(AP) — Vail Resorts Inc. says that $10-plus burger in the ski resort cafeteria is going to taste a whole lot better this season.
The Broomfield-based company is spiffing up the food and ski school offerings at its five resorts as part of efforts to boost spending by skiers who may be splurging less in a down economy.
Vail Resorts reported a 6.2 percent drop overall in skier visits to Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone and Breckenridge in Colorado and to Heavenly in California last season through mid-April from the season before amid a recession. Many skiers and snowboarders who visited spent less on food and ski school.
This season, burgers that have been among the most popular sellers at mountain restaurants will have better ingredients like fresh Angus beef and organic cheese, but the price for customers will stay the same. Resorts also will offer prepaid meal cards with discounts built in and value options for a certain drink, entree and side combination for $9.95.
The idea is to get people who avoided mountain restaurants or bought only a candy bar last season to enjoy a meal there instead, CEO Rob Katz said Wednesday. The company will absorb the costs of more expensive ingredients.
Boosting value for skiers and snowboarders should help persuade guests to return, Katz said.
"The name of the game in travel is guest loyalty," Katz said.
Vail Resorts also plans to make ski school staff available as guides for people who want tips and an insider's help finding fresh powder without having to buy a standard ski school lesson, which can cost more than $600 for private instruction. Guests would be grouped with people of similar abilities, and the cost would be comparable to a group lesson, or close to $120 per person, Katz said.