By Louise Hudson
With delivery dominating the food, restaurant, and retail industries at the moment, the time-saving trend is gradually infiltrating to ski areas. Pizza delivery has always proliferated, especially in resorts peppered with self-catering accommodation. But ski businesses are branching out to deliver more creative meals, groceries, wines, ski/ride rental equipment, and all the bulky things that are difficult for families to bring such as cribs, cots, strollers, highchairs, and toys.
“Never Stand in Line Again” was the mantra of Bryn Carey, who founded Ski Butlers in 2004 at Park City. Leaders in seamless service, Ski Butlers have spread the rental-to-room delivery trend across 47 ski resorts in the US, Canada and Europe. Delivering Rossignol skis, snowboards, boots, poles, helmets, goggles, clothing and accessories direct to customers’ accommodations makes for a cushy rental experience. And the support service enables swapping gear or even switching from skiing to snowboarding during the same trip. Riley Tippet is the owner of Ski Butlers Aspen, Telluride and Sun Valley. “The popularity of delivery has grown exponentially in the past decade,” says Tippet. “People have realized there is a better way to rent.”
Casual users, in particular beginners, are more likely to rent – so, too, ‘adventure grazers’ who are accumulating bucket-list experiences rather than lots of gear. And the rental market for more regular and experienced skiers is growing, too, as a result of spiralling costs of airline baggage and continual innovation in ski and board manufacturing. “If after traveling all day, getting checked in to your room, and settling in, I gave you an option to either put your stuff back on, go in to town, wait in line, carry your gear back to your room – or just sit back and relax because Ski Butlers will be showing up with everything to fit you – which would you choose?” asks Tippet. “We take the hassle out of ski rentals and put the vacation time back in the guests’ hands.” For those who can’t travel without their own treasured gear, there are companies like Ship Skis which transports skis, snowboards and luggage anywhere in the world.
Other rental delivery companies are springing up – there’s Black Tie Rentals, rentskis.com (BC, Colorado, California, Utah), and several sports shops are boarding the bandwagon – for example, Telluride Sports and Ultimate, Banff. Many resorts are providing in-house ski rentals, including Telluride’s Peaks Resort & Spa and Whistler’s Pan Pacific Mountainside, which houses The Salomon Store and two other ski shops. Hotels are increasingly adding ski valet stations, often right onto the snow, so that skiers and snowboarders can ski straight from breakfast and, later, back from piste to patio without feeling like a sherpa. A real luxury for families with younger kids and for exhausted skiers of any age.
In Colorado, Mountain Threads delivers ski and snowboard clothing ordered online for men, women and kids. Kit Lender and Slope Threads are similarly reducing packing problems by delivering full ski kits to US destinations with handy pre-addressed packaging to drop it all off at the front desk at the end of the stay. This facilitates travelling with just hand luggage, saving a lot of time and effort. Canada is lagging behind a bit in ski clothing delivery, but Whistler’s leading the way with