It's no secret that the ski resort industry as a whole has been in a race to the top. And by "race to the top," I mean a race to best accommodate visitors from the top income brackets. As wages and standards of living remain stagnant for the supposed favorite class of politics--the middle class--it is increasingly the wealthy, and increasingly the uber-wealthy, who are propping up the bottom lines of ski areas around the country. As lift tickets and real estate prices continue to rise, they seem to be the only ones who can afford the sport and its $14 cafeteria burgers or $30 day parking or $98 day lift tickets.
But in reality, the race to accommodate the super-duper-uber rich has only just begun.
Some future modifications that resorts will need to make can be easily anticipated--specifically:
• Gas fireplaces will be placed anywhere a discerning guest could potentially stop and be disturbed by the harsh reality of winter weather, including lift lines, parking spaces, trail markers, and anywhere with a decent view.
• Weather control technology will seed clouds so its snows only when guests are sleeping, and will ensure that it breaks for bluebird skies at exactly first chair.
• Giant magic carpets will be installed anywhere guests are currently burdened with poling across flat cat tracks, and will be staffed with clones of Victoria Silvstedt that will hand out gourmet cookies and foie gras.
• The luxury customer of the future will demand nothing less than being able to ski to the base, skip the line, and have a choice of individualized gondola experiences, from cigar room, wine cellar, Bloomberg-equipped stock watch cabin, golf simulator, or dinner with Warren Buffet.
• Future Yellowstone Club competitors will sell fully customizable runs to the highest bidder, allowing Russian oligarchs the chance to specify the number of trees, pillows, and cliffs along with the degree of slope, depth of snow, and number of NBA All-Stars they get to high-five on the way down.
• Hovercraft technology will be implemented with cat skiing since cat-ski ops have always been hindered by the fact that marketing claims of "virgin powder," yet they have to draw attention away from the snowcat leaving a giant scar across an untouched field of pow. Additionally, hovercrafts put, on average, one thirty-third the pressure of a human foot on the snowpack, meaning accessing avalanche-prone terrain that would otherwise slide with the weight of a normal machine has never been safer.
• And with climate change, entire developments could be moved up the hill with the rising snow level, ensuring slopeside real estate never loses its value!
As the above video shows, there are plenty of imagineers progressing the concept of what a luxury ski resort can be. But those who remain stuck in the 2013 concept of the luxury resort experience will be doing themselves, and the world's 100 wealthiest individuals, a disservice.