Brown Bags Not Welcome

The modern plight of skiing’s homemade lunch

No brown bags or homemade PB&Js allowed. PHOTO: Kade Krichko

No brown bags or homemade PB&Js allowed. PHOTO: Kade Krichko

Editor’s Note: This opinion piece has been updated to reflect the following correction: Crystal Mountain management clarified that they only enforce this policy restricting sack lunches to a specific area between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Management also clarified that homemade PB&Js can be enjoyed at one of the picnic tables outside on the deck.

In a world of $150 lift tickets and ski-up valet parking, I find temporary solace in my homemade PB&J—it’s simple, effective, and even tricks me into thinking I’m not spending my life savings on a day pass. So when an attendant at a resort’s mid-mountain lodge told me my lunchtime masterpiece wasn’t welcome on premises, I was a bit—how should I put this—pissed. The Lunch Enforcer at Crystal Mountain, Washington, continued tickling rage receptors by informing me that not only was my bagged lunch not welcome at the mid-mountain hut, but also not on the top two floors of the base lodge, at least from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., when lunch hours are enforced. Graciously, the mountain would, however, let me eat my meal in a basement locker room. A brown bagger for life, I had become a ski area outcast, my scarlet letter written in gooey raspberry jelly.

So, uh, what the eff guys? With more resorts jumping on the bandwagon, I have to wonder when packing a lunch turned into a badge of social inferiority.

The brown bag has been a part of mountain life since people started sliding downhill, and definitely before base lodge cafeterias and ski-up pho shacks. And banning sack lunches hurts a lot of folks besides the dirtbags like me. Let’s be honest—I will still whip up Saltine and ketchup sandwiches no matter how many lunch police you throw my way.

No, you’re cutting deeper than that. You’re cutting into the families that should be coming back week in and week out. After clawing boot and nail to get their two young ones up to the hill, renting gear from your demo shop, and spending a weeks’ salary on lift tickets, parents rely on some homemade soup and sandwiches to make the whole thing worth it. They don’t live in a world of brioche buns and imported clam chowder anymore, they just need a place to sit and eat Goldfish while Tommy Jr.’s mittens dry out. But after coughing up $20 for those same cheddar snacks and a red Gatorade just to use the lodge stools, suddenly skiing doesn’t seem as fun. Suddenly that family stops coming back.

Lodges have long fostered a sense of community, a spot where skiers reconvene after a morning of chasing pow or just chasing each other. Moms saving seats while reading supermarket novellas, bags hanging from wooden pegs, snowy kids barreling in for a thermos sip and chocolate chip cookie—sure it was chaotic, but it was part of the ski experience, wasn’t it? Now buildings seem impossibly sterile, lifeless.

That’s because the moms are barricaded downstairs, as are the young families, the ski bums, the O.G.’s, and the rest of the people that make a mountain tick. Sure there are still plenty of redeeming characters buying organic pizzas upstairs, but skiing’s glue sits at picnic tables in a tungsten-lit basement. That’s where you’ll hear about the best runs of the day, laugh at a stupid joke, and maybe trade your apple for half a turkey sandwich.

Brown baggers are a resilient bunch, but frankly we’re running out of real estate. Rumor has it that next year we’ll be relegated to a janitor’s closet, renting it out in ten-minute increments and passing it off to the next in line. It’s unclear where the phase-out is coming from, but my guess is some guy or gal that never enjoyed the mushy satisfaction of a mountain PB&J. To that special someone: Sack up and give it a go—if you need any tips, you can find me in the basement.

Add a comment

  • Skyfrme

    Well said! I have not skied Crystal Mountain but will make sure I never do if it is run by people who insist upon those types of mean spirited policies. They should be ashamed of themselves.

  • AK

    Many ski areas are victims of their own success. As they squeeze more people into cramped lodges they run out of seats in which to seat people with a tray full of paid food. They also toss the quick “brown bagger” into the same camp as the “claim a table for the day” lodge mom, which they also need to relegate.

    The situation sucks for those who tote their grub, but it’s capitalism at work in a way that hits home. Any solution in favor of brown baggers would reduce prized seats for folks who just dropped $50.

    Thankfully this is a less of an issue at certain ski areas. Easy to know which.

    • Auntie_Social

      It’s not capitalism. It’s corporatism. Different by far.

    • philadendron

      Ahh, yes, the “claim a table for a day” person. Pretty infuriating when you come in from riding all morning, covered in snow, sweating and out of breath, and there are a bunch of tables taken with people in street clothes, reading on iPads or laptops.

      • Bilbo Brown Baggins

        Trade that fury for pity: you were out in the snow. They’ve somehow got to a point in life where they’re in a stank ski lodge staring at a screen.

    • Jonathan

      True, but ever notice that brown baggers make up well over 30-40 percent of the skiers at an area on any given day. Now lets say they walk away with their 100 dollar lift ticket, heh better sell lunches to the trees cause guess what you just lost your shirt.

      • Dave

        Yeah but they won’t. Walk away I mean.

  • Bran

    They just really want you to buy a 20 dollar burger, a 4 dollar soda with a 7.50 side of fries. That is why CB won best ski town because the base area restaurants are reasonably priced, the bakery has dollar pizza after 3 and its Really good. The pizza at say copper is about 7 a slice and sucks.

    • Jbrown

      haha coppers prices are tame compared to Vail resorts. A slice of crappy pizza is $11 at the base of peak 8 at Breckenridge

      • RoughToughCreamPuffs

        Vail itself has some awesome food on the mountain. Competes nicely with the restaurants in the village. Overpriced yes, but the quality is absolutely not the question.

    • LobRobster

      Lol, I used to make those crappy pizzas at Copper, when I was fresh out of high school. The dough came frozen, and everyone over the age of 10 who bought a slice looked kinda sad and spiritually broken when I looked them in the eyes. I never enjoyed working at ski resorts, so I don’t feel very comfortable supporting them either. Besides, the pow is always better in the backcountry and bag lunches are the only kind of lunches you’ll have out there.

  • flatNshallow

    Caberfae in northern lower Michigan has a brown bag area that is easily twice the size of the dining room with 60+ picnic tables and a 2 plug outlet between every one. Electric frying pans meant bacon and eggs pre ski and the crock pot meant a hearty, hot, and affordable lunch was waiting mid day. Burg reports are cannibalizing themselves and don’t seem to care.

    • RoughToughCreamPuffs

      mmmm…. bacon….

  • John Abraham

    Stick up for PBJ! Let’s hear it for resorts like Sunshine Village where we are still welcome!

    • skimom

      hmm ..staff at Sunshine told me and my little ones to get out of the seats we were in on a -30 day as we had been there long enough.We had bought hot chocolate etc but we were actually told that we hadn’t spent enough!

      • Jesus

        That’s the kind of hospitality that really makes you want to go back right?

      • John Abraham

        Sorry to hear that. It’s never happened to me, but at the full service restaurants I only stay long enough to eat my purchased food. My bag lunches are always eaten in the area where the microwaves and hot water are.

    • Matt

      I’ve yet to have anything but disdain for SSV. As much as I enjoy spending money at a hill that forces me to park in slide paths and fires core patrollers at random. Although if I do find myself there, there’s nowhere else that I’m less likely to buy cafeteria food. I don’t even want to drop a nickel in the daylodge, lest a Scurfield walk by and pick it up.

  • Ben Kaufman

    Thank you for writing this story… Guess I am not ‘elite’ enough to be in the upper with my crust….

  • boynesuckadick

    boyne is a terrible company with horrible alienating policies. crystal mountain is full of elite yuppies anyway. go to stevens, they know how to treat people

    • Corey Smaller

      Except Brighton.

  • Jonathan

    Dear Powder,
    I have been skiing since I was two years old. I am passionate about not only the sport but the promotion and survival of it. Four years ago I became a patroller on the east coast about 4 hours north of where I live for mountain terrain and snow coverage. This past year I made senior patroller. I enjoy helping people however the perks were nice enough too. I was lucky to find a gem of a mountain that now is a second family to me. The owners dog stalks me and probably has nicknamed me milk bone by now. I had long accepted that lift ticket costs are that of a broad way play and as it may be an ok treat I knew two things. I was not going skiing to go from an every weekend escape from work and the concrete jungle to a once a month getaway and I was sure as hell not going to pay for highway robbery. This lunch nazi persona is completely bogus on many levels but the main one that concerns me is combined with high lift ticket prices and relative low ticket sales numbers compared to ten years ago. This being when lift tickets were roughly 40 percent of what they are now in my region. Can ski areas be blamed for their own demise, what if going back to 40 dollar day passes would assure families of 4 who ski three times a season would go seven or eight? Add to that cheaper and more affordable food and healthier choices, sure the short term profit is lower but in the end of the season your ahead. Perhaps instead of renovating multi-million dollar lodges every few years let it go 20 years, ditch the stupid ski valet and let them come early to get good parking. One thing is damn sure I will never pay $150 for a lift ticket, if i have to fork up 100 bucks to go with friends somewhere and i have to wait in more then a ten minute lift line i’m pissed and ready to bowl over some punk kids who try to cut me in line. I’m all for making money but I think this is a point where its just too much. I hope Burton puts together a poach the lunchroom stunt. If they want people to eat their food offer a five dollar lunch special even if its a PBJ a bag of chips and a bottle of water and not many people would bother to pack lunch! I do not want most of the ski industry turning into a freaking walmart sized abortion.

    • Peter

      How do you know if a patroller is in the room? He’s already told you.

      • Bilbo Brown Baggins

        You are my hero.

      • RoughToughCreamPuffs


    • Jesus

      I agree. Also when the food is reasonably priced I buy a lot. At the few mountains with seemingly cheap food compared to others, I’ll buy $5+ worth a day. At the mountains with overpriced food I spend $0 on food.

      • Jonathan

        There is a small hill in the daks in upstate NY called hickory, very old-school with a lodge from the 50′s and picnic benches probably just as old. The best part, walking in at lunchtime and the chef turning to you and asking you how you want your burger done, ok he replies come back in ten minutes. I come back and run up my snapple and my bacon mushroom burger with homemade fries all for under 7 bucks!!! I never pack lunch when i visit that hill.

  • Jonesy

    I totally sympathize with this viewpoint, coming from a family of lifelong and proud brown baggers. We used to sneak lunches into Disneyland 35 years ago when it was just as verboten as it is today. I am hoping that Taos Ski Valley, under new ownership and management, will not go this way. The PBJ is a glorious go to sandwich whether you’re traveling by land, sea or air and should be welcome, along with brown bagging families, in ski lodges and cafeterias everywhere..

    • Bilbo Brown Baggins

      Look for a $14 PBJ offered on the menu next year, maybe?

    • John King

      TSV I hope will NEVER go that way!

  • Jonathan

    please make a list of brown baggers not welcome!
    I will avidly boycott these areas!!!

    • B.S.

      Squaw Valley & Alpine Meadows ski resort. Owned by KSL.

  • B.S.

    A Director sitting behind a spreadsheet came up with the idea… alienating the people who help support a sport that’s seen a decline in attendance. That Director needs to think of ways to bring back families; kids are your future snow sport enthusiast who will spend money. Think about the big picture and not the investors bottom line… sustain the sport for all, not just the 1%.

    • Dave

      Whaaa?? Decline in attendance?? Which mountains are *you* skiing at?? The ones around me (including Crystal) just get busier and busier every year.

    • dmo

      Bring back families? Crystal Mountain just announced a 1000% increase in season pass and day ticket rates for 7-10 year old kids. Crystal clearly would rather see yuppies and retired orthodontists on their slopes than a bunch of grubby-faced griswolds.

  • philadendron

    I get what you’re saying and it’s a shame they relegate brown baggers to a crappy, inconvenient area. But there are plenty of people that could be described as the “glue” of skiing who regularly eat and enjoy lodge lunches. Riding comes first, but my reward for riding hard all morning is sampling the lodge’s fare. It’s fun to scan the menu, pick something, watch it be prepared in front of you, and then dig in.

    Also, these days, many places offer free water, so you can buy your food and get unlimited free water, which helps keeps things reasonable.

    • Jonathan

      I hear you phil, however when that meal costs 20 bucks for something you could get at a local restaurant for 12 bucks it does make you think. Should I eat lunch or hit a nice place afterwards on the way home or in town with friends after I leave here.

    • cjl

      Free water? Really? Well, that makes up for everything…

      • philadendron

        No, it doesn’t make up for “everything”. People are mentioning expensive drinks, and I was just pointing out that if you are thirsty and don’t want to buy expensive drinks at the resort, many resorts offer free water. That’s all.

    • Steingrandt

      You seem to be presenting a false dichotomy. Just because you choose to reward yourself with a lodge lunch, doesn’t preclude another paying customer from having a sack lunch, and vice versa. The ski “community” is made up of individuals of all tastes and income levels. Sadly, though, it’s becoming a pasttime for the rich and famous with policies like this.

      • philadendron

        I wasn’t commenting so much on whether it’s right or wrong how the resorts are treating brown baggers. I was more commenting on the author’s assertion that the “glue” of skiing are people who brown bag. I was making the point that I would consider myself an avid, frequent snowboarder, and therefore a member of the “glue” of the snowsport community, and I eat at the resort.

        Just a small point I wanted to bring up.

    • Bilbo Brown Baggins

      “…many places offer free water?” Are there any that don’t? That would be incredible.

      • Don Tiurp

        Ski Europe, pay for water.

      • philadendron

        Well of course water fountains are free, but not all places go out of their way to put lots of water coolers with ice

  • Crystal Mountain Staff

    This is taken out of context. We just want to make sure that people who do buy food have a place to sit. It’s not like we have empty seats everywhere and a butler who wipes up for your sloppy self. – Crystal Mountain Staff

    • Julian

      Yeah, lift tickets are for lift use only!

      $75 for a lift ticket should include the cost of a stool to sit and eat lunch, including that expensive minimum wage worker who has to wipe tables every now and then.

    • Steingrandt

      He already bought a super-expensive lift ticket, for crying out out. And an insult, implying he’s a slob, on top of that! Nice. Crossing you off my list.

    • Jonesy

      If this comment is really from Crystal Mountain Staff, and I am wondering if it is, you really need to enroll yourself in Hospitality 101 and a business writing class so that you will know how to appropriately respond to customer complaints,

    • Phil “Z”

      That’s no the way to get people to feel like they are welcome! calling all of us sloppy is just a kick in the face. I love crystal mountain! The people who do pack a lunch maybe want to spend that $8 on or toward another lift ticket. I know for a fact that the people down in the dungeon of a basement (brown-bag) are the back bone of the Mt!
      Not good to alienate the bread and butter who feed and fuel the Mt.

    • Slamwich

      Woah. That got ugly. Definitely never going to Crystal Mountain ever again. If you’re forcing people to eat in the locker room, this was completely not out of context. I have trouble believing you are a staff member at CM, I worked for resorts for a while and no one would be dumb enough to respond as rudely or directly. Your yuppy mountain can keep it’s $29 lunch, squished pocket sandwiches for ever!

      • dmo

        The problem with the locker / brown bag room at Crystal is that it is full of snooty “founders”, who feel they own the place because they pay $1000/year to keep their ancient carvers in a low-numbered locker.

    • Crystal Mountain

      The person who is claiming to be “Crystal Mountain Staff” is not a member of the Crystal Mountain management team. We do not know who posted that, but we do not support the comments made and would never respond in such an unprofessional manner. What the article failed to point out is that the brown bagging policy is only in effect in designated areas of our day lodge and restaurants during peak lunch hours. We have an entire level of our day lodge called the “brown bag room” which people can sit and eat their lunch from home at anytime. No questions asked. We do have an issue with people bringing up their rice cookers, crock pots, George Forman grills etc. camping out at a table in an area where we sell food, leaving no room for people who bought food to sit and enjoy their meal. We are not the only mountain with a policy like this, in fact many ski areas have designated brown bag areas and do not allow people to bring their own food into a restaurant or area where food is being sold and served by the resort. We are doing our best to accommodate everyone with limited space. It should also be noted that we dropped the price on hamburgers from the cafeteria by $3 this winter, and made other price reductions on food to help make eating at the mountain more affordable. We realize there are some people that will always bring their own lunch, and that is fine with us as long as they are doing so in the designates areas or during non-restricted times. – Crystal Mountain Marketing Director, Tiana Enger

      • Neff Shient

        Tiana is right. And she cares about you. Marketing is all about the customer, not making money. Jeez, guys! A three dollar drop in the price of a burger–you think they did that to make more money? Not a chance. They care about our wallets, not theirs.

        I also applaud and back the plan to bar people from taking outside-sourced poops next year (at least during the hours of noon to three–let that purchased food digest). Definitely consistent with the brown bag policy, which doesn’t go far enough to discourage you free riding freeriders.

        Support the mountain that supports you! The fact that they dropped the price of their lift tickets after taking out that chairlift shows they’re cool. Always has been a great place.

        Fight the good fight!

      • Bilbo Brown Baggins

        “…rice cookers, crock pots, George Forman grills etc.”???

        Plural? Are you kidding me? You’ve seen more than one of any of those?

        No you have not.

        (Marketing note: Crock-Pot is the brand name. And it’s George Foreman. Don’t anger the money, spell it right. Corporations are people, too, ya know!)

        • Truth

          Way to split hairs……

          And yeah I have seen multiple Crock-Pots before.

          • Nancy

            Rice cookers, slow cookers, camping stoves. Kettles and entire Costco sized cases of noodle soup. Absolutely happens all the time at our home mountain. One family last week brought a restaurant sized coffee perk and set it up on the floor next to an electrical outlet. Then the family used cups & creamers from the restaurant free of charge. Arg.

      • lizdennis84

        I knew this article had failed to mention key facts. I had a feeling that CM probably did have a brown bag area. Thanks for writing. You sure cleared some questions that I had. Great management.

      • skyfrme

        Face it, it is a crummy, nasty, policy that should be dropped. Certainly, grilling in doors is ridiculous, but what in the world is wrong with a crock pot, assuming someone is not blowing your power out? You sound like a bunch of elitist jerks.

    • TJ Miller

      Thanks for calling us skiers/boarders sloppy, Crystal Mtn Staff. I know exactly where I will NEVER ski again. Stevens Pass & Whistler Blackcomb are going to love the transferring clientele from your idiotic, alienating post. I hope the person who typed that response is fired. I’d fire you in a heartbeat, if you represented my company in that fashion.

  • Silverton Mountain

    What about the people with food allergies? I have been amazed how many resorts and ski schools to not accommodate these kids. BROWN BAGS WELCOME at Silverton Mountain.

    • Silverton Mountain

      Ps I think crystal is a killer mountain. I have seen the no brown bag at many resorts so I think crystal is unfairly being singled out.

  • Jonathan

    Now just because we don’t pay 20 bucks in lunch plus a 100 plus dollars to ski we are called sloppy? heh taken out of context no you just verified we are correct in our assumptions buddy!

  • Try putting it in perspective

    Brown bagging is not allowed on the main levels of the day lodge between 11am-1pm so that people who do purchase food have a place to sit and eat it. It’s a space issue, what the mountain really needs is a bigger day lodge!

    • Dave

      What?? What’s this?? Somebody being *rational* in the comments? There’s no place for being sensible here, we only have room for outraged hyperbole!

  • Am I a jerk?

    If I am paying $25 for lunch, I should have a place to sit and not fight for it. That’s the real problem, the people that come with 80 kids in tow and sit around all day hogging 3 tables each. You can still eat your lunch, just not in the area for people who just paid for it.

    • philadendron

      Ever tried to find a seat when dozens of entire tables are “RESERVED” for ski school kids? Super awesome time, and makes me incredibly glad I paid for my lunch, only to walk around while it gets cold trying to find a seat.

      Frequent issue on the weekends at Brighton, and now that I know, I take an earlier or later lunch.

      • boarder

        Ah yes, so everyone should care more about your being able to eat a hot meal than the happiness of families, kids, and anyone else who save their pennies to come to the resort for the love of snowboarding/skiing, NOT jacked up food prices. Very logical and not selfish at all, congrats!

        • philadendron

          Sorry, if I pay $25 for a meal, at least let me find a seat to eat before it gets cold. Or if the place is too busy, fine I guess, but entire tables reserved? Sorry, puts a bad taste in my mouth.

        • philadendron

          Not to mention, I’m there for the love of snowboarding, also. Why else would I be there?

  • ColdHardReality

    I realize that I am grabbing the dirtbag bull by the horns…but here we go. I grew up in a ski town, I am a life long ski bum who has based my life decisions around the proximity to skiing. I don’t pay full retail for ski gear, and I buy season passes (that I more than break even on every season). I could easily jump on the PBJ bandwagon, but my very basic grasp on economics prevents me from doing so. As skiers, you all have to come to grips here with the reality of our industry- NOBODY WHO OWNS A SKI RESORT ACTUALLY MAKES MONEY OFF OF THE SKI PASSES! They make money off of amenities, like food.

    The ski industry deviated from a family-friendly, inexpensive sport LONG AGO. The ski industry isn’t any different from other industries who are subject to inflation. What makes it different are all of the economic factors that play into it- the cost of Forest Service leases, employment costs, litigation costs and the trickle down effect of higher liability insurance, oh…and the cost of oil, to name just a few of the operating costs. It’s unreasonable to think that the ski industry could go back to operating at 1982 prices when nobody else in the open market is being required to do so.

    Brown baggers, as nostalgic as that notion may be for most of us who grew up back when inflation hadn’t kicked the ski industry in the nuts, cost the ski area. If everyone were allowed to sit with their homemade lunches next to the touron who has just shelled out $15 for a bowl of chili, guess what message that sends- “you don’t have to spend money on resort food, just bring your own like everyone else!” And it’s the mountain who loses out in the long run.

    There are quite a few large ski areas that have nice and friendly brown bag areas. My home mountains of Squaw and Alpine have really comfortable, family friendly brown bag areas that have better seating and are closer to the bathrooms. Squaw’s has big overstuffed chairs, fireplaces, and is spitting distance from Wildflour bakery where the aroma of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies wafts through the air. Northstar has a family seating area, and if they don’t exemplify corporate ski ogre, I don’t know who does. But they have stuck to their family roots…it’s just not on the main floor of the base lodge next to the cafeteria.

    I’m not justifying the cost of skiing, because frankly I don’t know the exact numbers to make that kind of an educated argument. But I do see why the ski resort doesn’t want to extend an open invite to lose money. If they don’t make money, they can’t operate and we can’t ski…which sucks for everyone, dirtbag or not.

    • woofa

      Nobody makes money off the day passes… LOL.

      BTW Mr. Economics, fewer skiers because of resorts being less accommodating means LESS MONEY. It’s one of the very reasons people do not go to the theater like they did. Everyone wants to rape you for everything. BTW #2, in ALL THIS TIME that people have been brown bagging it everyone hasn’t decided to brown bag it, not even close.

    • Alvin

      “No body who owns a ski reality makes money off the ski passes” “I don’t know the exact numbers to make that kind of educated argument”

      Which is it, you don’t know what your talking about or you somehow know a specific lodges annual fiscal report?

    • Robert Alderman

      I always thought the typical ski area profit model was to cover the overhead with season passes, and then sales on top of that went towards profit. Your mountain must not be doing very well if they don’t make anything from their prime commodity.

      I can see the resorts having a point if the lodge is always crammed with people not spending money. But if that is not the case what’s the diff between letting people who need to save a buck in order to purchase a $100 day pass eat their home brought lunch and booting them out? The difference is annoyed clientele.

      • Truth

        Season passes aren’t the big money makers. Think about your overhead…

        - Employees on day wages + management
        - Power to run lifts/heat/lights
        - Equipment (trucks, snowcats (not cheap in the 100ks), snow-mobiles, lift parts, new lifts,
        - Snow making pipes, compressors, and the big one is fuel for the compressors to make snow
        - Cost to whoever they are leasing the land, or the mortgage if they own the land
        - Many more things….

        Most ski resorts are only seeing large volumes on weekends and holidays, and they are running 1/3 – 1/2 of the year.

        For a resort to cover all those cost in season passes they need to sell 10,000s of them each year That is for a mid size resort think about how much a place like Aspen, Vail, or PC would need to charge for a season pass? Season passes work because people who get those passes see it as a “value” (some times it is depending on who you are) and then spend money in the base lodge on food.

        Think about the cost of french frys and hamburger that they charge $12. Its maybe $2? Maybe less? Maybe $4 depending on volume, cost of equipment, ect…. Point is its a good profit margin

        Now think about how much it costs put a person on the snow? Snow making, electricity, fuel, well all the shit a mentioned before.

        It take significantly more capital to put someone on the snow then it costs to make a hamburger, and thats why the F&B is the backbone of the resort.

        All this being said fuck paying $12 for a shity ass lunch bring those instant noddles, and brown bag. And fuck the police!

    • Truth

      No he is kinda right. Passes/tickets dont really make the resort money but cover cost of operations.

      I cant say this is true for every resort but this is mainly true of most places. That $15 burger is going to go into making a new lodge, or pay for new trails to be cut, or shit keep the place in operation after a bad weather year.

      So Alvin, and Woofa chill and think before you get all hyped up about something you dont know. Next time you bitch about a $7 cup of Chili remember that cost isn’t just made up to make the owners millions but carefully calculated to unsure the resort can expand/dont go out of business.

  • h2ogirl

    Whitefish in MT has one of the most welcoming and comfortable day lodges!

    • Charles

      Whitefish is a great resort. The food there is affordable and you can also brown bag it.

  • EastCoastMom

    I get that if you buy lunch you should be able to have a seat, no arguing there. But taking my family skiing is becoming very cost prohibitive. We do it as economically as we can but with flights, lodging, tickets – the cost adds up quickly! Why is it too much to ask to have a seat so you can eat lunch and not feel like a leper? Lunch for a family of 4 can run up to 60-100 dollars depending on where you go. I see both sides of this argument, but make a reasonable space for people who are trying to keep their family engaged – without going broke!

    • skyfrme

      good for you … I totally agree

  • Tom Vogt

    Come out and ski with us in Canada’s west, I’ve never seen a brown bag ban we have rooms with hot water, sinks and microwaves just for family’s brown bagging it.

    • Leigh

      Cypress Mountain near Vancouver doesn’t allow brown bags in the lodge. There is a separate room in an older building with a view of the parking lot for all the brown bagging riff raff.

    • kbam

      Silverstar (Vernon BC) also has a ban on brown bags. It’s terrible. They make you sit in this freezing cold, damp room downstairs. I have to sit with my jacket on to keep from getting frostbite. Also, the microwaves barely work. Big White (Kelowna BC) on the other hand has the nicest brown bag room with microwaves and hot water taps. Another reason to go to Big White over Silverstar.

  • SkiGuru303

    This is unexceptionable! What they are doing is against the spirit of skiing.

  • Boardrigger

    I say single them ALL out! Let’s call out those resorts that don’t allow brown bag & praise those that do. Resorts with killer terrain aren’t excused for having nowhere to eat healthy, homemade food.

  • BigSkyShred

    Thanks Boyne Resorts! Assholes.

    • Bilbo Brown Baggins

      Crystal Mountain have been assholes for a long time. Boyne Resorts are lame, and to blame for a lot of shit, but it’s probably unnecessary to play that card in this hand.

  • Chris Dahlgren

    My husband and I used to do a barebones run to Jackson Hole every winter. We couldn’t afford it but we loved it so much we made sacrifices so we could go. There was no way we could afford to eat in the chalets so we always packed a lunch in our pockets. We carried trail mix in ziplocks, beef jerky and juice boxes. The juice boxes were great because even if you fell on one it neither hurt nor split. We would snack a bit on the lift on the way up and that actually seemed to work well for constant energy replacement. We also had a few favorite spots where we would ski a bit off the trail and sit and have our lunch looking out over the valley. We are a lot older now and in need of those rest periods and lunch inside the chalet, but our best and greatest ski memories are of peanut M&Ms and jerky, ok and maybe some wine from the skin ;-) sitting in the trees on the far side of Apre Vous.

  • Sandy Maynard

    whhhhaaaa! You all sound like a bunch of bitter old farts. Ski areas are a BUSINESS. They have to make MONEY. It’s interesting to read the hypocrisy on this board and in these posts. When it comes to topics where you want change, you’re all for it. Snowbarders at alta, yes! Change is good! When it comes to topics that chafe you, it’s all no no no. Base lodges are restaurants, and they are part of the business model that keeps the lifts turning at your favorite mountains. You don’t bring your own food to a burger king or on a cruise. Food is part of the package. It’s how they make money. Anyone with a job or a career out there should understand this. It’s basic.

    • Jesus

      You’re insane. A base lodge is not a restaurant. Base lodges sell food and many places have an additional restaurant(which I fully support leaving seats for patrons of the bar/restaurant) A base lodge is a place to get your stuff on in the morning, take it off at the end of the day, come in to take a break and warm up, hit the bathrooms, eat some food. Comparing bringing food into a lodge to doing it at a burger king is just shows how out of touch with reality you are.

    • Bilbo Brown Baggins

      Burger King and cruises? Sandy, you obviously know your stuff. We got a foodie over here!

      “Base lodges are restaurants”? You can’t be for real.

      Burger King and cruises: both in the top five places to get norovirus. Please stop.

    • dmo

      Pretty typical boomer/tea-bagger response – don’t criticize corporations because they can do no wrong. I bet you’d lay on the floor kicking and screaming if anyone tried to get rid of your “senior discount”.

  • Jesus

    Well written. I understand mountains trying to make more money but if somebody is buying that lift ticket, maybe even paying for rentals, it seems pretty heartless to not allow them to eat their own food in the lodge.

  • wayne

    If I had not brown bagged it as a younger family man there would be 4 less avid skiers in the world now. I could barely afford the tickets and bare assed lodging when we were a young family of 4. Having to buy 4 lunches for 6 days would have stopped us from skiing. If skiing wants to turn into a rich mans activity, all can say is good luck with that.

    • Bilbo Brown Baggins


  • Jamie Elenbaas

    I brown bag at Crystal all the time. I don’t blame them for being pissy if I’m eating my own lunch in the Campbell lodge at the peak of lunch hour on a Saturday when they’re packed with paying customers. They don’t seem to mind if I’m in there before or after peak. Better still, unless the weather is awful, why would you eat inside with Campbell Basin and (what’s left of) chair 6 to enjoy from the outside picnic tables?

    • Bilbo Brown Baggins

      Oh how obedient you are. Good job!

      • Jamie Elenbaas

        More inclined to say considerate of people trying to run a business. Do you walk into any other restaurant and expect them to be pleased that you brought your own lunch? There are plenty of places to brown bag at most mountains that are not the dining room of a restaurant

        • Bilbo Brown Baggins

          I guess we’ll have to hash out a definition of “restaurant” we can agree upon. The most monkeywrench among us wouldn’t walk past a maitre’d and plop down at a table with a squashed PBJ in a ziploc. Nobody’s claiming that. Equating a ski lodge with a restaurant is silly.

          A separate, self-contained restaurant within a giant lodge, ala Vail or Whistler?–nobody’s brown-bagging in there. Gimme a break. This is about Crystal Mountain nickel’n’dime-ing everyone for their history.

          Their reputation is deserved.

          • Jamie Elenbaas

            I could see your point at the base lodge, which does have a terribly bad brown bag facility, but the photo and comments were about Campbell Basin Lodge, and come on, what is that but a restaurant?

            Anyhow, anyone who thinks that Boyne is a bad owner doesn’t have a very good memory of the “good old days” at Crystal when employee moral sucked and everything on that mountain was falling apart with no hope of improvement or expansion.

      • WisSkier

        If you walk into a bar and buy a beer, but can’t sit down because the seats are taken up by those playing candy crush or drinking a coke (which I expect they can carry out of the bar) are you okay with that? The resorts I frequent have no problem with me sitting down in the lodge with my brown bag, but I’m much happier out in the truck where I can listen to what I want to listen to instead of the same old 80s and 90s pop-music.

  • CN

    I agree wholeheartedly with everything in this article, except this bit: “Moms saving seats while reading supermarket novellas…” Really? Dude, many of us moms are out on the slopes with the kids, too. Half the time, my husband is holding a spot. What a dumb stereotype to perpetuate in an otherwise great article.

    • Just a skier

      Agree that the stereotype is was dumb And I can commiserate with the cost of feeding a family. However, how is issue, i.e. lack of eating space for those who pack a sack, improved by occupying a table for the duration of the morning to mid-afternoon? Do you or your husband allow others to use “your” table when the other is out skiing with the kids?

      • CN

        Well at Baker it’s a different story, thankfully. There’s a whole lodge that pretty much fills up with families, all hanging out, bringing in their own food, etc. We share space, trade off, and so on. If other resorts really want to encourage more families (which is a huge source of ticket sales/season pass holders) vs. turn people off, they should take a hard look at this.

        • Justaskier

          That’s awesome Baker possess a communal atmosphere. However that doesn’t address the issue of “table campers”. How should limited brown bag space be utilized when families occupy a table in perpetuity?

      • KevinJ

        Allow? Screw that. I am sitting down whether they like it or not. I will be gone in 20 min. If the chronic seat saver doesnt like it they can suck it.

  • Chuck Allison

    This is one of the reasons I really love those days I get to go cross country skiing, Those folks bring brown bagging to fantastic levels ,, and, they are super friendly! Downhill? Sometimes not so friendly…..the yuppie factor sometimes gets out of hand……then you meet those folks who can make a whole season worth while…..

  • Icehawk

    On the other side of the coin, I’m not a fan of the folks who drop their kids off to ski for the day and then hog a table all day so there is nowhere to sit during lunch.

  • liz

    I work at a ski hill and I run one of the cafes. We also do not allow brown bag lunches in the cafe because there are many designated areas in the main lodge to go and have your picnic. I have to admit to being annoyed and disgusted at times when people come in with their own food, expecting us to provide glasses of water because they are too cheap to even buy a coffee. Then they make NO effort to clean up after themselves. Their kids have poured sugar all over the table, there are goldfish crackers smooshed into the carpet, water and slop every where and im supposed to clean up after this crap! There are places to go and eat your home made lunches and they have been staffed accordingly to cope with the mass amount of mess that is left. I am sorry for the people who do clean up after themselves and who are respectful of the space but those people are too few and far between. Perhaps some people are ruining it for everyone else. At the end of the day, there are still many places to take your lunch. It’s not like people are being made to eat in the gutter.

    • Bilbo Brown Baggins

      So people that are regal enough to buy lunch at your fantastic cafe are never messy? Or you’ll allow them to be?

      Gimme a break.

    • dmo

      Quit your ski resort job and go to the city. People in the city never make messes.

  • Philip

    Soup in a brown bag???

  • Big Black

    Alot of children bitching about something thats not a big deal.

    “POWER MAKE A LIST OF RESORTS SO I CAN BOYCOTT THEM!”, “Ah shit never mind that is my “local resort” I’m still gonna go”


    “Well they do have sick terrain, or a sick vibe, or ect…. But FUCK them for saying to can’t take up space of paying guests to are adding to the success of an establishment in a industry that is hard to sustain.

    Sounds like a bunch of people that aren’t part of the money making demographic of ski resorts bitching. People who walk into a lodge on a busy weekend and rush to take a table away from a family that you see as, “gappers” and say something like, “I’m a local!”, or see themselves more privileged because your a better skier.

    Those people who aren’t bringing a bagged lunch, buying a day pass for a family 6 weekends a year, rent skis, boots, helmets, and pay for parking are making a season pass cheaper for you.

    Funny to think that people see this as over privileged (richer) people getting priority over others who just love to ride. When in reality looking at these comments its the opposite.

  • Sarah

    No establishment that is selling food anywhere is going to let you bring in your own food from home and take a table from paying customers during their peak hours of business. Sounds like they have designated plenty of other areas for you to eat and maybe you should take advantage of them not banning outside food and drinks entirely like many movie theaters and amusement parks do.

  • John King

    WOW, this certainly seems to have touched a skiing nerve! What an interesting discussion. I am sorry, but I grew up in the day when we were all in the same lodge, steaming away (in New England) together, no matter whether we brought our lunch or the money to buy it with. Anything, such as this policy, that drives a difference between the haves and have nots, is a BAD thing. There is too much of that going on in this country. I know people have to make a buck, but not at the expense of others…

  • AdditionalSkiFamilyDepression

    For next season Crystal Mountain has increased season passes for 7 to. 10 yr olds from $50 to $399. The ski family is an endangered group. Here is their P.R. Spin.

    From Crystal Mountain website :
    We’ve made some changes to how we breakdown ages. We did this to be more in alignment with the industry standard, and also ease the transition from child to youth without a big rate hike like before. We know it will take some time to adjust, so please review your options carefully.
    Ages: Adult 16-69, Youth 7-15, Senior 70+, Child 0-6 (Based on age as of November 1, 2014)

  • WisSkier

    Imagine after a hard day of riding the white fantastic you are ready for some apres-ski. You get out of your boots and gear and head to the barroom. You buy a beer and can not find a place to sit because the place is full of folks who are drinking hot chocolates and soda pop, or are simply reading or just playing their Candy Crush game. I expect resort and government policies state you can not take your beer outside of the barrom while those soda-poppers and candy crushers can take their action out of the barroom. I generally expect the bar manager to ask those folks to leave so people patronizing the facility can use it, no? Take your brown bag out to your truck or car, bonus–you have exclusive control over the audio programming!

    • John Abraham

      I don’t think the “barroom” is a good place for picnickers and loiterers. But there should be other spots inside a building to eat your lunch and warmup.

  • Emma Hunter

    This practice is increasing in the eastern U.S., too. In fairness, our small resorts struggle with warmer winters and bigger temperature swings eating away at snow-making budgets and shortening the ski season at my home resort in WV by 3-4 weeks in the past 6 years. I understand the pressure to squeeze every nickel, but kicking us out in the cold to eat lunch is a real kick in the pants. Season ticket prices didn’t go down when the ski season was cut by 3-4 weeks. As others mentioned, the food offerings do not meet many dietary needs and preferences. We now routinely eat on the (slow) lift, carrying energy bars, nuts, even PB crackers along with bottles of Gatorade in our backpacks. We used to supplement with the high priced cafeteria foods, but we were so offended by being kicked completely out of the building, that we went on strike. Many families and groups completely ignore the signs and basically dare the resort staff to challenge them. There is a breaking point on cost and many resorts are surpassing it. The good news in the short term at leat here in the east, the slopes are less crowded (except holidays which have gotten far worse). The bad news is more small resots are “circling the drain.”

  • The Fish

    I believe in the Brown Bag. I probably would not have learned to ski if not for the Brown Bag, my parents spent the money on rentals and tickets. Ski bums like myself have worked to help the resorts for little money, poverty with a view, I live the brown bag life. Kade if you are in Whitefish I have seen tables with Brown Bags and a view. I think you have to have at least two pieces of duct tape to sit.

  • Brian Gallagher

    just put it in a backpack, it is a lot more environmental. I have skied 70 days at winter park and when i do eat there, my lunch is the same thing every day, chili cheese fries, which are 6.75. The only place that is not available for bag lunch is sunpot. if you get a tray and a some plates it looks like you bought the shit there. Just think about it as a overprice chipotle burrito, the economy works the way it does because people are willing to pay the price.

  • Marie

    Crystal Mountain did the same thing with their adaptive ski program – shifted them from one room down into the basement and finally off the mountain completely. Doesn’t shock me they are doing the same w/ the brown bag crowd. yes it’s happening elsewhere but despite great skiing this place really needs to reality check their privilege.

  • Skeese’ n Crackers

    This is all so ridiculous! To all those swearing off Crystal thank you for leaving the mountain to those of us who are there to ski. We are not concerned with our lunchtime accommodations. I happily enjoy my brown bag on the lift as the skiing is too good to quit!

  • donny

    Here’s a rant:
    It’s such a heartwarming experience as an instructor to bring a class full of beginners into the packed cafeteria at the top of the mountain during spring break in March at 11:30 am in an attempt to beat the crowds, and then to ask some woman in street clothes reading a paperback (yes, I think that is a reasonable statement because I don’t see a lot of husbands doing this, no) next to the view windows or anywhere to share her table, only to be turned down, and then watch her family troop in maybe an hour later. Meanwhile, my students are eating standing up.
    That is uncalled for. As are the table campers who hang out for two and a half hours during prime time with their napping children, and then trade their table off to their relatives.
    What I notice is that some people like this, who tend to show up on weekends from the city, have the same sense of entitlement on the slopes. We call it Straightline Saturday, all winter long. Shitty skiers way in the backseat with flailing poles making Z-turns, hauling brown bag lunches and a sense of entitlement.
    Go away. That is all.

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