Copper’s Beeline program under question
COPPER MOUNTAIN – Copper Mountain’s Beeline Advantage program – which allows some guests to get first tracks in the morning and skip long lift lines all day – has an uncertain future.
The program, which was new last season, allowed guests to avoid lines at the main lifts, including American Eagle, American Flyer and Super Bee. Guests used a special access key to enter the separate Beeline lane, which took them to the front of lift lines.
It also allowed guests to ski 15 minutes before lifts opened to the public and a separate rental line at participating ski shops.
While Beeline guests said they loved the program, others feel stung.
Copper homeowners Jim and Betsy Horkovich are particularly unhappy about the program. The couple filed their first complaint with the U.S. Forest Service in January, Jim Horkovich said.
“We believe in equal rights across the board,” he said. “I think it’s a violation of equal access to benefit their lodging operations.”
The Beeline Advantage was not offered to all guests at Copper last season – only those who booked through Copper Reservations. Copper officials offered a Beeline upgrade to season-pass holders for $20 a day last season, said Copper communications coordinator Beth Jahnigen, but skiers and boarders interviewed by the Summit Daily News in February said they were not aware of the option to upgrade.
Now, Forest Service officials are questioning the program as a possible violation of Forest Service policy.
According to Martha Ketelle, supervisor of the White River National Forest, the program can be authorized by the Forest Service only if there is a demonstrated need for the activity, it is consistent with the way Forest Service lands are managed, it is an appropriate use of Forest Service land, and it is in the public interest.
The program must be available to all guests, said Forest Service spokesman Erik Martin.
This year, guests booking through any of the resort’s three reservation companies may opt for Beeline tickets, Jahnigen said, and day guests may purchase a Beeline ticket for $124 at the lift ticket window.
Resort officials are not offering a daily upgrade for season passholders this season, she said. Instead, they are offering a Beeline Advantage season pass for $999, which is available to anyone – guests, locals and homeowners.
But that hasn’t appeased Jim Horkovich.
“I think special privileges at any price are wrong,” he said, adding he is incensed Copper is not allowing equal access to public lands.
In an interview with a Front Range newspaper, Copper Mountain Chief Executive Officer David Barry compared Copper’s Beeline Advantage to Vail Resorts’ First Tracks program.
First Tracks, however, is more of a fund-raising program said Vail Resorts director of corporate communications Kelly Ladyga. It is available to groups of 20 or more, and allows them to ski a full hour before lifts open to the public. The group pays for the cost of opening early and the money benefits local charities such as the Vail Valley Foundation.
Ketelle and Barry said they are working toward a solution that works for both Copper Mountain and the Forest Service.
“We’re committed to resolving all of the issues we have in getting the program off the ground,” Barry said.
At this point, Ketelle said, she is not satisfied there is a demonstrated public need for the activity.
Both parties said they hope to come to an agreeable solution before the winter season begins Nov. 2. Ketelle will make the final decision whether Copper officials can continue or must end the program.
“It’s a balancing act for Copper and Intrawest, to do what’s best for their business and for their customers, and our interests are the entire American public,” said Forest Service spokesperson Vinnie Picard.
Lu Snyder can be reached at 970-668-3998 x203 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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