Is the ski resort model dead?

Topics of a general nature regarding snowsports, which don't easily fit into one of our other Liftlines categories. This is also the place to post Letters to the Editor.

Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby soulskier » Wed Dec 08, 2010 2:20 pm

Mike Bernstein wrote:
soulskier wrote:As mentioned earlier, we are conceptualizing a MRA Freestyle area. This would be totally different experience than lift served big mountain skiing, but with the same core hippy values, incorporating clean energy and social responsibility into the business model.

So yes, it's about big terrain still, this is another type of project all together.

Diversifying away from your core business model/idea before you're even in business - always a solid plan. :roll:


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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:20 pm

we are conceptualizing a MRA Freestyle area

This is hardly a new concept either. We've had freestyle park intensive areas in SoCal for quite awhile now. They are quite successful in attracting the younger generation and even competing with the more distant (thus more expensive) "real mountain with real snow" at Mammoth. Parks are a big shot in the arm to snow and vertical challenged areas in the Midwest and near urban centers. But to build a world class park you need big time snowmaking. So perhaps there's more of an incentive to produce one's own energy here than in the original MRA concept since you'll be using a lot of it. You'll still need some government incentives to make it work though.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby soulskier » Thu Dec 09, 2010 1:05 am

Tony Crocker wrote:
we are conceptualizing a MRA Freestyle area

This is hardly a new concept either. We've had freestyle park intensive areas in SoCal for quite awhile now. They are quite successful in attracting the younger generation and even competing with the more distant (thus more expensive) "real mountain with real snow" at Mammoth. Parks are a big shot in the arm to snow and vertical challenged areas in the Midwest and near urban centers. But to build a world class park you need big time snowmaking. So perhaps there's more of an incentive to produce one's own energy here than in the original MRA concept since you'll be using a lot of it. You'll still need some government incentives to make it work though.


Any idea if it has been done in an actual urban setting, in the center of a populated city for example?
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby Admin » Thu Dec 09, 2010 8:07 am

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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby soulskier » Thu Dec 09, 2010 11:58 am



Thanks for that Admin!
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:06 pm

soulskier wrote:Any idea if it has been done in an actual urban setting, in the center of a populated city for example?

Calgary Olympic Park is a good example, but we know how that got financed.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby soulskier » Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:29 pm

Mike Bernstein wrote:
soulskier wrote:As mentioned earlier, we are conceptualizing a MRA Freestyle area. This would be totally different experience than lift served big mountain skiing, but with the same core hippy values, incorporating clean energy and social responsibility into the business model.

So yes, it's about big terrain still, this is another type of project all together.

Diversifying away from your core business model/idea before you're even in business - always a solid plan. :roll:


The beauty is, it's applying the same core values, Community, Environment and Riders to the operating and business model.

It can be a lower angle family hill, a jib center or a big mountain arena, and still fit within our mantra, "Creating Sustainable Mountain Playgrounds".
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby Mike Bernstein » Tue Jan 25, 2011 5:37 pm

soulskier wrote:
Mike Bernstein wrote:
soulskier wrote:As mentioned earlier, we are conceptualizing a MRA Freestyle area. This would be totally different experience than lift served big mountain skiing, but with the same core hippy values, incorporating clean energy and social responsibility into the business model.

So yes, it's about big terrain still, this is another type of project all together.

Diversifying away from your core business model/idea before you're even in business - always a solid plan. :roll:


The beauty is, it's applying the same core values, Community, Environment and Riders to the operating and business model.

It can be a lower angle family hill, a jib center or a big mountain arena, and still fit within our mantra, "Creating Sustainable Mountain Playgrounds".


I'm going to try this one last time, b/c apparently the message isn't sinking in. Let me try using a personal anecdote from my previous career. I used to work for a massive beverage and snacks company. They had a long and well-earned reputation for hitting their revenue/volume targets quarter after quarter, year after year in their core soda and bottled water business. As you may be aware, over the last 10-15 years the beverage market has seen significant growth in "alternative" beverages, be it energy drinks, teas, coffees, juices, enhanced waters - whatever. Whereas it used to be soda and water, now there's a million different brands and categories competing for attention.

When it became obvious that this trend was not just a fad but was in fact a paradigm shift, that company quickly and eagerly jumped on board, creating new brands of its own and buying or licensing other successful brands. The logic was flawless - we already sent delivery trucks and sales people to every single convenience store, gas station, supermarket, and restaurant every day of the week. It would be an absolute no-brainer to simply place these new brands on those same trucks, and have our existing salespeople leverage their relationships to drive additional volume in their accounts. Same trucks, same people, same company, same customers and, in some cases, same consumers. A total lay-up, right?

Wrong. For the first time anyone could remember, our bottlers started missing their sales targets for these beverages. Despite millions of dollars of ad spending behind us and an army of tens of thousands of salespeople and deliverymen, the brands we had in our portfolio were actually losing share to smaller competitors. As it turns out, what looked like such a lay-up was a very different sale than our traditional soda business. Smaller volumes, less/different shelf space, different margins in the channel, different consumption patterns, and sometimes different consumers. What seemed to even industry experts/veterans as being identical businesses were in fact very different.

Why am I telling you this story? Because it's clear you are underestimating just how different the two business models you are proposing are from one another. Having the same core values re: community, environment and riders is essentially irrelevant in the larger scheme of how you are going to profitably operate those two ski areas on a day to day basis. You will be marketing to an almost completely different skier/rider, dealing with a completely different set of mtn ops challenges (avi control/snow safety vs. snowmaking/park maintenance), a vastly higher liability exposure, a radically different expense budget composition and, of course, an entirely different set of regulatory obstacles (by definition, the urban jib park is likely to be on private land and subject to some form of zoning/oversight vs. the freeride area which will be on NFS/Crown land). It is disturbing to me that you not only fail to see this, but in fact refuse to acknowledge these (and other) substantial differences even when they are pointed out to you. And this is before we even discuss the absurdity of trying to create a "green" urban jib park that is reliant largely on man-made snow and night skiing, both of which consume huge amounts of energy.

Jamie - the larger point here is that, even if the urban jib park were a good idea with lots of synergies/similarities with your freeride area, you would be wise to crawl before you try to walk, and walk before you try to run. As stated in the other thread, there's only so much time in the day. How much of your work day are you willing to ignore the mgmt needs of your freeride area (there will be many) in favor or focusing on the completely different needs and priorities of your urban jib area? Two hours? Three? Is that fair to the employees and/or investors of either area that they aren't getting your full attention? Even if you plan to hire someone to look after the jib area so you don't have to, do you think that's the best use of scarce start-up capital when that same money could be used to hire a kick-ass mtn ops manager or snow safety director (I hear there's a really good one looking for work in Alberta) for the freeride area?

You need to think long and hard about this b/c all of your public utterances leave the impression that you're caught up in the coolness of spreading your "core values" w/o realizing that if you don't focus on your core business, you'll have no platform from which to spread your "core values". In other words, no one gives a [censored] how green, or core, or community-friendly you are when you are out of business. You'll just be another clueless dreamer with internet access spewing banal platitudes about the evils of the ski industry.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby soulskier » Tue Jan 25, 2011 6:03 pm

Mike Bernstein wrote:
I'm going to try this one last time, b/c apparently the message isn't sinking in. Let me try using a personal anecdote from my previous career. I used to work for a massive beverage and snacks company. They had a long and well-earned reputation for hitting their revenue/volume targets quarter after quarter, year after year in their core soda and bottled water business. As you may be aware, over the last 10-15 years the beverage market has seen significant growth in "alternative" beverages, be it energy drinks, teas, coffees, juices, enhanced waters - whatever. Whereas it used to be soda and water, now there's a million different brands and categories competing for attention.

When it became obvious that this trend was not just a fad but was in fact a paradigm shift, that company quickly and eagerly jumped on board, creating new brands of its own and buying or licensing other successful brands. The logic was flawless - we already sent delivery trucks and sales people to every single convenience store, gas station, supermarket, and restaurant every day of the week. It would be an absolute no-brainer to simply place these new brands on those same trucks, and have our existing salespeople leverage their relationships to drive additional volume in their accounts. Same trucks, same people, same company, same customers and, in some cases, same consumers. A total lay-up, right?

Wrong. For the first time anyone could remember, our bottlers started missing their sales targets for these beverages. Despite millions of dollars of ad spending behind us and an army of tens of thousands of salespeople and deliverymen, the brands we had in our portfolio were actually losing share to smaller competitors. As it turns out, what looked like such a lay-up was a very different sale than our traditional soda business. Smaller volumes, less/different shelf space, different margins in the channel, different consumption patterns, and sometimes different consumers. What seemed to even industry experts/veterans as being identical businesses were in fact very different.

Why am I telling you this story? Because it's clear you are underestimating just how different the two business models you are proposing are from one another. Having the same core values re: community, environment and riders is essentially irrelevant in the larger scheme of how you are going to profitably operate those two ski areas on a day to day basis. You will be marketing to an almost completely different skier/rider, dealing with a completely different set of mtn ops challenges (avi control/snow safety vs. snowmaking/park maintenance), a vastly higher liability exposure, a radically different expense budget composition and, of course, an entirely different set of regulatory obstacles (by definition, the urban jib park is likely to be on private land and subject to some form of zoning/oversight vs. the freeride area which will be on NFS/Crown land). It is disturbing to me that you not only fail to see this, but in fact refuse to acknowledge these (and other) substantial differences even when they are pointed out to you. And this is before we even discuss the absurdity of trying to create a "green" urban jib park that is reliant largely on man-made snow and night skiing, both of which consume huge amounts of energy.

Jamie - the larger point here is that, even if the urban jib park were a good idea with lots of synergies/similarities with your freeride area, you would be wise to crawl before you try to walk, and walk before you try to run. As stated in the other thread, there's only so much time in the day. How much of your work day are you willing to ignore the mgmt needs of your freeride area (there will be many) in favor or focusing on the completely different needs and priorities of your urban jib area? Two hours? Three? Is that fair to the employees and/or investors of either area that they aren't getting your full attention? Even if you plan to hire someone to look after the jib area so you don't have to, do you think that's the best use of scarce start-up capital when that same money could be used to hire a kick-ass mtn ops manager or snow safety director (I hear there's a really good one looking for work in Alberta) for the freeride area?

You need to think long and hard about this b/c all of your public utterances leave the impression that you're caught up in the coolness of spreading your "core values" w/o realizing that if you don't focus on your core business, you'll have no platform from which to spread your "core values". In other words, no one gives a [censored] how green, or core, or community-friendly you are when you are out of business. You'll just be another clueless dreamer with internet access spewing banal platitudes about the evils of the ski industry.



MRA currently has over 70 people actively working together to forward the organization. We are having a think tank scheduled for next month that includes some industry veterans. We have several graduate students that are doing their thesis on different components of the MRA business plan. Some of them will even be aiding in the grant writing. I feel confident we can multi-task on various projects and share best practices under the same parent company.

BTW, I am the only one of the group that posts here, nice to know ya.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby Mike Bernstein » Tue Jan 25, 2011 6:24 pm

soulskier wrote: MRA currently has over 70 people actively working together to forward the organization. We are having a think tank scheduled for next month that includes some industry veterans. We have several graduate students that are doing their thesis on different components of the MRA business plan. Some of them will even be aiding in the grant writing. I feel confident we can multi-task on various projects and share best practices under the same parent company.


How many of those 70 people are working on the MRA full-time? How many have practical experience with any of the issues you are facing? To what exent are their efforts being directed or managed on a consistent basis so that you can ensure that the agenda is being pushed forward correctly and at the necessary speed?

It's great that you are having a brain storming session with industry veterans - what about the follow up? Do you have an organization in place that is capable of executing on the good ideas they come up with?

As for the graduate students, that seems like a better deal for them than for you. There are lots of businesses where students form an important component of the workforce. They are called fast food restaurants.

I wish you the best of luck here. You're going to need it.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby soulskier » Wed Jan 26, 2011 10:53 am

Mike Bernstein wrote:
soulskier wrote: MRA currently has over 70 people actively working together to forward the organization. We are having a think tank scheduled for next month that includes some industry veterans. We have several graduate students that are doing their thesis on different components of the MRA business plan. Some of them will even be aiding in the grant writing. I feel confident we can multi-task on various projects and share best practices under the same parent company.


How many of those 70 people are working on the MRA full-time? How many have practical experience with any of the issues you are facing? To what exent are their efforts being directed or managed on a consistent basis so that you can ensure that the agenda is being pushed forward correctly and at the necessary speed?

It's great that you are having a brain storming session with industry veterans - what about the follow up? Do you have an organization in place that is capable of executing on the good ideas they come up with?

As for the graduate students, that seems like a better deal for them than for you. There are lots of businesses where students form an important component of the workforce. They are called fast food restaurants.

I wish you the best of luck here. You're going to need it.


Thanks for your confidence!
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby Admin » Wed Jan 26, 2011 11:01 am

soulskier wrote:Thanks for your confidence!


Which completely ignores the relevant issues that Bernstein has raised. Why not answer the questions directly? Surely potential investors will have the same questions, and I doubt that they'd be pleased with that answer.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby rfarren » Wed Jan 26, 2011 11:57 am

I think it would be best for Soulskier not to see these comments as attacks, but rather arguments that might be made by potential investors. He should use this forum as preparation for these types of questions that very well could be asked. On this forum he can't be hurt, but when actual investors come knocking on the door this online vetting could be quite useful. Therefore, I think it would behoove him to strive to make strong answers and where he doesn't have answers he should research as to answer the question at a later date.

I believe that most of us on this forum would love to see a ski area such as the one he proposes. I find it disheartening that Soulskier responds antagonistically to questions and points that are valid rather than taking a more thoughtful approach. I would imagine any business that requires investment needs an unbelievable amount of prep, confidence, but also a fair amount of skepticism. I think it's best to be prepared for all sorts of unseeable things that can derail your business plan.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby Mike Bernstein » Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:06 pm

rfarren wrote:I think it would be best for Soulskier not to see these comments as attacks, but rather arguments that might be made by potential investors. He should use this forum as preparation for these types of questions that very well could be asked. On this forum he can't be hurt, but when actual investors come knocking on the door this online vetting could be quite useful. Therefore, I think it would behoove him to strive to make strong answers and where he doesn't have answers he should research as to answer the question at a later date.

I believe that most of us on this forum would love to see a ski area such as the one he proposes. I find it disheartening that Soulskier responds antagonistically to questions and points that are valid rather than taking a more thoughtful approach. I would imagine any business that requires investment needs an unbelievable amount of prep, confidence, but also a fair amount of skepticism. I think it's best to be prepared for all sorts of unseeable things that can derail your business plan.


No man, you just don't "get it". I have nothing to learn from a bunch of desk jockeys who don't open it up to Mach 3 on 40 deg pitches for 2000' at a time. It's clear you are just another toadie for the corporate ski industry who can't see how transformative our valued-based ski-energy center model will be. (/soulskier)
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby soulskier » Wed Jan 26, 2011 7:22 pm

rfarren wrote:I think it would be best for Soulskier not to see these comments as attacks, but rather arguments that might be made by potential investors. He should use this forum as preparation for these types of questions that very well could be asked. On this forum he can't be hurt, but when actual investors come knocking on the door this online vetting could be quite useful. Therefore, I think it would behoove him to strive to make strong answers and where he doesn't have answers he should research as to answer the question at a later date.

I believe that most of us on this forum would love to see a ski area such as the one he proposes. I find it disheartening that Soulskier responds antagonistically to questions and points that are valid rather than taking a more thoughtful approach. I would imagine any business that requires investment needs an unbelievable amount of prep, confidence, but also a fair amount of skepticism. I think it's best to be prepared for all sorts of unseeable things that can derail your business plan.


Rob, you have the first part spot on. I don't feel compelled or the need to answer questions here, but rest assured the awesome critique the board offers is being carefully detailed.
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