By Allen Best

Aspen Skiing CEO accuses

local skiers of pass snobbery

ASPEN, Colo. — After a bum snow winter in 2017-18, Aspen was blessed last winter. The ski season lasted 168 days, the longest since the ski area opened in 1946.

But lift lines were long, with some blaming Alterra Mountain Co.’s Ikon Pass. Someone even produced a bumper sticker: “Stop Ikonizing Aspen.”

The pass offered by Alterra, which is partly owned by the Crown family, owners of Aspen Skiing Co., provided five to seven days of skiing at Aspen-area resorts. And passholders did throng Aspen, according to reports by Mike Kaplan, the ski company’s chief executive.

In a recent report to the Aspen City Council and at a public meeting covered by the Aspen Times, Kaplan defended the Ikon Pass as a strategic way to introduce Aspen to new skiers and diversify its customer base. The irony, he said, is that the company often gets criticized for catering to the rich and famous. He called the Ikon Pass pushback “blatant snobbery.”

Of the Ikon Pass skiers, 70% were new to Aspen, Kaplan said. He cited one day described by the Times as the “fabulous powder Sunday of March 3,” when 3,420 skiers and snowboarders were at Aspen Highlands, one of the company’s four ski areas. A 40-minute lift line occurred. The ski company concluded that 129 of the 800 skiers on the lift had Ikon passes and 400 were local passholders. Without the Ikon passholders, the line would have been 36 minutes long, Kaplan said.

Local resident Try Kinkead objected.

“We pay a premium price expecting a premium product,” he wrote in a letter published in the Times. “It’s not a question of who, but rather how many.”

Breasts bared in Whistler,

but to good or bad effect?

WHISTLER, B.C. — On a recent Sunday afternoon, women wearing nothing above their waists marched from the Olympic Rings in Whistler Village to the base of the ski mountain. Their point?

“Men’s breasts can be just as sexy as women’s breasts,” said participant Denise Belisle. “Or they can be quite unsexy, and they’re still allowed to be in public, right? So for me, that’s the whole reason behind it ... to break the stigma that breasts are sexual. It’s a big stigma to break, and that’s what we’re hoping to accomplish, and build up women’s equality in all areas of our lives.”

But a resident of the Whistler area saw the display as flawed: “It only serves to encourage sexualizing women and disrespect/disregard for their bodies and not in any regard makes them gender-equal to men as they claim,” wrote Gail McKellar in a letter published by Pique Newsmagazine.

Telluride to consider 2.5%

tax on short-term rentals

TELLURIDE, Colo. — Telluride voters in November will decide whether to institute a 2.5% special excise tax on short-term rentals, in addition to already levied lodging taxes.

A divided town council had declined to adopt such a tax last year. The new drive to put the tax before voters was initiated by a group of citizens who believe that the proliferation of short-term rentals has hurt the housing market for working locals, reported the Telluride Daily Planet.

Pepper Raper, one of those behind the vote, defended the excise tax as a means to provide revenue for affordable housing.

“A vote for affordable housing is a vote for the economy,” she said.“We want a workforce that can be here on time.”

But there is much opposition. Stacey Ticsay, who runs a business that cleans short-term rentals, told council members that Airbnbs allow her to pay her mortgage. And Michael Martelon of the Telluride Tourism Board echoed the warning of Telluride Ski and Golf Resort CEO Bill Jensen, who had discouraged the town council last year from adopting such a tax by warning of unintended consequences.

If adopted, the total state and local taxes levied on lodging in Telluride, currently 12.65%, would reach 15.15%, said Kevin Geiger, the town attorney.

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