When it comes to fresh powder the best go west, young man. But they don’t go it alone. Savvy skiers and smart shredders enlist the help of a ski butler to service their gear.
Think about it, knowing what to bring on a cold weather vacation can be tough. You have to be prepared for all kinds of extreme conditions on the slopes. Will it be face-freezing cold or sunny and warm at the summit? Your luggage automatically doubles in size just from stowing your down jacket, heavier sweaters, and technical base layers. And that’s before adding your boots, hats, and gloves. Once you’ve wrestled that extra pair of long johns into your overstuffed suitcase, you still have to tune up your actual gear. Hauling around your skis, poles, boards, and wax can be the worst part of the trip.
That’s where Ski Butlers, an award-winning ski and snowboard rental delivery service steps in to lighten the load and maximize your time on the mountain. We caught up with Steve Giangiulio from Ski Butlers for a lesson.
What exactly does a ski butler do? And how can working with one give your Rocky Mountain ski trip a lift?
To put it simply, Ski Butlers brings the ski shop to you and will meet at a convenient location to fix any technical issues within 45 minutes.We have shops in 18 locations servicing 47 Ski Resorts worldwide. Travelers can book online at www.skibutlers.com or simply call the local shop at the resort they are traveling to to set up a reservation. Guests select a delivery window that will fit best with their travel plans. We collect all relevant renter information and support guests in choosing the proper equipment so that they can have the best on-mountain experience. We then pack up their selected gear and head off to meet our customers at their accommodations for a personalized fitting. Also, as a customer of Ski Butlers, we don’t just deliver the equipment and then pick it up at the end of their stay, we are here for guests entire ski vacation by providing full on-mountain support should any issues arise.
When it comes to our on-mountain support service, with just one quick phone call, we will come to you if you need something adjusted on the slopes. And on your last ski day when you want to enjoy the final hours of your trip, our customers don’t have to lug their rented equipment to a shop; they can just relax and have us come to pick up their gear.
Can skiers bring their own gear?
Skiers and riders can certainly bring their own gear. When folks have equipment they like, they want to use them at these world-class resorts. When guests are renting our equipment, we do all of our tuning and waxing in-house, and we don’t deliver equipment unless we know the customer will be pleased. That being said, things happen, if a customer of ours wants a little more edge or wax on their own skis and board, they can simply call us, and we will take care of their request at no extra charge.
Does it pay to ship your skis to the resort ahead of time?
The benefit of shipping your equipment ahead of time falls under the convenience category. People who do that don’t have to worry about lugging the gear through the airport and paying extra baggage fees. However, due to the heaviness of ski and snowboard equipment, shipping could be expensive, and there is always the chance of a package getting lost or delayed due to snowstorms that hit the mountains. We see that about 1-2 times per year.
Skiing is way more enjoyable if you’re comfortable. Is there a secret for getting the perfect fitting boot? Do you have a favorite brand of ski socks?
Ski boots are tough, and they are not made for walking, they can feel goofy at times, and a traditional rental boot typically is designed to fit 80% of the feet that go into them.
I would say the secret to a perfect fitting boot has two elements. The first being physical. We tell our customers during the fitting that their set up should go…skin, socks, and boots. Meaning don’t stuff any leggings, compression pants, long john’s, etc. down into the boot. When the boot is all buckled up it will get very snug and wherever those pants land are where some pain points and circulation issues can come up which ultimately leads to discomfort on the slopes. You also want the snuggest fit possible when wearing ski boots and try the ski boots on with the ski socks you will be using on the slopes. Lastly, think of your ski boots as a steering wheel to your car. A loose steering will provide a driver with zero control and would be very uncomfortable. Snug boots mean increased control and increased comfort.
When it comes to a brand of socks, SmartWool for sure. They offer a wide variety; from thin to thick, they are breathable and comfortable. We do have SmartWool socks and buffs for purchase as well. We bring a range of sizes on every delivery so if you forget your socks; you have an old pair and want something new. We can take care of that as well.
What is your favorite time of year on the mountain and why?
As a local, my favorite time of year on the mountain is the end of January, early February. In Colorado that’s typically when some big snowfalls come down, it’s after the holiday rush and not too many school vacations line up with that window, so the mountains are typically less crowded.
Rocky Mountain locals use a lot of words to describe snow; buttery, silky, bulletproof to name a few. Can you describe your ideal conditions? And is skiing better in the morning or afternoon?
I have two ideal conditions. The first being when we get 8+ inches of really light and dry snow. When it’s heavy and wet, it can still be fun, but a nice snow dump of light snow makes for smooth and floatable powder conditions. The second is a day or so after a big snow storm and the powder fields have been tracked out. Once that happens, the steep groomers are fantastic. The snow is soft and grippy which makes for some fantastic runs where one can really carve and work on edge control.
Morning versus afternoon really depends on the day and time of year. When snow is falling, or a storm has come in overnight, the morning is best to get some first tracks and typically by the afternoon the snow has been pushed around and makes for choppy conditions. In March, mid to late morning and early afternoon are certainly the best. We’ll have 40-45 degree days which is fantastic for spring skiing. Going out in the morning, the snow will be really hard since it gets very cold overnight, so giving it a couple of hours to warm up and soften the snow, that 11am-1pm period is great for conditions and the mountain in general, since most folks are in for lunch during that window. Up until 2 pm, the snow will still be great, but after that, with the skier and rider traffic, the good soft snow will likely have been pushed off and can lead to icy conditions underneath.
Can you share any tips for adjusting to the altitude? Do those cans of pure O2 really work?
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! On your travel day and that first day up in the mountains drink lots of water. I know it’s vacation and people would like to enjoy some adult beverages, but that first day and that first evening do your best to alternate: One drink and one glass of water.
Take your time on that first day out on the slopes; your body needs to acclimate to the high altitude. If your accommodations have access to fitness facility, ride the bike for 10-15 minutes before heading out to take your first turns so blood can get pumping in your legs and it will also aid in getting your red-blood-cell count up. People are likely not moving much on that travel day, so it’s always important to warm up.
I can’t speak too much to those cans of pure O2 since I haven’t had to use them. I will say that professional athletes traveling out to Denver for a game use them, so there has to be some positive effect.
Do you have a favorite Rocky Mountain Après Ski spot?
In Vail, I frequent Vendetta’s. It’s about 50 yards away from Gondola One right in the heart of Vail Village. They have great drinks, great food (especially their pizza), good people and everyone is in ski gear and having a great time after their ski day. If you’re staying at Manor Vail a Destination Hotel, you have The Fitz Bar & Restaurant right on site at your disposal with a fantastic atmosphere and fantastic staff.
Over at Aspen, J-Bar at the Hotel Jerome is a must. It’s a landmark spot for the town of Aspen, very classy and traditional with tin ceilings. The overall look feels as if you are truly in a Western Saloon.
For more ski action, check out the world’s best high altitude hotels, fit for ski junkies and snow bunnies alike.