How Corporate Consolidation is Killing Ski Towns

How Corporate Consolidation is Killing Ski Towns

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Writing by Sam Denby and Tristan Purdy
Editing by Alexander Williard
Animation led by Josh Sherrington
Sound by Graham Haerther
Thumbnail by Simon Buckmaster

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58 Responses

  1. Shangerdanger says:

    the employees pay for parking??? LOL. Another thing not mentioned about finding housing is that you won’t get approved if you don’t make 2x or 3x the cost of rent.

    • Maverick Jones says:

      @Tomas Sakalauskas We want free parking for employees. It’s not asking for a lot. You not understanding is irrelevant.

    • Zenkat says:

      Many places don’t actually enforce that policy as they realize they would be severely limiting themselves on tenants and income.
      As described perfectly by somebody I met who owns property: “if we enforced that rule then most people in this country wouldn’t qualify to live anywhere. We just put it there to discourage “certain people” from applying”

    • Michael Imbesi says:

      @Ryanmack Good. Parking should never be free. If you’re going to waste 300 square feet of space storing a car, you should damn well have to pay for doing so. 2 parking spaces and their share of the driving aisle needed to get to them are the size of a 1 bedroom apartment, and if two people are going to park their cars there, nobody can live there. So if someone is going to evict someone to store a useless chunk of metal, they at least shouldn’t be allowed to do it for free

    • KRY MauL says:

      Yes, companies usually know how to turn a profit and be cheap. What else is new.

    • Thomas says:

      I’ve met a lot of people who work at ski resorts during the winter and almost all of them have to live at least 30 minutes away if not further because of a complete lack of affordable housing in these ski towns. Along with that most of them have multiple jobs because they aren’t being paid enough by the resorts.
      At the bare minimum the resort should provide parking for their employees, it just seems cheap not to.

  2. bababababababa says:

    I feel so bad for people living in tourist hotspots, I feel like this type of thing happens all over the world

    • WillTheProdigy says:

      @jgrywacheskithat’s how the outer banks are

    • John Harris says:

      @Westphalian You are mixing Australia with Austria

    • John Harris says:

      @Karel Schmidt Exactly! I’m glad someone else can see this. It’s frustrating that these videos often come to the same conclusions, but never offer solutions. I guess they don’t want to alienate their subscribers/paymasters

    • Xiphoid Process says:

      Don’t feel too bad for them. It’s like discovering oil on your land. It’s like the stories we here in Texas, farmers and ranchers who had oil company salesman knocking on their door offering millions for their land. Sure they sold their land and became overnight millionaires. Sure the oil company made even more money. But look at it this way, they both ended up richer than if either of them said no.

    • KRY MauL says:

      @Jacknoles Vail needs to invest into rail.

  3. Stealthy Baguette says:

    Vail is awful. My dad is a ski instructor at one of the mountains and the way they’ve been treating employees is just awful. And they can’t unionize either— They can easily fire employees for trying to unionize. The punishment for doing so? Paying the fired employees their paycheck. Essentially, paying them what they would be making anyways. The system is completely broken and Vail is absolutely ruining a mountain I’ve been skiing on since I was a toddler.

    • Aleksandar Joksimovic says:

      @Slarty are you sure you want to go there, free education, free healthcare, pension at 62 years… Anyway I spend money earned in US, so I don’t care abut GDP.

    • teksgeroi says:

      That’s capitalism for you.

    • Slarty says:

      @Aleksandar Joksimovic Yes, but what is GDP per capita in Germany versus the US?

    • Ross says:

      Vail isn’t awful, they’re just a corporation. I don’t mean that to excuse Vail, but rather highlight that Vail is by no means and no stretch of anybodies imaginations remotely unique or novel as a corporation that exploits, extracts, ruins, and thinks only short-term. Those are the direct consequences of fiduciary duty. The Board Directors can (and frankly will) be held personally legally liable by shareholders if they do not make every decision in favour of the most profitable choice. Morality is literally not allowed to factor in to those discussions, as they are legally liable for not maximizing shareholder profits at every available opportunity. The only thing they are *literally legally allowed* to factor in is actual laws that require and mandate particular behaviour, reporting regimes, etc. The only time a corporation will *EVER* consider sacrificing shareholder profits is when it is seen as a risk to long-term PR, such that shareholder profits are jeopordized more by the PR failure than the otherwise most profitable action to take in the short-term. This is also why *every company ever* will do liberal virtue signaling greenwashing bullshit about *literally every random liberal, feel good virtue signaling thing,* because it is essential for their profit that they maintain appearances. There is not a single goddamn company setting up pride parade floats (or whatever the fuck) that is actually doing that because they care: their highest level of decision makers, the people who hire and fire the CEO, are legally only allowed to factor maximum profit generation for shareholders into their decisions. They are just virtue signaling because it’s less profitable not to virtue signal. If their demographic of consumers are almost entirely right-wing people, they’ll vice signal instead.

      TL;DR: Capitalism is the problem. Socialism is the (inevitable) solution.

    • Slarty says:

      @The Compl33t Noob Greed? Everyone wants money. You are greedy too

  4. Syper 911 says:

    There are not enough 80’s movie style ski offs to save their towns from big corporations.

  5. BKM says:

    My sister and her fiance worked for Vail staying in their assigned housing and it was an absolutely awful experience. Dorms were treated like a religious school with strict curfew, gendered housing, and managers that could walk and search your room whenever they pleased- mind you most employees were in their late 20’s. Because of the prohibitive parking, many people opted to sell their cars and ended up being trapped by the system, unable to afford to leave. It was an awful experience and nearly ended their marriage, they were fired with no reason given after my brother in law broke his arm at work- I wonder why…

  6. SuperCrabbycrab says:

    They should eliminate “offseason” as the towns have done in the Alpes. They have begun advertising hiking, mountain biking, sightseeing and outdoor holidays. Atm Alpes are all-season towns; and as somebody who has been skiing for over 20 years. It shows the last 10 years they have changed the tourism to be all year round. Because of this. It has even gotten me into Mountain Biking also. They need to do this as well, as Snow will be a rare sight in 20 years. The North Americas are also making it too expensive…. In Europe, it’s much more affordable.

    • Pouya Z says:

      The European Alps are encircled by a significant population and an abundance of small towns and large cities. In contrast, American ski towns are often too isolated to sustain off-season activities. It might be better for the US ski town to revise their building and zoning regulations to promote affordable housing for local residents. Additionally, prioritizing downtown areas for locals and vacation homes to the surrounding regions could help maintain community integrity.

    • teksgeroi says:

      Yeah I don’t understand, are these places so boring in the summer, that no one wants to visit the place?

    • Matthew Denniston says:

      Mostly the trails are managed by the forest service who don’t want to build more parking or charge a fee to maintain the trails given higher visitor counts. Mt.Quandary just south of Breck is the shit show microcosm of people just refusing to accept reality.

      It racks up quite the casualty count too as it is known as an easy 14er, but is still a 14er… Good practice for SAR I guess.

    • Nick Bryant says:

      The snow isn’t going anywhere. However they already do this, but the demand is small because hiking and biking can be done closer to large towns without the long drives. Lift access mountain biking is very fun though and they should do that more

  7. DAG says:

    I am from Telluride, a mountain town in southwest Colorado. My family was pushed out by rising house costs, and corporate greed that continues to get the once bustling community it once had. It’s gotten to the point where surrounding towns have outright been purchased just for the workers to live there, and other towns have become Airbnb hotspots with barely any available housing for lower income families. Seven generations my family has lived in the San Juan mountains, and unfortunately I fear that ends with me. As it’s just too unaffordable, and unrealistic even with the good paying job I have now.

    • Bax Out The Box says:

      @DAG my family visited telluride a couple of times a year until recently. Unless you’ve been there, it really is hard to fathom the prices for food, gas, utilities, rent, etc. Anyone who gets their groceries from in town will pay $400-$500 for a week’s worth of food. Gas is $4.60 a gallon compared to the state average $3.58. Anyone saying that owning land or housing would protect you doesn’t understand home ownership in the United States where property taxes are increasingly pushing generational homeowners out of their property; and it’s only getting worse each year. The isolation and inaccessibility of Telluride makes it one of the best case studies on housing affordability in the country. Sorry, y’all got pushed out, it really is such a beautiful place. The locals there were a huge draw for my family as we made some great friends over the years. But the people changed and now it’s just a town full of snobby d-bags like Vail or Aspen. It’s been sad to see but it’s inevitable.

    • DAG says:

      @opinion56 but that’s the thing we did own land…. We were forced out by the rising costs of pretty much everything. 😐

    • opinion56 says:

      @DAG you live in a hot spot many people want to live in buddy. You arent obligated to live there and honestly seven generations without owning land? Mark yourselves as failures. Im being honest.

    • SigFigNewton says:

      @DAG company towns. 1800 worker conditions

  8. LoafOf Milk says:

    I am from Durango Colorado. A ski town just like the ones referenced during this video. Heavily reliant on our tourist economy. Our local mountain has stayed out of the grasp of Vail, as well as other conglomerates of ski resorts. But it breaks my heart to watch the town I grew up in slowly slip towards mediocrity and soulless corporate acquisition. It’s not helped by rich tourists driving up property prices and making our town unlivable for the locals. It warms my heart to see someone actually addressing this pretty niche issue.

    • KRY MauL says:

      Ask them to open the mountain all year round for mountain biking and the like.

    • scarface548 says:

      @Desert Tortoise locals don’t want to do that because they benefit from tourist economy and property appreciation.

    • Zen Okada says:

      I’m British but skied in purgatory this year. I went to Tahoe once as well that seemed much more corporatised while most people here seemed like locals but it seemed like there were many empty homes in our late season trip. We stayed with a family who own a house there as a second home and occupy it for about 120 days a year. I don’t think that’s the worst thing in the grand scheme of things and I hope these more local resorts can stay fairly independent, they’re wonderful. Also all the staff seemed to love it and be treated really well. Hopefully these resorts can stay independent and be accessible to the locals affordable

    • Felicia Felicia says:

      Durango has a decent student population and the jobs that relate to that.

    • Desert Tortoise says:

      Maybe we should do what the local Utes and Navajo do? Ban all corporate ownership of land, even the individual tribe members can’t buy land.

  9. Johannine Acolyte says:

    This is why I live in CO and don’t ski. It’s become a prohibitively expensive, bland experience. “Hey wanna pay hundreds of dollars on equipment and eye-gouging passes to sit in traffic all morning so you can ski for a few hours surrounded by crowds of people and spend the rest of your money overpriced pizza and beer? Then spend a few more hours in traffic on the way back? You’re only moderately likely to suffer a serious injury!” Way better to hike and camp for free.

    • KRY MauL says:

      I would like to all that except the traffic part. Vail needs rail.

    • Alec says:

      Luckily Aspen/Snowmass haven’t reached that point yet. Longest I’ve waited in line for a lift was like 10 min

    • Felicia Felicia says:

      I live in Colorado, have been for 5 years… and I don’t understand the allure of skiing. Pay a bunch of money to endure snow just to go down a hill a few times? Nope.

    • Joshua Cheng says:

      Cross-country skiing is much more affordable IMO. Sure you have to build endurance going uphill as well as downhill, but all you need is winter layers, boots, poles, pair of skiis, and a state/national park/forest pass/permit.

    • MagicalBread says:

      Sounds like you just don’t like skiing.

      I live for the 3 hour drive early in the morning, skiing for 5-6 hours than driving 3 hours back.

  10. Ada Manrique says:

    a comparison to towns in the alps would have been interesting

    • John Harris says:

      @DutchDude93 It does to a certain extent but not to such extremes, largely because most of Europe has a government who is willing to somewhat constrain corporations. However the “American Way” is slowly being exported globally i’m afraid

    • L says:

      Ski resorts in Alps is not owned by a big corporation. Lift operators doesn’t own the entire town. The most expensive day ticket you can find is probably 90 Euros (swiss franc) in St. Moritz

    • Horace LeDoge says:

      Where I live in Switzerland they’ve definitely adopted the “getting everyone on season passes” model, day tickets have been raised too, although still only 60-90. Almost all resorts have joined lift pass partnerships although they stay independently owned, & profits are divided depending on ridership. It’s been beneficial to small resorts as people can explore them “for free”

    • Berend Noë says:

      In the Alps, the lift managing company is often (partly) owned by either the municipality, the department or by local corporations. Skiing in Europe did not experience the same dip as skiing in the US did, and many ‘weekend’ resorts still exist.

    • Melville Capps says:

      I have had one experience of skiing in Interlaken, Switzerland. No chair lifts. Rode a sprocket drive train up to the top of the mountain. I think the train fare was separate from the ski pass, but waived if you had a ski pass. Then skied down the mountain to the next town. It took an hour to ski down. It was a huge beginner to intermediate slope. There were steeper routes as well. Then back on the sprocket train to ride up to the town at the top of the mountains.

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