Ever since I can remember, my family and I have bought season passes to Durango Mountain Resort - until this year.
Instead, we drove four hours to Albuquerque in order to get the best possible deal on passes for the snowy season. And that was still a whopping $40 per day pass, with a limit of four tickets per person. What's that all about?
This year, prices sky-rocketed. Without getting a pass early - which I must admit is the smartest way to go - an adult pass is priced at $859; a pass for a high school or middle school student is $449; for a child age 6 to 12 a pass is $329; for those 62-69 (the silver age) it is $619, and for 70 and older (the golden age) it is only $129. This means that for my family, which includes two adults, a high school student, and a 10-year-old, it would have cost us $2,496 for everyone to get a pass - and with the economy the way it is now, that was unthinkable.
For those who may not ski or board a lot - and feel there is no need to purchase a season's pass - window ticket rates also have been raised.
For a full day, it is $62 for an adult; $34 for kids 6 to 12; $49 for a middle school to high school student; $49 for the silver age and $22 for the golden. And this is during regular season. During the holidays, instead of being generous, DMR is greedy, and raises its prices from $2 to $6 per ticket.
In addition to increasing the prices of tickets and passes, the cost of ski rentals, lockers, lessons and food has gone up, as well. The other day, my family and I grabbed our handy-dandy Albuquerque-bought tickets and packed into our Expedition for a fun-filled day at DMR. When we met up for lunch, we ordered two burgers, some chili fries, regular fries, Skittles and two drinks - and were given a $50 tab. Now not only has our tradition of getting season passes dwindled away, but so has our eating at the resort. Now we pack lunches.
To me, the money thing doesn't make any sense whatsoever. It seems like DMR is trying to make more money off of less, instead of making more money off of more. In other words, the resort is relying on the fact that its prices are so high that it won't matter if families like mine stop eating or buying passes. If DMR didn't empty peoples' pockets so fast, people might stick around for a little longer and end up spending even more.
The way I see it, if DMR didn't make everything so expensive, the mountain could benefit more than it does now, especially from the locals.
Though the resort has offered a whole three days of local appreciation this season, it doesn't seem to help all that much. While our small community suffers from this economic downfall, DMR rakes in the money, and to me it just doesn't seem very fair.
Now, I may not understand the business world to its full extent, but I know that a little local appreciation would not hurt DMR. And I am not talking about a few days here and there where passes are $10 off if you are a Durango resident.
I am talking some serious upgrades, like food coupons in the mail (kind of cheesy, but it could work). Or local deals on passes, like $40 off per pass. Or possibly a local punch pass where if a person goes to the mountain a certain number of times, he receives a free ticket - even a free half-day ticket would do some good.
Despite my many complaints, I also think the new improvements are nice, the pool is awesome and almost all the employees are fun to be around. Though many think Purgy's is awful compared to what it used to be, I think that it is a great improvement and that the burgers are way better than in previous years.
I just wish we locals - the ones who make this resort what it is - could get a little bit more gratitude, and even though DMR most likely also is suffering from this economic crisis, maybe the resort would think about its town that is facing the same challenges. Maybe then I wouldn't have to pack lunches.
Jessica Marshall is editor of El Diablo.
She is the daughter of Rebecca and Joe MacLaren and John and Pam Marshall.