At the last moment, Intrawest made the decision not to fund the higher-priced gondola that would have allowed skiers who park at the Meadows lot to use a bigger, faster, better gondola instead of the current shuttle system.
Instead, Trailhead Lodge will have to install the smaller four car “pulse” gondola originally specified in the plans.
Everyone thought the upgraded gondola was a done deal. Steamboat city planners have been racing around for the last month getting the project approved, and there was a big press conference where Ski Corp officials and Resort Ventures West confirmed they were close to inking the deal.
Apparently nobody thought to tell the city officials or reporters that there was a chance Intrawest could nix the whole thing. Last Thursday was the day that capital improvements were given the final thumbs up or thumbs down.
Unfortunately, the Wildhorse gondola upgrade got thumbs down.
I’m not holding the checkbook for Intrawest, but saving a few million dollars seems short-sighted. The gondola would replace the inefficient fleet of aging shuttles and reduce labor costs. Until recently, Steamboat had a tight labor market (about 2% unemployment).
Hourly workers get relatively high wages and the ability to hire seasonal workers from outside the US keeps getting harder as government policies keep tightening.
The upside? The shuttle driver with the big basket of candy on his bus won’t be going away soon.