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Non Region Specific Where are your lifties and patrollers going to live this season?

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Anyone want to discuss the elephant in the room? You know, chronic understaffing at so many North American ski resorts. Rents are going up way faster than wages. Very few employee housing units are coming online, and more rooms are getting lost to second home owners and the short term rental market.
Has anyone considered what exactly happens in the long run when seasonal workers have to blow through their savings for the "privilege" of working in your ski town? I'm tipping this year will see a record number of employee "no-shows" at high profile ski resorts. There will probably be a lot of employees leaving mid-season as their money runs out. But hey, let's just pretend it isn't a problem.
 

Jwrags

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My son will be starting his third season as a ski instructor at JHMR after a season in Steamboat. Because of housing costs and low inventory plus no promise of a spot in employee housing he has opted to buy a Promaster van to live in. It was already insulated and sort of finished inside but he wanted to configure it for more full time living. I helped him install a heater as well as build some cabinets and bench seating/storage. He figures he needs to live in it two years to pay for itself. The big issue is where to park it.
 
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I'm seeing heaps of employees in short term rentals / sublets that end just before Christmas. They are scrambling for affordable longer term housing that just doesn't exist. Employers might get 3-4 weeks out of these people, and then they will be leaving town at peak tourism season.
 

JoeSchmoe

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When you look at the exponential rise in lift ticket prices, it's a shame the employers were too greedy to pass along a fair share of the profits to employees. Karma might end up biting hard here.

Unfortunately the collateral damage will be felt by the paying customers.
 

KingGrump

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Finding the solution to the titled question wasn't part of my job description.

That's why the ski resorts get paid the big bucks.
 

cantunamunch

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\, and more rooms are getting lost to second home owners and the short term rental market.

I think the thread might get more attention if you also say 'snow making crew'.

Other than voting to kill AirBnB, not much we can do :huh: Building employee housing during climate uncertainty...seems fraught.
 

Wade

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But hey, let's just pretend it isn't a problem.
Have you missed all of the conversations on this site about employee housing, short term rentals, the affordability of housing / rent etc. The same goes for other forums as well as the better ski media. I don't think people here are pretending it isn't a problem.
 

MissySki

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I think the thread might get more attention if you also say 'snow making crew'.

Other than voting to kill AirBnB, not much we can do :huh: Building employee housing during climate uncertainty...seems fraught.
Saddleback has been building employee housing in Maine.

What the overall answer is beyond that, I don’t know. And it may not be completely feasible in some areas with land constraints. I agree that the overall topic is not necessarily something the average skier can do much about.. Businesses are responsible for dealing with the fall out if they don’t have employees. It will affect their bottom line if they can’t function. Yes it trickles down to their customers, but from a business standpoint they have the most to lose and need the employees to keep things going.

I am curious though, what are the OP’s ideas for how to fix the problem? You brought up the issue, but yes we are all very aware of it of course in our own communities. This is far from just a ski town problem also..
 

Jwrags

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When you look at the exponential rise in lift ticket prices, it's a shame the employers were too greedy to pass along a fair share of the profits to employees. Karma might end up biting hard here.

Unfortunately the collateral damage will be felt by the paying customers.
I don’t think higher pay will solve the problem. At least in Jackson it is an inventory issue. Higher pay just means bidding up the price of rent on the limited housing. The resort is bringing more employee housing online this year but there was no guarantee he could get into it even as a returning third year employee(plus summers). They give higher priority to employees they have to have like lift mechanics.
 

JoeSchmoe

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I don’t think higher pay will solve the problem. At least in Jackson it is an inventory issue. Higher pay just means bidding up the price of rent on the limited housing. The resort is bringing more employee housing online this year but there was no guarantee he could get into it even as a returning third year employee(plus summers). They give higher priority to employees they have to have like lift mechanics.

Good point.

That said, if the employees got better pay, they could put a good chunk of it towards higher rent payments. With higher rents, some landlords would convert their short term rentals to long term... Especially ones that are looking for a more hands off investment.
 

Sibhusky

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They converted Hibernation House here to dorms for international workers back in 2021. I presume it still is. No info easily visible for locals. They probably take the attitude that if you're local you already have housing. Zero assistance for ski bums showing up without housing. They keep doing it, though.
 

Scruffy

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The overarching issue of gentrification and the lack of service sector housing in all resort (not just skiing ) type towns not withstanding, this little nut is really for the resorts to crack. Without employees the ski resorts do not function well or at all. Customers who pay dearly in time/money/energy to go to said resorts and ski will not return if they have a miserable experience due to lack of employees to run lifts, service food and beverage, etc... Some people might give up skiing altogether. The resorts spend a ton of money upgrading lifts, building new lodges, and in some cases adding new terrain; they can certainly solve their own problem buying or building housing for their own employees. That housing will be an asset to their portfolio, but can be operated at cost in order to provide affordable housing to their staff.
 

Jwrags

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The overarching issue of gentrification and the lack of service sector housing in all resort (not just skiing ) type towns not withstanding, this little nut is really for the resorts to crack. Without employees the ski resorts do not function well or at all. Customers who pay dearly in time/money/energy to go to said resorts and ski will not return if they have a miserable experience due to lack of employees to run lifts, service food and beverage, etc... Some people might give up skiing altogether. The resorts spend a ton of money upgrading lifts, building new lodges, and in some cases adding new terrain; they can certainly solve their own problem buying or building housing for their own employees. That housing will be an asset to their portfolio, but can be operated at cost in order to provide affordable housing to their staff.
Resort employee housing only solves the resort’s problem and not the community’s issue. It needs to be solved by the local community itself or it will not have any carpenters, electricians, plumbers, mechanics, etc.
 

dbostedo

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Resort employee housing only solves the resort’s problem and not the community’s issue. It needs to be solved by the local community itself or it will not have any carpenters, electricians, plumbers, mechanics, etc.
This thread has a bunch of discussion about that side of things, from a Breckenridge/Summit county point of view...


I got a little familiar with what's going on there when I bought a place in Keystone this past summer. Generally speaking, they are beginning to limit short-term rental licenses, and have been zoning more housing as deed-restricted (meaning you can only buy it if you work in the county). Both of these serve to reduce prices and/or limit purchasing by remote folks who aren't directly part of the community (like me).
 

Scruffy

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Resort employee housing only solves the resort’s problem and not the community’s issue. It needs to be solved by the local community itself or it will not have any carpenters, electricians, plumbers, mechanics, etc.
Yes 100%, I acknowledged that in my first sentence. However, that is a bigger problem to solve everywhere there is somewhere desirable to buy a home ( 2nd or otherwise ), not just ski resorts. But in the short term, if the ski resorts don't take their immediate problem by the horns and solve it, those horns will gore them.
 

ss20

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Things have calmed down a lot in SLC in the very short 2 years I've been here. When I got out here I got an apartment as temporary housing before a house. Rent has actually edged down this year on the average for the county and there's significantly more vacancies than fall 2021. "They" say it will continue for a couple more years as all the apartment complexes built with "free" money will continue to come on-line. There's something like 5,000 units already under construction and expected to be finished in the next year (don't quote me on that number).

I've actually delayed buying a house here and just upgraded to a nicer, closer apartment for less $$$. It's a double-edge sword. I certainly wasn't expecting to still be renting entering my 3rd season here but it makes financial sense for me to wait at the moment.

What I have noticed decreasing in number is the typical resort worker living accomodations. Per person rental of a house or multi-bedroom unit is still going up in price, hurting a lot of entry level employees. A lot of resort workers I know are paying $600-$800 a month to share a unit with 3 or 4 others. They can't make the relatively small jump to $1200 a month for their own starter apartment.
 

UGASkiDawg

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No one that I've seen is pretending it isn't a problem. The laws of supply and demand will not be repealed so it's not going away.
 
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As service standards inevitably decline in the high priced mega resorts, there's a massive opportunity for medium sized resorts to invest in their employees and take a big bite out of the "big boys". Skiers will eventually vote with their feet when they pay $300 to stand in long lines all day for lifts, buses, and in restaurants for poor food. If things are left to the market, there will be some painful corrections in resorts that haven't invested in staff housing.
If I was running a second tier 2500 acre resort in North America I'd be taking the "Small town feel - great snow - even better service" route.
Employees who have a bad experience tell their friends. IMHO, many resorts have built in 5 years of understaffing because they haven't invested in housing and have a poor reputation with young seasonal workers. These young people can work in other resorts in North America, in Japan and Europe, or spend the winter on Australian and SE Asian beaches.
 

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