Mountain News: 

Mammoth ponders new financial tools

MAMMOTH, Calif. — As an aspiring destination resort, Mammoth is in a chicken-and-egg proposition. It does not now have the amenities that tourism officials there believe are necessary to draw visitors for more extended stays. Traditionally a weekends-use ski resort, it remains that to a greater extent than local boosters would like, despite massive expansion of base-villages by ski area operator Intrawest.

But how is this infrastructure to be financed in this build-it-and-hopefully-they-will-come vision? That, reports the Mammoth Times, is the question now before town officials and the community.

Among the ideas for generating revenues are an increase in the bed tax and the sales tax. But hoteliers turned out in force at a recent meeting to object to increasing the bed tax to 14 per cent. As one speaker said, they can’t justify charging that much when they don’t have the amenities to back it up. Better received is an increased sales tax.

And what does Mammoth need in terms of amenities? More child care, better transportation, and wireless fidelity Internet access across the town. "If we could turn this entire town into a ‘hot spot’ for Internet access, I guarantee you we would have people staying here longer," one hotelier said.

"Most people now need to work while they vacation," he added. "A lot of customers would stay four days instead of just a weekend if they could work while they are here."

Is skiing only for rich?

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. — Is skiing a rich man’s sport? Arguably not, says John Norton, ex-officio president at Crested Butte Mountain Resort.

He points to Bode Miller, who grew up in New Hampshire in a family of modest means. Home schooled, he was released to cut loose on the local ski hills, where he learned to ski fast.

Norton’s choice as the world’s best woman skier is Croatia’s Janica Kostelic. Reared in a war-torn country, her father drove her to Slovenia regularly, putting all their clothes on so they could sleep in the car. "Her father was a passionate skier, and he passed that love onto the kids. And the kids got good. And now Janica is the best," says Norton, writing in the Crested Butte News.

"It’s true we can spend lots of money on skiing – but does that make it a rich man’s sport?" adds Norton. "We all find ways to do the things we love."

Record year for retail

ASPEN, Colo. — One of Aspen’s nicknames is Glamour Gulch. Maybe it should be called Big Bucks Basin.

The town last year recorded more than $400 million in retail sales, a new record. Overall, sales were up 9.2 per cent, with only T-shirts and specialty retail items like luggage and antiques declining. Particularly impressive were sales during December, which were up 16 per cent over the previous year.

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