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Encompasse Tours LLC Announces Acquisition of the FACES Conference
Encompasse Tours LLC is pleased to announce its' acquisition of the FACES Conference. FACES (more formally identified as "The Foundation for Advanced Craniofacial Educational Seminars") has held a Continuing Medical Education event in the Mountain West for over 25 years. It's principals, Dr. Paul Thomas and Dr. Myron Tucker, will be heading up their final meeting as Event Directors at Big Sky Resort in Bozeman, MT. from March 9-16. The meeting hosts approximately 200 people annually, comprised of Faculty, Sponsors, and family. For further information on the event, please visit www.faces-ski.org
Established in 2004, Encompasse Tours is a Tour Operator representing a diverse array of CME/CLE, Meeting and Group events throughout the United States with roughly $1.7m in annual sales servicing 1200 + travelers. "FACES is a great addition to our business", said Doug Horstman. "We look forward to continuing to grow this event with an extremely talented core of Physicians." Encompasse has also taken ownership of the FACES web domain. In speaking of the agreement, Paul Thomas emphasized his desire to "provide for the continued successful legacy of the event"... noting that "Horstman/Encompasse have a 20 year history with this meeting". Dr. Thomas finished by saying that " keeping continuity with our Travel Supplier gives this Conference it's best opportunity to flourish in the years ahead".
"Purchasing the rights to this meeting was an easy decision for us", Horstman continued. "We are completely committed to growing this Conference moving forward, we're excited to be working with its new principals, and we will leverage our ownership of the Conference to obtain the most attractive vendor contracting possible for its' attendees when selecting the meeting venue for 2014 and beyond".
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Doug Horstman discusses Crested Butte expansion with Wall Street Journal
Slump Mutes Call of the Wild
By JIM CARLTON
CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. -- The promise of new jobs amid a recession is weakening the resolve of some rural residents to keep wildlands from development.
That dynamic is evident around this historic mining town of about 1,650, which had long opposed a ski-resort expansion from nearby Mt. Crested Butte to the neighboring national-forest lands of Snodgrass Mountain. The proposal, which has come up several times in the past 30 years, had been repeatedly shot down by locals concerned skiing would ruin the popular hiking and biking area.
But with the downturn, the Snodgrass expansion has been resurrected -- and this time it's drawing wide support. That's because the development would likely fuel a job surge in an area reeling from a slide in real estate and tourism. Housing prices are off as much as 20% from their 2006 peak, local officials say, while sales-tax receipts have slipped as much as 15% from 2008. Meanwhile, unemployment in surrounding Gunnison County rose to 5.9% in June from 3.8% a year ago.
"The down economy definitely helps get people to support the expansion, because they understand the need to stimulate our ski product to get more people to come here," says Joseph Fitzpatrick Jr., town manager of Mt. Crested Butte, at the base of the resort.
In some other Colorado towns, conservationists can't find the money they need to keep land pristine. In the Mosquito Range near Denver, efforts keep privately-owned acreage attached to old mining claims free from development have so far failed because the working-class area couldn't raise $5 million to put the land into a trust, says Jason Corzine of the Trust for Public Land, a San Francisco-based environmental group.
But in southwestern Colorado, homeowners in upscale Telluride -- including actors Tom Cruise and Darryl Hannah -- raised $24.5 million in 2006 and 2007 for a local war chest of $50 million. Telluride used those funds to pay for the seizure of 570 acres of valley floor from San Miguel Valley Corp., which had planned to develop part of it. The Colorado Supreme Court in June upheld the seizure.
Elsewhere in the country, the recession is opening up some conservation opportunities, as landowners seek to sell properties where development is no longer economically feasible.
In Crested Butte, resort officials proposed at least three times between the late 1970s and 1994 to add the gentler terrain of Snodgrass to their steep ski area. But local residents complained so loudly that the Forest Service, which owns the land, retreated from allowing the application process to go through, keeping the bulldozers off Snodgrass, a pine-and aspen-covered peak of 11,145 feet.
In 2004, Vermont resort developers Tim and Diane Mueller bought the ski property and dusted off the Snodgrass plans. To reduce controversy, they downsized the proposed expansion to 275 acres from 417 acres and spent two years holding public meetings to muster support. CNL Lifestyle Properties Inc. has since bought Mt. Crested Butte Resort, but the Muellers continue to operate it.
Then the economy tanked. As business dried up, those who previously didn't back the Snodgrass expansion changed their minds. "Standing still for us isn't an option in a competitive world," says Mickey Cooper, Crested Butte's former mayor and a real-estate broker who previously was skeptical of an expansion.
Another supporter is Jon LaDuke, a local insulation and painting contractor. The 42-year-old, who previously thought the expansion proposal was too large, says he now desperately needs more business from the development; his bookings are so slow he has sidelined seven of 12 employees this year. "For those of us who have to generate an income here, it's not easy," he says.
In April 2008, a poll by the Crested Butte/ Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce found 60% of 134 businesses supported the expansion. By June 2008, a poll by a local online publication in nearby Gunnison tallied 88% of 250 respondents favoring the plan.
Not everyone is sold. Crested Butte's town council in April 2008 passed a motion opposing the expansion. Alan Bernholtz, mayor of Crested Butte, said one of his concerns is the ski area hasn't presented any evidence the Snodgrass expansion would boost tourism to the area. "Meanwhile, there are a lot of people in my community who feel that by not expanding we will attract more people by keeping it pristine," Mr. Bernholtz says.
Opponents also assert the resort is pushing Snodgrass to promote real-estate development. "This isn't about skiing, it's about real estate," says Vicki Shaw, president of a group called Friends of Snodgrass.
Resort officials deny that developing Snodgrass is about real estate.
In June, Forest Service officials determined there was enough local support to accept the resort's application to begin an environmental-review process, a key step toward regulatory approval. "Snodgrass wasn't needed as much a few years ago. But that changed when the economy went down the drain," says Corey Wong, a spokesman for the local Forest Service office in Delta.
Points from the article, above, were excerpted from the following correspondence:
I enjoyed your article today on the flap over the proposed additional ski terrain in Crested Butte [page 3 in today's WSJ].
I am a Ski Tour Operator; I have been almost exclusively selling ski travel packages throughout North America for over 17 years now. My clientele mainly consist of groups of 30 or more persons per trip, and I've visited and/or skied perhaps fifty major resorts in this region, including Crested Butte.
The fact of the matter is, with its unusually challenging terrain, Crested Butte is too difficult a mountain to ski to attract 3/4ths of the ski demographic. You correctly noted that the addition of the Snodgrass plans would bring more gentle terrain to the resort, which is *precisely* what the Ski Tourist (and therefore the resort) needs. Furthermore, let's face it; at 6+ hours out of Denver on a good day in the Winter, Crested Butte is exclusively a destination resort (with the large majority of air servicing coming via Gunnison). It can't cater to a large amount of high flying, expert [black diamond] locals that a Snowbird in Utah can at only 17 nautical miles from downtown Salt Lake City.
Most astonishing to me were the comments made by the Mayor of Crested Butte, Alan Bernholtz, who, per your article states "one of his concerns is the lack of evidence…that the Snodgrass expansion would boost tourism to the area."
I find his assessment to be extraordinarily flawed, particularly from the Mayor of Mt. Crested Butte. It's no well kept secret in Colorado that this is an experts hill, and expanding to provide even a pared down amount of intermediate terrain, in my considered opinion, would have DRAMATIC impact on tourist interest for those folks who, quite correctly, are too intimidated to ski it right now.
Take a look at the trailmap, and you'll see what I mean. The Snodgrass proposal is so unimpeachably valuable to this resort, I can only assume that Mr. Bernholtz' loyalties lie with the environmental left. Aside from the proposed trifle acreage expansion of 275 acres, of which only perhaps 40% consists of "cut trails" in an area less than 5% the size of Vail, skiing is a sport that is entirely harmonious with nature.
Text of Carlton conversation with Horstman
Thanks for [your information] Doug. These are really powerful observations, and speak directly to why the resort is planning this expansion in the first place. The opposition keeps saying there is no correlation between increased terrain of a ski area and increased visitors (they cite Vail, for example). But as you bring in ski tours, it sounds like they could get some extra business from [organizations such as yours].
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