PURGATORY - For skiers tired of parking far away and lugging their equipment to and from the mountain, Durango Mountain Resort is providing valet parking and a range of other amenities.
For a one-time fee of $5,000 plus $50 in monthly dues, an individual gets access to the same amenities resort property owners enjoy, including an outdoor pool, private lounge, game room, fitness center and ski locker room. The cost is higher for couples and families.
The Durango Mountain Club was created as part of the new Purgatory Lodge, which opened this season. It is one example of how Purgatory is catering to families, said Gary Derck, chief executive officer of the resort.
"Everybody uses the mountain differently, so the idea is to have fun places that are comfortable to everybody," Derck said. "The idea was to create a place for families to have fun and meet other families."
Anyone can join the club, and as of Friday, DMR had sold about 40 memberships evenly split among families, couples and individuals, Derck said.
A couples membership costs $8,000 plus $75 a month; a family membership is $13,000 plus $100 in dues. The memberships are good for a lifetime and can be passed down from generation to generation, Derck said. Members are allowed to bring guests to the club.
Members can drive up to the new Purgatory Lodge, at the base of the area, where staff members greet them, take their ski equipment inside and park the car. From there, they have access to all of the private facilities that are part of the new lodge.
For the nonskier, there are several locations inside and outside to relax and read a book. The resort has teamed with Trimble Hot Springs to offer spa and massage services. It provides a continental breakfast, sit-down lunch and a private bar. The private lounge overlooks the pool and ski mountain on one side and the Needles Mountains on the other.
For the kids, there is a game room that includes a pool table, foosball, shuffleboard and board games. Two flat-screen televisions are hooked up to X-Box and Wii game systems, while a third is used for movie night, which occurs every night.
While the club does not provide a "babysitter" service, it does oversee some kids activities, like Marco Polo in the swimming pool, Derck said.
"The whole idea is to give the parents a vacation, too," he said.
If members choose, they can leave their skis and boots at the club, and wet boots will be dried overnight.
Durango resident Mike McMaude, who joined the club when it opened, said he enjoys the valet parking and quiet places to relax during the ski day. On Friday, he sat on a plush couch in front of a television watching news of the stock market.
While the club is not cheap, it is a bargain compared with similar programs at other resorts such as Telluride and Deer Valley, Utah, he said.
"It's really the convenience," he said. "You drive up, and they park your car for you. Your skis and your snowboard are right here. They hand you your warmed-up boots."
He added: "The service is great, the staff is fantastic. The mountain has done a great job of hiring people."
Don "Dirty" Hinkley, who has skied at Purgatory since 1968 and is a former Ski Patrol director at the area, said the new amenities will appeal to the high-end guests and be a money-maker for the resort.
While not a member of the Durango Mountain Club, Hinkley said he supports the new direction because it will help the ski area and real estate development at the base of the mountain, which provide jobs and an economic boon to La Plata County.
But in future developments, Hinkley said he hopes DMR will do something for the local customers - for example, build a locker room that allows people to store their skis and other belongings at an affordable rate.
"I like the idea of a high-end operation," he said. "But it's a little above the economic threshold of our local folks who have made Purgatory what it is."