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Alta states

he Revolution Continues: New Intrawest Boss Reveals Fortress Strategy



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What’s most interesting (to me at least) was the reaction to the announcement from the Vail business community.

“It’s almost inconceivable to get worse news in the town of Vail,” said Kaye Ferry, executive director of the Vail Chamber and Business Association. “Bill’s hallmark is customer service, understanding who our guest is and what our role is in regard to that guest.”

What a sea change. The last boss on the mother ship, Alex Wasilov, was a no-nonsense corporate fixer who was brought in by Intrawest to clean out the stables and streamline the operation. He didn’t know about skiing, snow or mountains. His job wasn’t about guest satisfaction or creating memorable experiences, it was about bringing order to a collapsed house of cards.

Just listen to what Fortress principal, Wes Eden had to say about him during the Jensen announcement. “We’ve come a long way in 15 months and we are extremely grateful for the effort and leadership of Alex.”

A long way indeed. The last time we checked in with the company’s progress, Wasilov had just turned the whole operation on its head. “For the first time in its history,” I wrote last summer, “Intrawest is giving full authority to one person at each resort. No more endless layers of senior managers sitting in Vancouver (or Whistler or Colorado) second-guessing a resort leader’s every move. No more edicts from above that result in sterile, cookie-cutter resort experiences (but save money). Whether success or failure – whether boom or bust – the buck now stops at the feet of the newly minted Resort Chiefs.”

I ended that column with a couple of questions. “Will the new Intrawest structure work? Or is this simply a fiendishly clever Darwinian design that will help the folk at Fortress get rid of the loser resorts and hang on to the top performers? Sadly, I don’t have the answer to any of these questions. Only time will tell…”