Sure, Keystone is a probably beautiful place – but WHY the distant, expensive locations, TBEX??
Keystone is 98 miles (driving) West of Denver, Colorado and they definitely don’t have a light rail system (such as NYC subways and Vancouver’s SkyTrain) that’s going to take you there from the airport. The closest airport to Keystone with commercial airline service is Vail, Colorado – 51 miles away.
First, let’s take a look at a sampling of some current airfares from airline hub cities to Denver. New York to Denver: A Kayak.com search shows fares currently about $400 round trip, and that’s out of Newark. Nobody likes Newark. It’s $413 from LaGuardia and $523 from JFK. Los Angeles to Denver: $192 round trip. Atlanta to Denver: $269 round trip. Chicago to Denver:$219 round trip.
Now, let’s check out current fares from those same cities to Vail, Colorado. New York to Vail: $560 from EWR, $829 from LGA and an incredible $1162 from JFK! Los Angeles to Vail: $809. Atlanta to Vail: $696. Chicago to Vail: $573. Of course, as we all know air fares are very volatile – so these prices will surely be different. They could be lower, or staggeringly higher. My bet is on higher prices, as fares have been trending upward due to the price of jet fuel. And don’t forget those pesky bag fees! If Candice Walsh drove to Keystone from Halifax in a car that got 20 miles per gallon of gas, she’d spend $479.50 (US) on gas at $3.50 a gallon.
Okay, so you ponied-up for your plane ticket and you opted to fly to Denver because it was cheaper. But wait… how to you get to Keystone? The first option would be to take a shuttle service. Keystone Resort offers one… for $142 round trip from the Denver Airport, and no shuttle from Vail is mentioned on their website. There is also the car rental option. A 4-day rental for an economy car at the Denver Airport currently starts at $113.99, but you’ll probably find a 4-cylinder engine severely lacks the gusto you’d want on mountain roads. A full size sedan will run you $129.10. Your best option would probably be to grab some friends and divide up the cost on a full-size SUV – the cheapest of which is currently about $390 for 4 days. Plus gas, of course! Perhaps Keystone will offer a free TBEX attendee shuttle (*party bus) to/from the Denver Airport.
An Expedia Search found 26 hotels in and near Keystone, with prices-per-night starting at $85. I’m not a big hostel person, but I met several people who do prefer the cheap sleeps. I did a Google search for “Hostels in Keystone, Colorado” and was unsuccessful in finding a viable option. So if you’re a solo-traveler who usually stays on the cheap in hostels, I’ve got two words for you: SLUMBER PARTY. There are also no major brand hotels in Keystone, so you won’t be staying in town for free on loyalty program points. I predict a beer and Nutella-fueled, hippie-style blogger commune at a nearby campground in Dillon, CO. But the drawback there would be a lack or shortage of power outlets for our phones and iWhatevers. Does anyone have a portable generator, or bear repellant?
The Vail Resorts TBEX 2012 press release mentions golf, horseback riding, fly fishing, whitewater rafting and the like – but how many of us can afford excursions like that? Okay, many of those things will likely be discounted, but how about the time investment? Did anyone find a gap in this year’s itinerary to squeeze in a round of golf? Only those who have the extra time to arrive a couple of days early or stay late have that kind of time. I managed to spend a couple of hours in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, but only because I decided to skip the Sunday afternoon sessions of the conference.
Suggestion for 2013
Why not Las Vegas? It holds no shortage of cheap rooms, hundreds of flights, convention space and
places to party side-networking locations. Most of us who have gone to TBEX never slept more than what would qualify as a nap anyway. Or may I suggest Austin, Texas? They’re quite familiar with the large convention scene there (see: SXSW), as well as being highly tech-savvy. Other centrally-located places that come to mind are Nashville and Chicago.
I love Colorado. I have been there several times, to several parts of the state. I hope to live there someday and it is one of my favorite places on earth. Denver would have been a great choice for TBEX 2012, and local enough for the Keystone and Vail Resort sponsors to really convey their message. I have never been to Keystone or any of the Vail Resorts properties, and I’d sure love to one day. One thing we all love about TBEX is the sense of community, but I’m afraid the conference location itself might make TBEX 2012 inaccessible for some.
Note: At the time of this blog’s publication, very few details were provided such as what kind of lodging discounts and transportation assistance may be provided for TBEX 2012. Hotel discounts were offered for TBEX 2011 in Vancouver, but mainly at 4+ star hotels, and still kept the price per night well above $100. Ironically, the Stanley Cup Finals were happening in Vancouver at the same time as TBEX 2011. I couldn’t help but wonder if the best hotels in town weren’t kicking themselves for slashing their rates for us, when they could likely be getting full price from hockey fans.