How ski resorts are responding to the affordable housing crisis and the labor shortage

Steamboat Ponds are the housing units for the employees of Steamboat Resort
John F. Russell / Steamboat Pilot and Today

As the entire country grapples with a shortage of workers and affordable housing, Colorado ski resorts, located in some of the state’s most expensive cities, are wondering what they can do. recruit and retain employees to staff their restaurants, chairlifts and retail businesses.

“This is something we are committed to for the future,” said Trish Sullivan, vice president of human resources and risk management for Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp.

As the 2021-22 season approaches, Steamboat Resort plans to integrate more employees into The Ponds at Steamboat, its employee housing complex that houses approximately 500 of the resort’s 2,000 employees.



Loryn Duke, director of communications for Ski Corp., said employees will be able to choose between five-person units, six-person units and a very limited number of standard four-person units. Couples will be able to stay in units of five people in one bedroom that can accommodate two people.

Employees of a one bedroom unit with two people will pay $ 725 per month per person, $ 475 per person for a standard unit with four people, $ 515 per person for a renovated unit with four people, $ 440 per person for a five-person unit with two-person bedrooms, $ 340 per person for a five-person unit with three-person bedrooms and $ 320 per person for a six-person unit.



Although Ski Corp. increased prices from $ 290 to $ 390 in 2019 and to $ 440 in 2021, Duke said the cost is still well below market value in Routt County, and the higher rent will allow the station to ” invest more in your home.

Ski Corp. also increased its entry-level pay from $ 12 to $ 15 an hour in July, the largest pay hike in the station’s history.

“We recognize this is an area we still need to look at in order to staff appropriately,” said Sullivan. “We specifically looked at every position in the company because we try to be competitive within the community and also within the industry. “

Because The Ponds is one of Routt County’s only affordable housing options and only houses 500 of 2,000 employees, Sullivan said Ski Corp. , retail and rental, and assigns a number of units to each of these departments.

Following a national trend, Sullivan said Ski Corp. also struggled to hire employees, especially in his entry-level positions.

“During the summer, we were still looking for employees, but right now, with our recruiting efforts for the winter, we are targeting different markets, and it is moving forward,” said Sullivan. “We also try to plan different scenarios if we are not fully staffed. “

Jen Miller, public relations and communications manager at Winter Park Resort, Steamboat’s sister resort hosted by parent company Alterra Mountain Co, said Winter Park was also struggling to find and retain employees, which Miller said. attributed in part to the high cost of living in Colorado. mountain towns.

“The sheer nature of real estate in these small mountain communities exacerbates the search for seasonal housing for workers,” Miller said. “We need people to come and support our tourism economy, but we also need affordable housing. “

Winter Park offers employee housing located throughout Grand County. Miller said part belonged to the complex, but part was contracted with lodges and other accommodation units.

“As with other resorts, the work is very seasonal, so to attract and retain the right people we need to at least help solve the housing issues that seasonal workers face,” Miller said.

Miller said she hopes the city of Winter Park finds a solution to help its affordable housing crisis by getting former short-term rental owners to start long-term rentals.

“It’s not just a Winter Park or Steamboat issue; it’s a Colorado problem, a Rocky Mountain problem, and a national problem, ”Miller said. “Nationally, wages have not increased with the prices and values ​​of real estate. “

Miller said Winter Park doesn’t have an entry-level salary, but a search for the station’s employment site shows that most jobs start around $ 14 to $ 15 an hour.

The Steamboat Pilot & Today has made several attempts to contact Vail Resorts, which owns the Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone and Breckenridge resorts in Colorado, as well as several out-of-state resorts and Whistler Blackcomb in Canada, but the company no did not return the requests. for information.

However, according to the Vail Daily, Vail Resorts announced in June that each of its employees would receive an entry salary of $ 15 an hour.

Steamboat Resort is hosting a career fair Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Steamboat Grand, and their job listings can be found at steamboat.com/emploi.

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