As far as kid-friendly ski resorts go, Sunlight Mountain Resort—located 12 miles south of Glenwood Springs and 30 miles northwest of Aspen—boasts several unique reasons for families to visit. Sunlight offers free parking within walking distance of lifts, 67 trails leading directly to the lodge to meet up with the group at the end of a few runs, and a full day of skiing for about half the cost of bigger resorts, according to the resort’s site.
And with its popular Ski, Swim and Stay ski-vacation package, where kids 12 and under ski free and families can begin their après-ski regimen at Glenwood Hot Springs, Sunlight Mountain was recognized during the 2017/18 ski season by the National Ski Areas Association for the Best Family Ski Package.
But nothing quite says “family friendly” like the resort’s most unique kid-centric program: an annual campaign electing a Mini-Mayor.
The idea came in 2015, when 4-year old Elijah Mattson of Glenwood Springs approached the resort with an impassioned plea via social media, begging the resort to open early for the 2015-16 season. Sunlight Mountain officials responded by appointing Mattson as the resort’s first Mini-Mayor.
“On any given day, our lodge is a sea of people under 5-foot tall,” says Troy Hawks, the resort’s marketing and sales director, estimating at times a ratio of up to 10 kids to 1 adult. “If we look at the demographic of our customers, kids are a majority stakeholder. So let’s give them a voice.”
This season’s winner was 5-year-old Colby Rogers of Rifle, Colo., who claimed victory last November in a tight race against 9-year-old incumbent Gabby Noyes. Her goals as Mini-Mayor included adding her favorite food, spaghetti, to the menu, a feat she achieved by offering Spaghetti Sundays, where 10 percent of the proceeds benefited the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Rogers also lobbied the Sunlight executive team to paint the chairlifts her favorite color, pink; they responded by painting one chair to honor her Spaghetti Sundays. And most important, she wanted to get more kids interested in skiing or boarding, including her younger brother, Kelby, whom she helped learn to ski this year while honing her own skills.
Rogers’ campaign manager and mom, Jade Rogers, also hoped the role would help her daughter “improve her public-speaking skills, and understand that being a leader means helping people.”
As part of her win, Mini-Mayor Rogers received a free Sunlight season pass, a new pair of skis or a snowboard and a seat at Sunlight’s Executive Table.
The office of Mini-Mayor serves a one-year term, with a two-term limit (incumbents can only be re-elected once). Only kids aged 12 and under can hold the office of Mini-Mayor. As part of the election, adult campaign managers assist Mini-Mayor candidates in completing an online profile on the campaign page at www.mini-mayor.com. Candidates are asked to upload photos, videos, and outline what they would do in their first 100 days in office.
Next year’s voting process begins immediately on Sept. 1, 2018. Polls close on Tues., Nov. 6, 2018 at 7 p.m.
For more information on the election, or to find out about closing-weekend events March 31-April 1, visit the resort’s event schedule here.