A Colorado ski resort in the United States is taking the recommendations for social distancing to a new level, literally. The resort is setting up gondolas that have been transformed into private dining rooms that allow customers to dine in a warm setting set up in the air. The original idea has found a host of fans, saved the business of an American woman and helped the resort’s restaurants, which were deprived of customers.
“I was slowly planning to go bankrupt — no joke,” Dominique Bastien told Food and Wine. The owner of The Gondola Shop, a company specializing in the purchase and renovation of gondolas, had much cause for concern at the beginning of the winter.
The American entrepreneur has a simple business model: renovate gondolas and then sell them as repurposed units for apres-ski installations or events. It started as a niche market with the occasional order that supplemented the income she got from her regular business of polishing and repainting gondolas still in use at resorts.
Of course the onset of covid-19, and its set of restrictions, changed everything. Dominique Bastien saw her contracts dwindle to nothing. The entrepreneur had reached the point where she felt that her only way out was to go bankrupt.
The order that sparked a new trend
However, an unexpected phone call from the Town of Mountain Village changed all that. This resort, not far from Telluride in the state of Colorado, gave her a surprising order: 25 gondolas to be transformed into eating areas with heating, lighting and Bluetooth sound systems which could host customers of the resort’s restaurants, which had to find new ways of operating safely. Bastien, used to transforming the gondolas into saunas or doghouses for private customers, did not hesitate for a single second, rolled up her sleeves and honored the order.
This last-minute proposal not only kept her from closing her business, but also allowed her to earn a considerable amount of money. The cabins were bought for $5,000 each, and then sold for $15,000 to $20,000 or rented for $500 a month.
Since then, the woman who was running her small business with little fanfare has emerged with flying colors. And the entrepreneur concludes, “It just got crazy. Things turned out really weirdly but really well.”