As I was reading Denver’s 5280 magazine, I discovered an article about Nederland’s local ski area, Eldora Mountain Resort, and its proposed expansion plan. The writer’s opinion depicted Eldora as more of a local’s place with some beautiful trails, and mused that expanding may take away the local flavor. Of course, the owners and ski enthusiasts see it differently, wanting to have more terrain, improvements, and make more money. It would be easy to assume that the town of Nederland would be all for this — more skiers means more business for the town, right? Surprisingly, very few people I know who reside in Nederland or own businesses favor this option. Nederland has always marched to its own drummer. Many years ago, there was an effort to incorporate Nederland into the City of Boulder, and it was staunchly quashed. In fact, Nederland receives very little business from skiers passing through on its way to Eldora. More importantly, most residents of the area are nature lovers and conservationists, and worry about the repercussions of expansion on the wilderness areas adjacent to the ski area.
Throughout my life, when residing in gateway towns to resorts, national parks, I’ve seen what I call these love/hate relationships. On the one hand, ski resorts and parks can generate visitor traffic and boost the economy. On the other hand, people value the character and quiet of their community, and don’t want people creating traffic jams or disrupting the solitude they cherish. I myself, have mixed emotions about the proposed expansion for different reasons. I love skiing, and appreciate having skiing nearby as a great perk of where we live. But on the other hand, I believe ski resorts have a duty to be responsible members of our community and be good neighbors. And in that sense, I haven’t experienced that with the current owners of Eldora. If anything, they try to take advantage of locals, thinking their proximity gives them the right to charge outrageous prices, and provide lousy customer service. Their policies are the antithesis of good customer service, with a no refund/exchange policy on just about anything they sell, from their retail shop, to lessons, to lift tickets. They reached a new low last winter, when one of their main lifts servicing the back side, Corona, broke down, forcing skiers to walk back up the ski slope in their ski boots, and refusing to give them a voucher or credit for another’s day skiing.
I’ve spent a fair amount of my career working for resorts, including four different ski resorts. I believe ski resorts provide a wonderful opportunity for people to enjoy outdoor recreation in our beautiful state and have no problem supporting them making a profit. But before I would support Edlora tearing up more of our beautiful Indian Peaks wilderness to expand, they have to demonstrate they are a responsible, caring part of our local Nederland community. And that is something I haven’t seen yet.