Last week, we reported that Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, owned by KSL Capital, made the decision to combine the Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley websites into one unified site. The new site abandons the use of the Alpine Meadows logo in favor of the Squaw Valley logo. More importantly, it delivers an experience that requires users to wade through a site that includes more information about accommodations, shopping and dining than about skiing. The Squawpologists will rise defensively to note that it’s not yet ski season, but the keen observer will know that the Squaw website looks that way mid-season too. It’s just like the ski experience at Squaw, which requires walking the gauntlet of hotels, restaurants and shopping opportunities, just to reach a ski lift.
One of the things we noticed on the new site this is that tentative opening dates have been set for both Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley.
It’s no different than any other year since KSL Capital purchased Alpine Meadows in 2011. Squaw Valley is set to open this season on November 26th, while Alpine Meadows is not set to open until December 12th. Yes, that is 16 days later than Squaw Valley. That is exactly what happens when you don’t have competition in the resort industry, or any industry for that matter. For some, even November 26th is a late start for the season. Northstar will likely beat Squaw Valley by a week, and Mammoth by two or three weeks. It’s well known that Boreal tries very hard to be open by Halloween and we have heard that Mount Rose hopes to do the same this year. Kudos to Boreal and Mount Rose for carrying that competitive torch.
Sure, the Squawpologists will remind us that we can ski the early season at Squaw Valley with our passes. But quite a few of us want nothing to do with Squaw Valley, in particular Red Dog during the WROD season. I would take short laps on Kangaroo over icy plates on Champs Elysees any day. There’s also the crowd that will say that they would trade the WROD early season for a later spring season. We’re in the crowd that wants both early and late seasons, as more skiing and riding is better than less skiing and riding.
Yes, the homogenization and gentrification of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows by SVSH and KSL Capital has resulted in far more consequences than a singular website. Let’s give you a few more reminders:
• Some long term managers and employees have been replaced by Squaw people. Although Alpine Meadows people may have been used to fill some of those positions, several have reported that management decisions came from someplace other than Alpine Meadows. [This section was edited to improve accuracy]
• More money holds and “wind holds”
• Fewer total chairs operating between Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley means longer lines for everyone
• Daily lift ticket prices have risen to the point where locals and daytrippers are priced out
• Kids lift tickets more than quadrupled in price
• Kids team prices roughly doubled in price
• Food and beverage options are substantially more expensive. Less variety is available as menus were reduced at the The Chalet and the Ice Bar. Fewer stations are available consistently in the Meadows Cafe, and The Last Chair food service schedule changes daily. Hey, did we tell you that you can ride the shuttle over to Squaw and pick up the GNAR burger?
• Fewer special events are held at Alpine Meadows during the season, and absolutely none are held during the off season. Those events are important in building a sense of community at Alpine Meadows. SVSH and KSL would prefer that events lead people to the Village at Squaw Valley, which erodes the community at Alpine Meadows.
We’re certain there are more things that readers will share. The newly formed community called “Friends of Alpine Meadows” on Facebook has already gained more than 500 fans in it’s first week. Squawpologists will point out that pales in comparison to the 109,000 people that have liked the Squaw Valley Facebook page. it’s taken Squaw Valley years to achieve that number. There’s been some fabulous comments posted at the FOAM page. Here’s a selection of our favorites:
James: Alpine shouldn’t be burdened with trying to share its soul with Squaw
Tara: We are two totally different mountains!
Tim: They are not connected in spirit or by boundary.
Toni: Alpine Meadows is not just terrain on the backside of Squaw.
Bruce: Could not be more different, in all aspects. ALL ASPECTS.
Jon: Virtually every other adjacent US ski area that I can think of right now (except WhistlerBlackcomb) keeps their logo & identity:. Vail/Beaver Creek, Alta/Snowbird, A-basin/Keystone/Breckinridge, Aspen/Highlands/Buttermilk/Snowmass.
Haley: Don’t bring squaws attitude to our alpine! True to the mountain since they have been allowing boarders!
Dan: The Squaw page is full of praise and compliments…as they NEED Alpine Meadows (since Squaw is so limited) yet Alpine skiers/riders are unanimously against this unification. Go figure.
Another Jon: Our children and grandchildren deserve to ski in the local mountain vibe we have all enjoyed throughout our lives.
Lauren: Clientele are very different. Each resort should maintain their own positive characteristic.
Jason: Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley should have separate logos and identities because as a business, KSL could make more money being able to offer 2 different products, thus broadening their customer base and not alienating thousands of loyal pass holders.
Bryce: That’s how mother nature designed it. Don’t F With That woman!
We love that the Alpine Meadows faithful are speaking up for their mountain. We’ve been trying to make a difference at Alpine Meadows since 2008. We’re happy that our efforts are worth something.
Don’t be a Squawpologist!