Vail Adds More Ski Programs to Attract Women
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Vail has made one fact abundantly clear: it wants women skiers. After all, women are the primary decision makers when it comes to family vacation destinations, according to multiple travel surveys, and many gravitate to ski resorts.
The big Colorado resort has created special seminars, workshops and instruction clinics for women, from beginners to experts, with female instructors to teach them in a less intimidating environment.
“Women want to do it right and learn to ski correctly,” said Ingie Franberg, Vail’s product manager, adult specialty programs. “They like to socialize, meet new people and find other like-minded skiers.”
READ MORE: Get to Know the West’s Ultimate Ski Escapes
Women ski programs at Vail are not exactly new: The resort’s signature Her Turn program — in which female ski instructors use video and individual coaching to teach participants — started 25 years ago, Franberg said. But over the years, the number of programs targeting women has multiplied.
Recently introduced ones include day-long Women Workshops; Women’s Ultimate 4 group lessons for up to four women, timed to coincide with children’s ski school hours; a new Women & Wine FAC (Friday Afternoon Club) program that includes a half-day afternoon lesson ending with a glass of wine; and Skadi Fest, a new January event featuring demos, clinics and VIP experiences for women only. Women can even demo female-specific equipment for free on various dates throughout the season.
Vail even makes it easy for mothers with young children to ski. The resort has the Golden Peak Nursery for children aged two months to six years, with age appropriate activities and separate playrooms for infants (2 to 15 months), toddlers (16 to 29 months) and preschoolers (30 months to 6 years).
Family members not into downhill skiing have plenty of alternate activities to choose from, including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and visiting the Nature Discovery Center. At the resort’s Adventure Ridge, there’s tubing and ski biking (a bike-like device with skis instead of wheels).
For many women, the biggest appeal of all-women sessions is the camaraderie, along with the inherent cost savings. For example, Her Turn is a three-day clinic that includes rental equipment for 50 percent off, complimentary breakfast the first morning, after-ski socializing, a gift bag, complimentary equipment storage, and a discount at Vail Sports on equipment and soft goods. Participants range in age from 30s to 90s, Franberg said, although they’re typically in their 50s.
Women often participate in female-only classes either as part of a girls’ getaway or solo, Franberg said, but solo doesn’t always mean single. A woman may partake in female-only instruction while her significant other, who may be a better skier, skis on his own, she said.
Vail has other aspects that appeal to women travelers, like healthy and gourmet food choices and hotels with luxurious spas. On Vail Mountain, the 10-passenger Gondola One has heated, cushioned seats and free Wi-Fi. This season, Vail’s EpicMix smartphone app allows guests at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone to access real-time chairlift and gondola wait times across 55 core lifts and gondolas. The app will eventually report wait times at on-mountain restaurants and rental shops.
The EpicMix ski pass also has RFID technology that allows skiers to track, via the app, the number of vertical feet they ski, number of lift rides and other data and share it on social media.
Women’s programs are not limited to Vail. Other ski areas owned by Vail Resorts also have some, including Beaver Creek, with its women’s social tour; Breckenridge, with a women’s ski week; and Keystone, with its two-day “Betty Fest.” Those resorts also offer daycare facilities for children.
All of the new women’s ski programs will continue next year. For spring 2016, Women’s Ultimate 4 lessons run through April 4 at all four of Vail Resort’s Colorado locations, as well as Park City, Utah; and Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe.
In the battle for female travelers, Vail Resorts has upped its game, making it easy for women—and their families—to enjoy time on the slopes.
More by Karen Goodwin
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