Tags: skiing | middle | class | afford | resort

Skiing Middle Class-Style No Longer Affordable at US Resorts

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Monday, 09 Dec 2013 11:57 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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A spike in costs at ski resorts around the country has some experts saying that the vacation industry is pricing out the middle class.

Last year, 54 percent of ski resort visitors or one skier/snowboarder riding for one day came from households earning more than $100,000, according to the National Ski Areas Association. That's up from 48 percent five years ago, a 12.5 percent increase.

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CNBC reported that households earning less than $100,000 over the same period fell from 52 percent to 46 percent, shrinking the ski industry's potential customer pool.

"They're chasing existing customers who have the money to spend rather than going after new customers," Roger Marolt, a lifelong skier and Aspen resident, told CNBC. "They're creating all these expensive amenities to attract them, which drives the price of skiing up even further."

Lift tickets alone could cost $100 per day, and winter clothing and equipment boost a ski trip into the thousands.

"You have the haves and the have mores," Douglas Quinby, principal analyst at PhoCusWright, which conducts market research on the travel industry, told CNBC. "When you factor in the airfare of the typical ski trip, the accommodations and the length of stay, you're talking about a pretty significant penny."

The Aspen Skiing Co. announced in August an increase in it its ski prices for the 2013-14 season. Public relations Manager Meredith McKee told the Aspen Times that the price increases allowed the company to offset capital improvements at its four mountains this year.

McKee said those improvements were cost more than $80 million over the past six years.

"There are very slight increases over last year," McKee said. "There’s the cost of doing business, operating the resort and the cost of staying competitive with other resorts. With the on-mountain improvements and the expanded terrain, such as the Burnt Mountain area at Snowmass, we feel like the experience and the value is better than ever for our guests."

The Salt Lake Tribune reported in August that alliances like the one where Vail Resorts will operate Canyon Resort in Park City, Utah this year, could result in lower prices for the budget-conscious skiing visitors.

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