“I think the biggest problem that Vail has right now is they’ve got an awful lot of pass holders and not enough bodies to provide the level of service they traditionally have provided. Whether that’s food service, whether it’s lifties, whether it’s snowmaking, whether it’s shuttle drivers, I can’t answer that. But I do see stuff all the time.”– Kim Brown, Stowe Reporter.
We have heard about the crowds and struggles over at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont, but no article has written about it as comprehensively as what the Stowe Reporter published last Thursday. One of New England’s most famous ski resorts faces many similar complaints that other Vail mountains have seen so far this season: limited staff, weak snowmaking efforts, bumper-to-bumper traffic, and layoffs for long-time employees. Here are the various problems Stowe and local skiers have dealt with so far this season:
- Snowmaking: Kim Brown, who writes a weekly ski column for the Stowe Reporter, noticed how there was no snow being made before Christmas. A lack of snowmaking efforts in critical periods has been a frequent gripe among Epic Pass holders across the Northeast this season. Brown talked with members of the snowmaking team and estimated the resort could be employing half as many as they typically do. Thanks to recent snowfall though, Stowe has 105 of their 129 trails open as of Monday.
- Traffic: Many weekends have seen bumper-to-bumper traffic coming into the resort. For perspective, the only way to get there during the winter is coming off I-89 onto the Vermont-100 and then onto Vermont-108 state highways. This one-lane road each way has been rough going for those getting to the mountain due to a lack of parking availability. The resort tried to counteract the parking and traffic issues by proposing a two hundred and eighty-six spot overfill parking lot, but the town shut this plan down in December.
- Middle Management Layoffs: Truists(a financial analysis company) and the Stowe Reporter confirmed that members of the mountain’s middle management team have been gutted over time by Vail Resorts over the past couple of years. The outsourcing of these positions to Broomfield’s centrally organized structure has fractured local relationships.
- Rise in Passholders: Before Vail bought the mountain in 2017, the ski resort had one of the most expensive season passes anywhere(over two thousand dollars!). Locals were originally stoked when pass prices came down significantly, but every rose has its thorn. Epic Passes made the mountain much more accessible to the general public, especially after all the New England mountains that they’ve acquired in recent years. Needless to say, this has caused an increase in pass holders.
- Solutions: A pivotal lift replacement will be coming to Stowe next season. The Mountain Lift (a fixed-grip triple) will be replaced by a high-speed six-pack and will be placed down the hill for easier access to those coming from the main parking lot. It’s a good step, but much more needs to be done to get Stowe back on the right track.