowmaking and a lot of other resorts try to slide by on that. But we keep investing anyway – so when the natural snow isn’t great – we can provide the absolute best snow surface possible and give our pass holders an opportunity to strap on their skis or boards and get on the slopes with more than just a couple of trails. In a year when most resorts around the lake have fewer than 10 trails open and some as little as 4 – our two resorts have a combined 51 trails and 35 lifts open and running every day.

“And it’s not just about the trails, because we also invested in enough snowmaking to get 46 features open in our terrain parks and Northstar has the only 22-foot superpipe open anywhere in the region. That’s the power of snowmaking.

“It’s winters like this where a resort shows its true colors and we make sure ours are as white as possible. We don’t just pray for snow, we make it. Praise the snowmakers.

“See you on the slopes,
Bill Rock, COO, Northstar California
Pete Sonntag, GM, Heavenly Mountain Resort”

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