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Aspen Going Downscale?

posted: 10/29/2001
by David Lipschultz

It is surely one of the world's most glamorous ski resorts, a virtual beehive of international jet-setters. And the cost of local goods and services has almost guaranteed that Aspen remains an exclusive playground.

But the Aspen Skiing Company would like that to change. With two consecutive bad-snow seasons, the company wants to bring in more people -- and fast. Upcoming discounts, they hope, will usher in duct-taped North Face jackets alongside fur coats and Bogner one-pieces. "We want to make it clear that Aspen isn't just a center of the glitzy and glamorous anymore," says Jeff Hanle, a spokesman for the company.

Step one in building the new image was last spring's controversial opening of Ajax to snowboarders. Step two will come this season in the form of discounts -- an often unfamiliar word in these parts. Snowmass, the largest of Aspen's four mountains, will begin offering discount packages to college spring breakers, a demographic usually more keen on the keg and halfpipe scene of Breck or Copper than the wine and groomers of Snowmass.

And beginning this season, discounted package deals -- including airfare, low-end lodging, and lift tickets -- will be aimed at people looking to come to Aspen on the cheap. But there's one condition: They can only ski two of the four mountains -- extreme Highlands and beginner Buttermilk. Still, the result could be a three-night, two-ski-day package with airfare from places like Chicago and L.A. for only $570 -- an unfathomable price for Aspen.

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