Aspen goes for sexy 

Is Whistler sexy? Or can it rely on its "status" to compete with the new edgy advertising campaign of one its major competitors?

Aspen is set to launch a new half million dollar image campaign aimed at seducing winter visitors into its mountains.

Titled "The Aspen Effect," the new strategy focuses on that "feeling" you get in paradise, using such words as "serene, sensual and evolved." The Aspen Chamber Resort Association unveiled the new marketing plan recently, including one Web site banner ad that reads "Persons viewed in mirror may appear sexier that ever before."

Mail out ads for the Colorado resort offer the chance to meet someone "dynamic, exciting, attractive, charismatic and sexy," and in parenthesis, "It might be you."

John Sarpa, chairman of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association?s marketing advisory committee, told the Aspen Times the new campaign is intentionally "edgy."

"There is such vigorous competition out there. Aspen is in combat for tourism, and it?s a war. There are only so many people travelling in this sect, so we have to be risky," he said.

The new campaign comes just weeks after an independent research agency, PRACO, revealed that young, affluent, active city folk viewed the resort as "too glitzy." Feedback from upwardly mobile 25-44 year old urban residents included comments like "too snobbish" and "socialite skiing and shopping." The study recommended that Aspen move towards portraying itself as social and inclusive, a place where you don?t have to dress too formally or sophisticated. There was no mention of dressing sexy.

Ironically, The Aspen Effect is funded by a new lodging tax imposed back in January. The one per cent tax on short term accommodation is paying to dispel the fears that Aspen is "overpriced," also a concern of the 200 sensation seekers interviewed by PRACO. The Aspen Chamber Resort Association hopes the campaign will increase hotel occupancy levels and visitor expenditures by $2.4-million over the next two years.

The campaign is aimed at travellers who have the means to vacation in Aspen, but for one reason or another they haven?t.

So how does Whistler portray itself to the rest of the world? The 2001/2002 Whistler Winter Travel Planner, published each year by Tourism Whistler, includes all the scenic shots of the mountains, hotels and activities the area has to offer. Photos are both elegant and exciting, depicting a complete, luxurious experience.

And the brochure includes the facts to back it up. "Number One Ski Resort in North America," "Longest Ski Season In Canada," "Savory Alpine Dining," "Big Weather, Best Snow" are just a few of the headlines that greet readers on the opening pages.

Will Aspen?s new racy image sway skiers and boarders from Whistler? Or are snow sliders just too sexy for Aspen?

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