Letter from Europe - To Snowy Squaw Valley In A Toyota Highlander, Buh-Bye Grid Girls
Letter from Europe
By Andrew Frankl
European Bureau Chief
The task was simple-drive to Squaw Valley, check out the new facilities, talk to the bosses and find out what we can expect in the future. I should point out that things are rapidly changing in the world of ski resorts. As a result of some mega mergers some of the finest American ski resorts are all part of this huge conglomerate. Having skied in Deer Valley, Mammoth, Alpine and most of the time in Squaw Valley it all sounds pretty amazing with just one big question remaining: how much will a season ticket be if it includes some of the most expensive resorts in the World? And how about local folks who work all week and come up early Saturday morning ? They certainly cannot afford Deer Valley prices or the very expensive restaurants. They are the bed rock of Squaw who-or their parents or grandparents- have been coming up to the resort since lifts were made of wood with two seats. All that is history, having recently been at the top of KT22 –a byword for skiers the World over. Most of the lifts are modern and most importantly padded! All very good but we had to get there somehow. Three people, tons of luggage, skis-you name it.
Luckily we’ve managed to get a Toyota Highlander at the very last minute having realized the amount of stuff it had to carry. Ages since I’ve been in one and it turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. Highlander hybrid V6 AWD was just the ticket. Swallowed all the luggage and was fullnof nice touches. May seem like a minor detail but the parcel self under the instruments turned out to be a blessing. No more “has anyone seen my sunglasses” or oops my phone just fell into that big black bin most SUVs have between the front seats. Add to this something truly relevant such as the comfort and the fuel consumption (26 mpg) and Toyota have yet another winner on their hands. We have had three Prius automobiles in the family over the years without a single mechanical breakdown. Hands up all those who have seen the cheapest version of Uber’s offerings which was not a Prius. Unlikely.
Which brings me to the subject of sponsorship. After a half-baked sponsorship deal with another auto manufacturer Squaw and Toyota got together in a spectacular fashion. You really can’t miss it, they even have their name on some of the funitels that whisk skiers and snow boarders up to the top of the mountain. Clever.
The dealers in Northern California absolutely love it as they get lots of pretty expensive ski passes that they can give to customers, potential customers or hardworking employees. I did suggest to Marketing supremo Christine Horvath that a snow driving school could be educational as well as a lot of fun. I would love to participate. Might just happen.
I am not suggesting that 48 thousand dollars is not a lot of money with this singing-dancing number several less exotic version are available for about 37 thousand dollars.
Some of my colleagues at specialist magazines complained that it was boring to drive but then surely that is the essence of SUVs-to carry families in comfort to their destinations.
On a totally different subject I cannot believe that the so-called grid girls in car racing will be a thing of the past and that their places-allegedly -will be taken by children. Horrendous idea. For a start in the name of political correctness these girls will be deprived of their income and F1 will be a lot less glamorous. And yes, they were wearing a great deal more than students during Spring Break on Miami Beach. The girls were always present from an agency and were properly chaperoned. Should children really be near huge tires, hot exhausts, mechanics in a hurry-who ever thought this one up in wrong.