The snow conditions trump the economy. Last December 11th when Ralph Garretson made his presentation at the Tourism Board’s (M.T.I.) Annual Meeting in the historic Sheridan Opera House he projected a slide that showed skier days from the 1980’s through last year. One astonishing observation was that good snow conditions had trumped previous economic down turns in the last thirty years. When snow conditions were good, people went skiing; economic conditions seemed to have a minimal effect on skier days.
This part of the presentation was viewed by many of us with suspicion; doom and gloom ruled in early December with bookings down 20%-30%. Ralph’s statistics could not be correct and the recession would surely apply to the local economic realities of the 2008-2009 holiday season. Surprise! Many visitors decided to book late and come anyway, despite the national economy and related doomsday media stories. On December 30th TelSki logged a record 8,156 skiers on the mountain and some restaurants reported business in 2008/2009 similar to the 2006/2007 season; slightly lower than our record season in 2007/2008. Good news is scarce these days, but skiers have always marched to their own beat.
Telluride had a few planned and unplanned boosts to the season. The opening of Revelation Bowl lift that gives access to some spectacular high alpine terrain surely helped, but it was a pleasure to see that our resort received high rankings in both Ski Magazine and Skiing Magazines as well as a #2 rating of Best Ski Resorts by Conde Nast Traveller. As visitors and locals know, we may not be the most convenient resort to get to, but that keeps the crowds away. Once you are in Telluride you do not need a car, lift lines are minimal, and everyone can enjoy the mountains and town at their own pace. Dad can be in the powder line (the only lift line in Telluride) at 8:00am and Mom and the kids can start at the crack of noon without the hassle of shuttling or standing in long lines. As locals, we have a great lifestyle and although it maybe a trek to our mountain Shangri-la, it looks like visitors and friends are starting to recognize this too. Hopefully, after our usual January thaw the snow will pick up again for us and our visitors to enjoy the rest of the season.