When Kristiina Almy and her family rented skis for their trip to Vail, Colo., the gear was delivered to their condo and fitted to them by ski technicians. If snow conditions changed during the Almys’ vacation, the family could swap out their skis for different ones, which would be delivered to their doorstep within an hour. Sounds easy, right? That’s the idea, according to Bryn Carey, founder of Ski Butlers, a company established in Park City, Utah, in 2005 that will deliver its one-millionth rental this year.
“Imagine sitting by the fire and having a glass of wine while someone fits your boots and answers all your questions about where to ski and what restaurants to eat at, and provides other local knowledge,” says Carey. “That is the Ski Butlers difference and why our customers love us.”
Almy can attest to the convenience of using the service: “They showed up right when they said they would and spent quality time making sure we all got the right equipment,” says Almy from Sherborn. “I really liked not having to travel with skis.”
These days, flying with your skis or snowboard can get pricey, and packing gear into a rental car can be a hassle. Sure, you can rent ski or snowboard equipment at your destination, but consider this: Ski Butlers will deliver freshly waxed and tuned gear to your hotel, condo, mountain yurt, or cabin — anywhere that’s accessible by the company’s all-wheel-drive vehicles. This lets you skip potentially long rental lines in the morning.
Upon delivery, a ski technician will fit your boots, skis, snowboards, and poles, and even provide a helmet and other accessories, if needed (helmets, goggles, and insurance cost extra). The delivery packages, which range from $31 to $71, include on-mountain adjustments and equipment replacement within 45 minutes of calling Ski Butlers. That means if you rented good carving skis for groomers and then the area gets a foot of fresh powder, Ski Butlers will swap out your carving planks for powder skis, for instance.
Here’s the catch: Ski Butlers offers these services at 19 locations that serve 47 ski resorts worldwide, meaning it’s not everywhere yet. You can book these services for resorts in California, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming, plus Whistler/Blackcomb in British Columbia and several resorts in the French Alps. Gear gets delivered hourly between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., and then picked up between 4 and 6 p.m. on your final ski day.
The program also gives skiers and snowboarders a chance to try some of the season’s top gear. All of Ski Butlers’ US locations offer the latest Rossignol 7 Series and Experience skis, and the company’s new high-performance demo center at Aspen Resort lets participants try out limited-edition skis and next year’s top-of-the-line Rossignols. Skiers must visit the center for a fitting, but gear can still be delivered, picked up, and swapped out. The new Aspen center opened Dec. 21.
Flying to a destination not covered by Ski Butlers? Consider bringing your own gear and using Bags VIP (www.maketraveleasier.com), a company that will collect your luggage from baggage claim at more than 250 US airports and deliver it to you within four hours for destinations up to 40 miles from the airport (or up to 100 miles within six hours for an additional fee). Transport fees range from $30 for one bag to $50 for up to eight bags.
The service works great on the return trip, too, especially if space is tight on the ride home from the airport or you’re catching a train or taxi. Bags VIP can transport your luggage home from airports in Boston; Portland and Bangor, Maine; Manchester, N.H.; Burlington, Vt.; and Windsor Locks (Bradley International Airport), Conn. Wherever you’re headed this ski season, take advantage of gear delivery services so you can save your energy for ripping down the slopes.
Kari Bodnarchuk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.