KETCHUM, Idaho – Gen Xers — the age group from roughly the mid-20s to the mid-40s — have been emptying out of ski towns for much of this century, instead moving to cities where housing costs are lower and better paying jobs exist.
This comes during a time when ski towns are distinctly grayer, a result of baby boomers who arrived in ski towns during the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s staying in place, independent, location-neutral entrepreneurs arriving, and retirees arriving for their golden but still active years.
The statistics are rather jarring. Consider Idaho’s Blaine County, where Ketchum and Sun Valley are located. Those aged 65 and above increased 47 per cent in recent years, while the number of boomers increased 32 per cent.
But those aged 15 to 44, reports the Idaho Mountain Express, declined 3 per cent.
Other ski-based mountain towns have similar statistics.
Some in Idaho think that Ketchum and Sun Valley are entirely too stodgy, Jima Rice, an economic consultant, tells the Mountain Express. “We still market a 1938 image,” she told the Idaho Mountain Express. “It’s put us behind the curve. We’re not marketing to the right market.”
The story provoked several e-mail responses to the newspaper’s website. One correspondent, Rick Lethbridge, said he had left Ketchum to a well-paying job in the finance industry in Seattle. The money has been good, city life interesting, but he now wants to get back to the small community and lifestyle. “I need to get back to my roots and solidify myself in what really makes me happy.”
Another, unidentified blogger, thinks that ski towns have strengths that the outside world does not. People there are a lot more innovative and progressive, says the blogger.
“I’m not trying to knock the rat-race communities (OK, maybe I am), but people in major cities tend to take on the role of specialized ants and there is little innovation over a long period of time with that sort of cube-rate culture.”
Ski towns, with their high costs of living, “force the community to smarten up and form a new reality that isn’t exactly one already created by generica.”
‘Adventure’ takes on new meanings
BEAVER CREEK, Colo. – “Experiential adventures” are a growing trend in the travel business, according to a speaker at a recent tourism conference.
Daniel Levine told attendees at the conference that a hotel in Finland has glass-topped “igloo” suites so guests can lie in bed and watch the Northern Lights. A guide company in Lisbon, Portugal, offers tours in which customers wear blindfolds and are led around the city by blind people to experience the sounds, smells and feelings of the city.”