Ski resorts dig deep for revenue |

Ski resorts dig deep for revenue

Jason Blevins/The Denver Post

It wasn't just weak snow that pinched resort communities last winter. Rising fuel prices, airline woes and reticent vacationers forced resort towns like Steamboat, Telluride, Crested Butte and Vail to pay more to airlines for consistent flights into regional mountain airports.

This year, the guarantee payments remain steep, but a host of deals is fueling hopes that packed jets full of ski vacationers will fill resort coffers this winter. Some resort towns are working closely together to attract more airplane seats.

"We've been doing this for 25 years, and we understand there will be ebbs and flows. Last year was an ebb but we have confidence this year will be more successful," said Rob Perlman, the vice president of marketing at Steamboat Ski Area that last year at this time was celebrating the passage of a local sales and use tax to fund Steamboat's airline guarantee program.

Steamboat this week announced a slew of discounted flights from 28 cities, including the eight cities that offer non-stop flights into Yampa Valley Airport. This year the program has fewer seats than last season — at 111,850 for the season, it's one of the lower totals in the past decade — but the resort is marketing heavily in core markets like Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Houston to fill those direct flights.

Crested Butte and Telluride this season will share the cost of jet service into nearby Montrose Regional Airport, in a unique partnership. They extended their ties Monday, announcing a six-visit pass good for three days at each hill.

"Regionalization is coming," said Michael Marleton, chief of the Telluride Tourism Board, which joined Crested Butte Mountain Resort this fall on a $650,000 revenue-guarantee deal with Allegiant Air bringing twice-weekly flights from Oakland and Phoenix into Montrose all winter. "To the extent that we on this side of the divide can start to come together, we are going to be able to do some great things."

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