Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Letter: Will someone with authority at Vail Resorts please stand up?

'The silence by Vail has been deafening, and goes beyond arrogance.'
Whistler Blackcomb.

Whomever is allowed to speak on behalf of Vail Resorts, please stand up.

G.D. Maxwell’s column, (“Find the love, Vail Resorts,” Pique, Jan. 5), and Ken Mason’s letter (“Letter: You don’t know what you got till it’s gone,” Pique, Jan. 12) hit the mark with regards to the management of Whistler Blackcomb since Vail Resorts took over. They covered most of the disappointments: delayed access-lift openings, the constant stopping of lifts due to maintenance issues, the poor or non-existent grooming on many runs leading to overcrowding and unsafe conditions on the few groomed runs, the poor selection and outrageous price of the food, the embarrassing and useless Epic App, as well as the insincere and self-serving questionnaire that Vail Resorts sends me after every ski day. “Do I feel excited and invigorated when I am on top of the mountain?” Of course I feel excited to be on top of one of British Columbia’s most beautiful mountains. But that is no thanks to Vail Resorts.

I felt invigorated in the ’70’s, ’80’s and ’90’s, or long before Vail Resorts had anything to do with the mountain. In fact, my excitement wanes and my anxiety rises when Vail Resorts has anything to do with my ski day. It starts with trying to find a parking spot. Vail has confiscated a quarter of the parking spots that were formerly for paying guests in Lot 5. Today those spots are reserved for staff, and the officious towing signs are everywhere. Never mind that many of the staff cars have a foot of snow on them and are obviously being warehoused there. The same situation exists in Lots 6 and 7, although to a lesser degree than in Lot 5. This year, towing has become even more aggressive, which is inexcusable. On crowded days, cars formerly could park on the side of the roadway from Lot 6 and 7, creating 30 or so spaces, but Vail has put an end to that. Why? It was never a safety concern.

I don’t want to rehash Mason’s valid comments about high-priced food, except for this: Last month I was deciding between a soup or a bowl of macaroni. The $12-plus-tax soup was thin, and was served in a wide-brimmed bowl, three-quarters full. Why do I mention the bowl? Because a wide-brimmed bowl makes soup subject to spilling while being jostled in a crowded restaurant, and soup cools to room temperature in such a bowl before a skier can find a table. Vail Resorts: you’re in the ski business. How could you not figure this out? The macaroni looked like a child’s portion (although it wasn’t meant for a child) for $14 plus tax. It looked to be marginally better than Kraft Dinner. A box of Kraft Dinner costs $2 or less retail, and provides four servings the size that Vail Resorts is serving. Four servings of Vail Dinner would cost $56 plus tax. As Mason remarked in his letter, the price of food is disgraceful and outrageous. I didn’t buy either soup or macaroni, and aside from the odd coffee, I won’t spend another nickel on Vail Resorts’ food. I’ll be bringing a backpack with a sandwich, even though Vail Resorts has removed all of the hooks that formerly allowed families to hang a backpack.

It is the morning of Jan. 17 as I write this letter. It is pouring rain outside my Whistler condo. The Epic App tells me that the village temperature is -7 C and that the alpine temperature is -9 C. I wonder if it is raining in the alpine. How would you know?  Finally, at 1:30 p.m., the app reports the correct village temperature to be 2 C. Vail Resorts: you are not only greedy, you are incompetent.

Last winter, I visited the ski areas of Revelstoke, Golden and Lake Louise. I made a point of asking the locals what they thought about their ski mountain. For the most part they were proud of their mountain, and other than small complaints, were positive about their mountain management. The restaurants were relaxed and although the quality of food might have been similar to Vail, the prices were nearly half of what Vail charges. What did surprise me was the level of local knowledge that the atmosphere was toxic at Whistler. No one wanted Vail Resorts running their ski area.

I have asked this question before in Pique, and I will ask it again. Geoff Buchheister: where is your voice in all of this? You are apparently first in command at Whistler Blackcomb, but you say nothing. Perhaps you have no authority and are not allowed to speak, in which case these problems may not be your fault. If so, please provide the name of the Vail Resorts executive who can speak on these issues to local Whistler residents. The silence by Vail has been deafening, and goes beyond arrogance. No reputable company treats their customers this way.

Jim Pipe // Whistler