In a previous life, back when I was heavily involved in the ski industry, I was fortunate enough to be able to visit many of the big-time, tier 1 ski resorts here in the good old USA. Not sure they were happy to see me, but let me tell ya, they are everything they are cracked up to be. Multiple high-speed quads, swanky bars on both the summit and at the base areas, and world-class groomers wall to wall. Those resorts should be proud of the product they deliver, and I’m sure they are based on the lift ticket prices they display. But with competition for market share at an all-time high, some of these places have taken it too far. Here are some actual resort amenities that just wouldn’t cut it here in the Inland Northwest.
Taco Truck Snowcat
The good folks at Steamboat Springs, Colo., actually refer to this as the “Taco Beast,” and I can only imagine the throngs of skiers and riders that come out of the woodwork for tacos and margaritas when this thing comes barreling down the hill. Sure, you can get away with this there because of how massively wide the runs are, but I bet if you tried something like this around here the outcome would be far different. With our plethora of narrow runs and blind corners, it would only be a question of time until some poor schmuck and his family got ran over, giving our area a crappy dose of negative press (but interesting headline).
I think just the mention of fondue says it all. I’m quite positive that if offered fondue, many folks I know (including me) would drizzle it on their hotdog or dip their fries in it. But, alas, there seems to be a market for this at Panorama BC, where for a mere $900 you can get a Heli ride to the summit and be served a cheesy confection. We have to wonder whether hot cheese and a helicopter are a good mix.
Now this one makes total sense, in theory. The team at Maribel, France, thought so too. Many a time I have nearly taken a digger while trying to navigate flights of icy stairs on my way to the loo, and having the option to jump on a slide sounds like a far better option. In practice, methinks this would be a total poop show here in our neck of the woods. Either little Billy would lose control of his bladder halfway down and turn it into a water slide, or some middle-aged power drinker who spent far too much time “hydrating” at the bar would take the thing at a full sprint, blasting through a wall in the lodge as he exited the slide at 60 mph.
Ski In, Ski Out Distillery
Ok, this last one is kinda cool and weird at the same time, mainly because it exists at Park City, Utah. Kinda weird, right? Anyway, I’m not against throwing back a few adult beverages after a day on the hill, and Ullr knows I love me some whiskey, but giving anyone an opportunity to pound hard-A AND get right back on snow is bound to result in disaster around these parts. Chances are very good that some dude would spend most of the morning doing some bourbon “tasting” and then promptly jump on his GS boards and pile drive into the “Taco Beast” mentioned above. Chances are even higher that the dude would be me . . .. The Inland Northwest may come up with some innovative amenities in the future, but these ones seem best avoided.
Brad Northrup is a former ski racer, coach, and ski industry professional. He is classified as persona non grata at several tier 1 resorts.