Sunday, February 17, 2008

Great white yonder

Yikes, a week without posting: I'm a bad, bad blogger. My excuse is that I had the opportunity to ski in Colorado at a bargain-basement price, so I took it. My first time going down the Rockies' trails—and it was quite an experience, on and off the slopes.

Now, my American readers need to understand that when you grow up in Europe, skiing is not the richy-rich sport it is here. Prices are considerably lower and in France, for instance, there's a long-standing tradition of classes de neige (snow classes), when (sub)urban kids are shipped off to the mountains for a week mixing classes and skiing.

It's not quite the same here. I was able to afford the trip only because of a cousin working at the Beaver Creek resort for the season: I crashed in her room and benefited from her huge discount on lift tickets. Our idea of entertainment was trivia night at the local coffee shop/bar ($1 for a Coke). The other skiers' experience was quite different: nearly $700 for private ski lessons for instance, multimillion-dollar houses on the slopes, and an easy $25,000 for a week at the Ritz-Carlton (where ski valets take off your ski boots at the end of the day so you don't have to put in the effort yourself—something I find utterly ridiculous).

Even though I live in New York, where enormous wealth is far from rare, I somehow manage to avoid being directly confronted to it in my daily life. I mean, I know full well that some people on our own Park Slope street live in million-dollar homes while we're lowly renters but they all wear the Slope winter uniform of fleece anyway, and they all get the same $3 breakfast sandwich at the local diner, and they all get the same pizzas delivered. (Well, there was that one time when the Sheila picked up an ATM receipt left by the previous customer and the balance for that checking account read $980,000!)

But being in Beaver Creek and Vail was quite different: The smell of money was pervasive everywhere I turned. It may have had to do with my own guilt in partaking in what is, in the US, an elite sport, like doing polo in the Hamptons or something. The thing is, customers in those resorts are so pampered that lift tickets are hiked to offensively high levels ($92/day is the regular price) to keep the amenities going and, possibly, the number of people (riff-raff?) on the slopes down. It's a reasoning I find absurd in my daily life, and yet I love skiing and so am willing to swallow my class-war guilt and forge ahead.

Interesting detail: My cousin told me that among the countries well represented at the Beaver Creek Ritz are Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela. I guess Chavez's socialist policies still allow some people to do well for themselves…

2 comments:

judy said...

Gah. That's why I never look at left-behind bank receipts. Can you imagine having that kind of dough? Note to self: Play Mega Millions this Friday.

Elisabeth Vincentelli said...

I double-checked after posting this (we have the receipt on the door of our fridge!) and it actually was for $925,00. Sorry, I was off by a few thousand dollars...