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VAIL'S LESSON ON HOW TO MAKE A MOUNTAIN GROW

          Vail Resorts Chair Adam Aron "is fast turning [Vail]
     into a leisure-time conglomerate," according to Christopher
     Palmeri of FORBES.  Since skiing is "no longer a growth
     business," Aron's plan is to "extract extra bucks out of the
     existing lift-ticket buyers."  Skiers spent 54 million days
     on the slopes last year, which is unchanged from 10 years
     ago.  Vail, the country's most-attended resort, saw skier
     visits drop 5% this past year, blaming weak snowfall and
     increased competition.  Aron's aim is to "make the resorts
     more profitable by getting the skiers to leave more money
     behind" at Vail-owned hotels, condominiums, restaurants and
     retail stores.  Over the past two years, the number of
     restaurants owned by Vail has increased from 60 to 85,
     hotels from one to seven, and retail stores from 40 to 70. 
     Non-lift-ticket business now accounts for 58% of resort
     revenues, up from 49% two years ago.  Average revenue per
     skier, from sales of things other than lift tickets, has
     increased from $55 to $74 per visit (FORBES, 10/19 issue).  
          FEARFUL OF ADAM? Aron's strategy, however, "hasn't made
     him popular in Vail," where local businesses "are feeling
     the competition from Big Brother."  Vail Mayor Robert Ford:
     "There's a lot of muscle on the mountain.  People are
     nervous."  Aron has boosted his marketing budget 15% to $21M
     and has invested $500,000 in a Web site (FORBES, 10/19).
     
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