Corporate mountain events still busted; personal party biz booming

The number of corporate events held at Colorado’s glitzy resort towns may still be down, but wealthy families aren’t holding back on fancy ski-town weddings, spending high even as many working-class Coloradans have been brought low by the recession.

At least that’s the report from High Country News this week:

“The party business is going “gangbusters!” Rachel Smiley, co-owner of Alpine Party Rentals in Vail, Colo., said a few weeks ago. Like many other party companies, Alpine isn’t doing quite as much business as it did before the economy tanked, but, Smiley observed, “There are still folks out there absolutely spending money.” At one recent gig — a two-night event hosted by a couple from Chicago — Alpine’s portion of the staging ran $75,000.

Weddings comprised the majority of the glittering events, according to interviewed party planners. Still apparently reeling over presidential criticism of their big-spending ways, many companies are said to be more hesitant to book lavish parties in glitzy ski towns. (That’s even after tourism execs in Snowmass and Aspen lashed back at the President for his careless words.)

James Woodruff, who runs Crux Events and Party Rentals in the Lake Tahoe area on the California-Nevada border, says he used to stage corporate parties as far away as Aspen, Colo., but lately, fewer corporations are partying. He cites two reasons — frugality and scandals over executives’ corruption and lavish lifestyles. “A lot of the (corporate) boondoggles are down. A lot of that is too in-your-face for the clients and management now.”

What to do if this news sends you into another bout of populist rage? Well, perhaps we should all just be grateful that those flaming fountains, antler chandeliers, and crystal wineglasses are being put to use somewhere.

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Katie Redding

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