Intrawest announces cutbacks |

Intrawest announces cutbacks

Steamboat Ski Area layoffs part of company's reaction to economic downturn

Blythe Terrell

— Intrawest, the parent company of Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., announced layoffs and realignments in its multi-resort work force Wednesday, a day after those layoffs were felt at Steamboat Ski Area.

“Impacted employees have been offered access to outplacement services to help in their transition,” Intrawest’s news release stated. “Although these are difficult decisions for us, our vision remains consistent and we are committed to delivering exceptional experiences for our guests, homeowners and employees.”

Intrawest spokesman Ian Galbraith said the Vancouver, B.C.-based company wasn’t planning to reduce services.

“These are primarily non-guest-facing positions,” Galbraith said.

He would not say which Intrawest resorts were affected. The company runs 11 North American resorts, including Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia and Copper Mountain and Winter Park in Colorado.

Ski Corp. President Chris Diamond confirmed Wednesday that the Steamboat Ski Area has laid off employees.

Recommended Stories For You

“The current business climate is unlike anything we have experienced in recent years, and, as such, the resort is taking the necessary steps to preserve our ability to be competitive and ensure our future success,” Diamond wrote in an e-mail. “As part of this process, we have taken the difficult step of reducing and realigning our work force.”

The Steamboat Ski Area still is scheduled to open Wednesday for Scholarship Day, Ski Corp. spokeswoman Loryn Kasten said.

Copper has been open for a couple of weekends, and Winter Park opened Wednesday.

“We’re proceeding with business as usual at all our resorts and looking forward to the 2008-09 season,” Galbraith said.

Intrawest officials have not released information on bookings for the season. A Routt County finance official said Tuesday that Ski Corp. was looking at a 30 percent to 40 percent decrease in bookings, but Kasten said that figure was too large, and the picture was closer to that painted in October by Andy Wirth, Intrawest’s chief marketing officer.

Wirth’s October comments were a response to information from Vail Resorts. That company reported this fall that its hotel bookings were down nearly 18 percent for the season compared with those from last year.

That number “is indicative of what all of Colorado is seeing as far as booking trends,” Wirth said at the time.

Diamond expressed some optimism.

“I have tremendous confidence that together, the resort and entire Steamboat Springs community will rise to the challenges ahead,” he wrote.

Job-finding help

It’s unclear how many other companies have cut workers in the Steamboat community.

The Steamboat Pilot & Today has seen a dip in classified advertisements seeking workers. Since Sept. 1, those ads have decreased 44 percent compared with the same period in 2007. They have declined about 26 percent year-to-date compared with 2007.

The darkening job scene has kept officials at the local branch of the Colorado Workforce Center busy.

“There’s just a lot of folks coming in and inquiring about unemployment, looking for jobs,” employment specialist Jackie Mitchell said, adding that some of those people implied they had been laid off.

The statewide unemployment rate was 4.9 percent in September, she said. It is expected to be several tenths of a point higher for October, Mitchell said. As a result, she said, Gov. Bill Ritter asked state work force centers to organize a “Keep Colorado Working” day today.

That consists of an open house at which the center will provide tours, show off its free services for job seekers and offer refreshments, Mitchell said.

“We’re just kind of here to help people out, help them touch up their resume,” she said. “They have access to all the jobs. We have 100 jobs available here. And once they’re registered with us, they can look up those jobs.”