“Vail has ruined the culture of Stevens Pass. And people don’t want to work here anymore. Our poor little mountain is getting run into the ground by big corporate America.”– Stevens Pass Employee
After news surfaced last week of a petition aimed at accountability for Vail Resorts’ confusing operating strategy for Stevens Pass, the situation at the Washington ski area has gained national attention. The petition has now over 30,000 signatures as of Wednesday. To add to this, at least a dozen people have filed complaints with the state of Washington’s Attorney Generals Office. The HerladNet spoke with employees about the situation, and it’s a doozy. I recommend reading it in full, but here are some of the main points from the article:
- Delayed Opening: In response to the mountain’s two-week opening day delay, Vail Resorts gave workers a $25 gift card to grocery stores that are over an hour away from the mountain. They also gave them a small package of food. This doesn’t really seem like enough to get through one week of unemployment and start the “****-show” that the season has become for employees, guests, and the resort.
- Worker Pay and Benefits: Wages start at $15, which may sound nice in most states, but it’s only .51 cents above Washingtons’ minimum wage. Perks have dwindled since Vail’s purchase in 2018, and employees have lost their ride breaks during shifts. In what has become a common criticism of Vail, their human resources have been shifted off property to an online platform. Employee housing is scarce on the property, and the nearest towns are around an hour away.
- Employees Working Multiple Positions: Because of worker shortages, people have had to work multiple positions. Members of the food and beverage, ski school, maintenance, and ski patrollers have been called to run the lifts during certain points of this season. Due to the lack of proper training for these employees, lift operators have called this practice a potential safety hazard.
- Closed Terrain and Lodges: In spite of all local resorts having most of their terrain open, Stevens has only about half of their trails and lifts open. Two lodges, and the two restaurants/bars inside each one, have been closed so far this season. With fewer lifts and lodges being open, lift lines have become a part of the experience.
- Traffic and Parking Issues: A lack of employees in the parking department has led to traffic jams and limited parking at the resort. They are struggling to direct traffic, shovel snow out of the lot, and shuttle people from the farther away parking lots. RV parking spaces for overnight guests, one of the unique features of Stevens Pass, have been slashed significantly.
- A Local Skier of 35 Years Sums Up the Issues with Vails Subscription model: “Stevens is not a vacation destination. It is not situated amongst luxury condos, fancy restaurants, and ski mansions, but instead nestled in the natural beauty of the Cascades, on rugged terrain that in 1910 witnessed the deadliest avalanche in US history. The best skiing is expert, steep terrain on the backside & in the trees. Trying to cram the base area with tourists overwhelms the local infrastructure and frustrates both the tourists (and) locals alike. Vail Resorts either needs to realize this & operate the area accordingly, or sell to someone who will.”