One steamy August evening, I chilled out in Chelsea, attending the ski.com media party in New York City. Don’t ask how a cross-country skiing diehard got on their mailing list; I can’t figure it out myself. But any opportunity to talk skiing, meet new people and eat free hors d’ouevres, I’m there.
Based in Aspen, CO, Ski.com is a leading provider of ski vacations. They arranged for representatives from several western U.S. and Canadian alpine resorts and hotels to exhibit at Chelsea’s Glass House.
Twenty years’ worth of wine business trade shows has turned me in to a connoisseur of event spaces. The Glass House is one of the nicer venues that I’ve seen. The 21st floor room was cool and minimalist; an airy balcony offered fresh air – or what passes for fresh in Manhattan – with fabulous views to the west and south. When I wasn’t speaking with hotel or mountain reps, I scoped the ship traffic in the Hudson River.
You want to go to Aspen? They can hook you up. Perhaps Jackson Hole is more your style? No worries. Jonesing to burn through your Wall Street bonus? Banff’s CMH Heli-Skiing was on hand to discuss guided trips in Canada’s Bugaboo Mountains. Some of their 11 lodges are only accessible by helicopter. “It’s an aspirational trip,” the representative explained, adding that CMH guaranteed patrons 70,000 feet of vertical in a trip.
And it wasn’t 100% alpine skiing. Erica Reiter reminded me that Crested Butte boasts 55 km of groomed cross-country ski trails. She dished dirt on the Elk Mountain Traverse, the epic 40-mile race that traces the 19th century mail route between Crested Butte and Aspen. She was too modest to tell me she won in 2012.
While extolling Red Mountain’s old-school alpine vibe, marketing VP Fran Richards said they’re also putting in cross-country ski trails. When their nordic operation opens, it’ll have more of a backcountry vibe. But if you want groomed trails, they’re right next to Rossland BC’s Black Jack municipal groomed xc ski trails.
So, why would anyone want to use a ski travel agent to organize a ski vacation?
In July, my family spent two weeks in China. We used a travel agent: I can’t imagine the legwork to arrange in-country travel, compare hotels in five cities, find the sights we want to see, and hire guides. Not to mention booking air travel to and from China. Even using an agency, my wife and I spent considerable time on the phone and e-mail.
Dirtbag skiers will always find a way to get in the tracks or on the mountain, and they’ll be looking for alternative lodging. If you live in the northeast, you likely don’t need a travel agent to organize a trip to Lake Placid or Stowe. But if you’ve never been out west and you need to find lodging, a rental car and etc., a ski travel agent might be a good option rather than doing the legwork yourself.