Agreement Could Be Signed This Week
MOUNTAIN VILLAGE – Following a period of uncertainty due to protracted negotiations over specific contract terms, the Telluride Mountain Village Owners Assn. appears to be just one step away from signing a finalized agreement with StraightOut Media and Marketing to provide funding for Telluride Gay Ski Week 2015.
TMVOA President Greg Pope stated via email on Aug. 11, “An agreement was reached this afternoon,” and said in a follow-up email the next morning that he would be able to confirm the event “once an agreement is signed, I expect today or tomorrow.”
Although TMVOA voted 3-1 to approve $66,000 in funding for Gay Ski Week 2015 at a Feb. 19 meeting, TMVOA and StraightOut were unable to solidify the rest of the agreement.
In a recent interview, Pope declined to get into specifics, but did say with regard to the contract, “One of the goals was to create processes to more accurately measure the participation and economic impact of the event. We have been able to agree on processes to help accomplish that.”
According to a previous statement from StraightOut Media’s John McGill, the exact dates for GSW 2015 will not be announced until the contract terms are settled to his and StraightOut’s satisfaction.
According to minutes from the TMVOA board’s February meeting, what was never up for debate was the belief that GSW has a strong economic impact on the Telluride Ski Resort and Mountain Village.
During the public comment period at that Feb. 19 meeting, Colorado Flights Alliance Chief Operating Officer Matt Skinner said that although “the producer does take some fees, the majority of the funding flows into the destination. According to air numbers from the last three years the data supports the fact that air travel is comparable between Presidents’ Day, the first week of March (spring break) and Gay Ski Week.”
Although “it would be hard to make up for the economic benefit that the event provides for the community,” said TMVOA Chairman Jeff Proteau, similar Gay Ski Week events at Aspen and Whistler are subsidized by foundations and/or nonprofits. Proteau would like to see Telluride’s Gay Ski Week become self-sustaining by 2016.
TMVOA Director Noel Daniel reported earlier this year that the two GSW-sponsoring hotels see an increase in income during Gay Ski Week. Last year, the Hotel Madeline saw a 25 percent increase (and its two restaurants, Smak bar and Rev, saw a boost in food and beverage sales), and the Hotel Lumiere reported a 10 percent revenue increase. Retail businesses see an uptick in sales and numbers as well, with Bootdoctors co-owner Penelope Gleason reporting that the store “does see increased businesses and revenue from Gay Ski Week, and we have always been a strong supporter of it both in terms of business and our personal philosophies and values. We do hope we will continue to have it here.”
Peaks Hotel General Manager Dave Ciani, on the other hand, questioned whether the comps and staffing pay off, and echoed Proteau’s hope that GSW will soon be self-sustaining so that TMVOA can support new festivals and events.
While TMVOA will still fund the GSW 2015 event once the agreement is signed, Pope reiterated his hope last week “for the event to become sustainable in the future without financial assistance from TMVOA.”
Gay Ski Week is not just about numbers and money, however. Like any other event or festival, Telluride’s Gay Ski Week brings along with it certain intangible benefits. For some participants, it has been an introduction to Telluride’s natural beauty and charm, enticing them to return to the town, instead of visiting other places for events and vacations.
As Telluride GSW participant Michael “Mica” Salat said in a recent interview, “I came to Telluride’s Gay Ski week with the intention of trying a new mountain for each of their gay weeks in subsequent years, but Telluride cast its spell on me, and I have been returning every year for the festivities. I probably would never have discovered Telluride if not for Gay Ski Week, and I think it’s the combination of amazing natural beauty and the free spirited openness of all the folks from town who welcome us with open arms” every year.
According to several gay travel sites, such as Rainbow Travel and Queertrip.com, Telluride’s Gay Ski Week is one of the best, if not the best Gay Ski Week in the country.