Friday, April 10, 2020

Search Results for: resort town life

Work, ethic

I have hired people.
I have fired people.
I have worked jobs that I was bad at (wine waiter and bar bouncer come to mind).
I have been fired by people. (see above).
I have been a boss, an owner and a grunt. I’ve washed dishes in the kitchen at a ski resort and worked three days straight without sleep because I owned the business.

And with all the talk of “work ethic” in this town I must say that I’ve seen some of the hardest working people I’ve ever met doing it here. Some own the business. Others just work at a business. But certain people around here take obvious pride in their product. I’ve also seen some of the biggest slackers ever. Welcome to life in a resort town.

The bottom line that might be remembered by everyone in the CB working climate—no one in recent memory moved here just to work. People work in Crested Butte to live in Crested Butte. To ride their bikes, to hike the mountains, to run the rivers and ski the slopes.
Most of us could probably make more money spending eight hours a day in a cubicle or owning a shop in a metropolitan downtown. But we’d be in a cubicle or a metro. We all choose to live in a small mountain community and take the fruits and trade offs of that. If the choice is a powder morning or picking up another shift, 99 out of 100 will choose pow. It’s the high mountain culture.

Whether you are a grunt in the background or the big kahuna at the front of the house, don’t forget why it is we are here. Look up from the computer or kitchen line or spread sheet and check out the mountains, the rainbows and rivers.
Very few people move to 9,000 feet in paradise to build their resume or climb a corporate ladder. It is to live. And living here is different than living in a city. For that we should find gratitude every day…whether you are the owner or the dishwasher.
If nothing else, the recent community discussion might be a reminder to the workers and the bosses—that through it all, respect and hard work make it possible for all of us to live…and (more importantly) play here.

Here’s to a summer of fun, respect and prosperity for all. Work hard. Play harder.

 —Mark Reaman

Kids Summer Program Guide

Are you looking for fun and educational activities for your kids this summer?

Do you have family or friends coming for a visit and would like to know of all the options to keep kids entertained while the adults play?

Here is a comprehensive list of summer activities for children of all ages.

From art and dance to rock climbing, mountain biking, adventure play and nature tours there is sure to be something perfect for the younger generation to do in the East River Valley this summer!

Enjoy! Read More »

Profile: Paula Dietrich



Me? I’m not worthy,” laughs the Royal Has-Been Flauschink Queen Paula Dietrich when asked to be this week’s profile. She had the dubious honor of being crowned in the 35th year of the distinctly Crested Butte event in 2003.


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Profile: Dano Marshall

He was hired out of Hiram College in Ohio because of the well-known Midwestern work ethic, which was presumably better than the Colorado ski bum’s powder-day-religion principles—at least that’s what the Crested Butte ski resort owners at the time thought when they hired on a gaggle of them for their student employment program. Dano Marshall was one of those who gleefully took a semester off to work as a lift op.

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Profile: Danica Baker

There’s more than one way to be a ski bum(mette)!


When Danica Baker moved to Crested Butte during the fall of 2010, her recent ski experience was admittedly  limited. She wore three-buckle, rear-entry ski boots from the 1990s, a hand-me-down from her uncle after he quit the sport in a fit of frustration. But they were free, and she strapped those boots on as tightly as she could and took to the mountain with her boyfriend, photographer Trent Bona.

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Make it about the Adventure.

“What they’re saying is, that if it was better, it would be better…”
“If nothing changes, then nothing changes.”
“It just comes down to money. If we had more, there’s nothing we couldn’t do.”
—A couple of quick notes sent to me regarding recent letters, columns and editorials in the paper.

“It was awesome.”
“They nailed it.”
“I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.”
“I can’t wait to do it again.”
—Silver Queen beauty pageant judges…

Now that’s what I’m talking about. The Silver Queen Beauty Pageant. It’s something I didn’t see (watching high school hockey instead) but heard a lot about. It’s something I definitely want to see next time. That’s what I’m talking about.
Cheers to CBMR for putting on something different and out of the mainstream. It was something with flair, fun, energy and edginess. It was apparently a party—a loud, fun party. Listening to stories and looking at photos, the event was an adventure that people will remember. They’ll come back and tell their friends to come back. That’s how things grow. A weird beauty pageant with candy bikinis, synchronized swimming in a bar, Huck and Buck and evening gowns on a mechanical bull and The Gadfly as top-notch MC is not something you’d experience at Applebee’s after work on Thursday in Houston. That’s the point. “Turn up the Music” should be the mantra of the resort.
As I’ve harped, it’s that vibe the valley needs to rediscover and embrace—and the Silver Queen pageant by all accounts was a great step in that direction. I would bet Butte 66 had its best day in years. Look what a little volume and something interesting can do…

I’m not the smartest guy in the world (or even the smartest guy in the Silver Queen lift line on a Wednesday in January) but my suggestion would be to “Turn up the Music” even louder…especially if we ultimately partner somehow with our T’ride friends in a sort of regional resort opportunity. Comparison shopping demands unique products. Think about more Silver Queen beauty pageants and less winter mini golf. Here’s a quick “branding” idea: Build on Crested Butte’s quirky rep and what we actually have here. Emphasize the fun and adventure inherent in the valley. In corporate parlance, “under-promise and over-deliver.” Embrace what we are, warts and all. Pulling off a quirky, Crested Butte-centric beauty pageant fits into that mold.
Crested Butte is different from many winter resorts. We aren’t as big as most. We aren’t as glitzy or smooth as most. We aren’t a normal resort place. With our old west mining history, our high open mountain valley, the abundantly accessible backcountry, solid acceptance of pretty much anyone, Crested Butte oozes adventure. So “brand” everything that comes out of here with an adventure tag.
Whether it’s the ski area, the university, the arts community or the towns, push the potential for adventure. When it comes to messaging, obviously you can use a photo of some kid hucking Paradise Cliffs and tag it as adventure. But there is more to it than the obvious. A family learning to snowboard together on Peachtree is adventure. A grandfather showing his granddaughter how to cast a line into the East River can be adventure. A couple sharing a glass of wine in a fine dining establishment can lead to adventure. Seeing a gang of gnomes in a ski race is an adventure for most people. So is skiing a run named Body Bag. Ensure that we can fulfill the message but “adventure” is a message that crosses all sorts of lines and appeals to people looking for places like this, literally at the end of the road.
We already have ziplines and an Adventure Park. When permitted, think about expanding the zips to go from the Silver Queen to the top of Painter Boy. We have lifts to the Extreme Limits so push it out further to the new Teo terrain. Summers are already off the charts with great biking and things like a wildflower festival that can rival the Great Barrier Reef in terms of color. If you want to spend big money to expand the adventure theme, perhaps follow a template like Jay Peak in Vermont and bring in an aquatic park complete with a Lazy River, poolside drink service and Flowrider surf waves. Surfing the Butte at 9,300 feet above sea level in January would definitely be an adventure. Locals would use it and guests would love it. The Crested Butte sledding hill qualifies as an adventure. Skiing Irwin is an adventure, and guided side-country skinning tours of Snodgrass could be. Previously, I have suggested replacing the winter mini-golf tent with an outdoor heated disco/bar/barbeque tent. Turn up the Music.

A good life lived contains elements of adventure. It’s rarely found in a cubicle in some Dallas office building. Get the cubicle dwellers to visit and experience something out of the mainstream. We have it in spades. It’s one reason we live here. That is what we need to convey to people. Get them to understand that sharing adventure and making memories is something that will last forever. But we have to get over worrying about not being “professional” enough. We have to get over trying to vanilla-ize everything and making sure everything is “safe.” We should embrace our roots and expand on what we are, not what we think we should be to compete with other resorts. Be proudly different.
Adventure creates memories and memories are what people seek. Adventure leads to stories that lead to excitement that lead to people having to try this place out and then tell their friends to try this place out. And that fills airline seats, bar stools and concert halls. Crested Butte can capture that vibe. It’s a natural here—but let’s make sure that the vacation experiences tops the “adventure” of getting here. Whether we ultimately team up with Telluride or not, being able to help facilitate those memories frankly comes with some product improvement measures (and dare I say again, perhaps some more value-oriented pricing adjustments).
We have to turn the music back up—and then get the word out. The Silver Queen Beauty Pageant was by every account a home run. Nice job.
It’s all part of the adventure and that’s what I’m talking about.

Being nimble and bold is a good step

Some bold ideas that have a seed in the valley and helped move the place forward:
—Ski Free, which was the most successful ski promotion in our history that introduced thousands to Crested Butte and fattened cash registers throughout the valley.
—The idea of “guaranteeing” airlines to fly into Gunnison.
—Making Extreme ski terrain accessible by a lift.
—-Riding townies from Elk Avenue to the Hotel Jerome over Pearl Pass on what years later would turn into $8,000 mountain bikes and a major summer sport.
—Buying a local ranch at the entrance to town and putting a community school on the land.
—Luring the X Games to the Rockies.
—Restricting the size of houses inside the town of Crested Butte.
—Forming a Land Trust to acquire open space in a growing resort valley.
—Starting a voluntary 1% for Open Space program to help fund that open space.
—Getting the state to declare Crested Butte the Wildflower Capital of Colorado.
—Having the town sanction a huge fall bonfire at the main intersection of Crested Butte.
—Embracing “uphill skiing” at the downhill resort.

To own a business takes courage. To own a business in a ski town where you must rely on a lot of things out of your control—things like copious snowfall and the national economy—takes even more nerve. This applies especially to the big dog, the ski area itself.
Successful businesses are usually nimble businesses. Things are always changing. Few people still ski on 210 Atomics wearing leather boots. The ski area can’t control the weather but it can (must) try more interesting ideas if the current template isn’t working.
I’ve written about some product improvement ideas in the past that might lead to increased customer demand. It now appears Crested Butte Mountain Resort is taking a bold step and is in the early stages of working on developing a partnership with traditional rival ski area Telluride. That doesn’t happen often in the ski industry. Without knowing the details, I like the concept. It is something bold and innovative and something new.
We learned this week that CBMR’s top management has been meeting with Telluride owner Chuck Horning. Horning has declared that the meetings have been “historic.” Horning is searching for “radical” and “innovative” ideas to bring change from what’s been done in the past in his resort. While keeping their cards close to their chests, the Muellers appear to be boarding that train. Make love, not war.

Partnering with a traditional rival is a big change but could be a game changer. It does not come without risk, but kudos to those trying something bold in order to see some sunlight.
This community and the leadership of the ski area can’t keep doing the same thing over and over and expect different results. We aren’t sure how deep this new partnership will go. Is it just a shift in air strategy or is it a deeper partnership based on two cool, old western ski towns that can offer winter clients a unique authenticity? We’ve suggested such a partnership in the past to help combat Epic Passes and somewhat sterile Front Range industrial tourism. We look forward to seeing the details of this new direction soon. There will certainly be impacts to the community as a whole but the end game might be enough to start a climb up out of the economic cellar for almost everyone. Given where we are, and where we’ve been stuck in the last few seasons, just sniffing at something bold and different is welcome.

Bold ideas come with risk and there is no doubt some risk involved with any sort of new partnership. But that makes life interesting. We may be adding something to that list of bold ideas that take us another step forward. Thank God we can at least talk about a new idea…

Changing perceptions…

Someone I respect sent me an email saying he thought I was a bit off last week in my characterization of the (lack of) fun factor product at the north end of the valley. “I’m talking the whole enchilada, CBMR, Nordic, backcountry, Irwin, restaurants, nightlife, ‘other’ activities—is pretty damn good. Freaking killer good, really,” he wrote.
He’s not wrong. There are a whole lot of good things up here. It’s a reason we still live here. We love this place. But one of the points I was trying to make is that it’s obviously not “killer” enough to get people to want to come back. We can’t depend on just a list of good things. That list comprises the foundation of any resort, but has to have a spark from each element and that comes with perception. A good perception gets people to come back. A poor perception sends them somewhere else to look for the spark.
Someone else this week described the situation I wrote about as if those in charge keep trying to turn down the music at a party. He said the local leaders (not just the ski area management but community-wide) are spending time tidying it all up, focusing on the high-enders, trying to hide the blemishes, trying to be more professional than fun.
We need to turn the music back up. People need to perceive that there’s a good party not to be missed and they should come here and enjoy it on vacation.

So, it’s another typical Tuesday in the office. There are a half dozen dogs waiting to greet those who walk through the door. The writers are writing, the saleswomen are selling and I’m reading a Playboy. Really, I’m not looking at the pictures, I’m reading an article from the February, 1982 edition titled “Ultimate Skiing: a tale of fast times and high adventure in the best ski resorts North America has to offer.”
The story is an excerpt from two Playboy staffers who spent a season skiing and wrote a book about it. Good work if you can get it. The article starts off with their tale of Crested Butte. The two flew from Denver into Crested Butte with a young woman pilot. Twenty-four hours later, they were doing a line of coke after finishing dinner in a “world-class restaurant in the tiny Victorian gold-rush town.” After passing a plate of the illicit drugs around the table one of the writers comments, “I think I’ve died and gone to Hollywood.”
Further Crested Butte adventures included getting stuck on the chairlift and being fortunate enough to be surrounded by locals with weed—apparently including the “town sheriff” at the time.
As I’m reading this article, a guy who arrived in Crested Butte when nothing was paved called me to chat. I told him about the article and he said that back in that day, everyone thought Crested Butte was pretty much a drug-drenched town. It wasn’t as bad as the reputation, he said. Not every dinner ended with a plate of blow and not every chairlift ride was a smokefest.
In the March 1982 edition of Playboy, the magazine published a letter from the town officials saying the article wasn’t exactly a true characterization of the place. The town letter didn’t deny that there might have been a grain of truth in the reporting but they really didn’t like that sort of national press.

My friend and his family from Australia left that same Tuesday I was reading Playboy. They had spent a month in town. My buddy commented on how the visit was like coming to ski at a private ski resort. There were few lines over the MLK holiday and not many on the early-week powder days. There were none most days. During his time here, he commented on the state of the area and what might be done to get more people here and thus more energy in the place.
He pointed out the impact of social media in these modern times. Unlike an article in 1982 that would be out there for a month and either draw or repel potential visitors… in 2013 one negative review of Crested Butte could spread the word virally.
So after I put down the Playboy, I went online to see what the world wide web had to say about Crested Butte these days. The reviews, both the good and the bad, were pretty tame. Not a lot of passion either way. Many of the consumer reviews mentioned the lack of lift lines. Many described CBMR as “family-friendly.” There were kudos for the size of the resort (“tweener”—bigger than Monarch, smaller than Vail), the friendliness of the people, the beauty and the steep terrain. The “Victorian” town is mentioned quite a bit, as is the smallness of the mountain. I didn’t see many negatives except for how difficult it could be to get here, some complaints about lift ticket value and smoking on lifts.
So, we can assume that like the Playboy models pictured in the February 1982 issue of the magazine, things have changed. Less drugs and more family might be one of the main takeaways when comparing the two messages that were out there 30 years apart. But the thing to remember is that it is perception that counts. There were families here in 1982 and there are drugs here now.
It’s the message and what people see that counts. How are we different (and better) from other ski resorts? Whether it is a national publication like Playboy or blogs and review site on the Internet, how the world sees us is always a bit out of our control but the message reaches a lot of people. We can help shape that. Just like in 1982, there is a grain of truth to what’s out there now and more than anything, what we might want out there, is a bit more passion.
Now I need to get back to work. But first I better get the magazine back from Than.

PROFILE: Stephanie Lane Stephenson

“I’m not a preacher’s daughter… but I kind of am,” smiles Stephanie Stephenson, the child of a music pastor in Fort Collins. “It was my main influence. We all grew up singing and harmonizing together in church,” Stephanie says of her family.
She and her four siblings were weaned on gospel feel and sound and she admittedly prefers it, saying, “If I could listen to anything it would be a gospel choir.” So it stands to reason that between her soulful childhood environment and a genetic predisposition to music, Stephanie was definitely born to sing, and to sing well. “My first solo was in front of the whole church. I was four years old and it felt natural,” she says. Read More »

Mt. CB distributes $270k in admissions tax grant funds

Crested Butte Mountain Resort gets $226,000 for airlines

The Mt. Crested Butte Town Council turned $323,500 in admissions tax grant requests from nine local groups and organizations into $270,000 in actual funding for programs and marketing aimed at bringing more people to town during the winter season. The biggest prize, a $226,000 grant, went to help Crested Butte Mountain Resort pay for its part of airline service to the valley this winter. Read More »