Middle Aged Spread: Premium Experience

By Sam Masters

I didn’t like young people even when I was young. The gap between how young people think the world works and how it actually works explains why they are so ruthlessly exploited as unpaid interns, customer-service impact pads and cannon fodder.

There is precious little to recommend youth now that Botox, Viagra, HRT and cosmetic surgery allow everyone to look and feel young. Now that young people dye their hair grey and hipster grandads have Instagram accounts it has actually become difficult to identify young folk by sight or behaviour. They only give themselves away with abundant unsolicited lifestyle/job/snowsports advice. A young person’s single defining attribute is, of course, their complete inability to recognize a premium experience.

It’s easy to confuse expense with excellence. I’m constantly amazed by the ordinariness with which social media stars live their supposedly gilded lives. Adding a chauffeur and acres of leather upholstery to a minivan still leaves you pootling around in a… minivan. Home-baked bread is a premium experience. A home-delivered over-handled meal prepared by a fancy restaurant is not.

Not even a marketing manager negotiating a pay rise would call the Chill resorts the best in the world. On their day, however, they define a premium experience: one that is unique, tends to be earned rather than purchased, has spectacular quality for cost, and is a little unexpected. Powder snow is curiously indifferent to whether you accessed it via a rope tow or helicopter.

New Zealand weather is variable. The conditions that deliver premium powder tend not to last long. Sometimes it’s critical to ski in the storm to get it light and blower. In a nice counterpoint night skiing increases visibility and augments depth perception. Blackout trumps a whiteout. Broken River and Mt Olympus surely have some of the world’s most agricultural night skiing infrastructure. Ropey as it is – this is still key to the best resort powder skiing in NZ; a premium Chill experience.

At some point in life food ceases to be simply fuel for living and becomes a sensual pleasure in its own right. This usually coincides with the child-bearing years: a time when your genitals are neatly doggy-bagged and used only – and infrequently – for procreation.

Cold, fatigue and snowsports all sharpen the appetite - already considered a concealed weapon above 1600 metres. Hunger is an excellent cook; and many a ski lodge dinner queuer has lost a hand or forelimb to those less fussy about their preferred source of protein.

Rumour has it that Broken River’s chef worked in a Michelin-starred restaurant and Marcos at Mt Olympus delivers consistently outstanding food at what is, surely, the South Island’s most remote restaurant. I make no further comment except to note that I am now forced to wear my tow belt around my left thigh rather than my waist.

The wealthy and famous frequently seek to exclude whilst simultaneously showing off. This explains why it is so crucial that VIP areas are still visible to other patrons. It is not enough to succeed; you must convince others that they have failed. The premium experience is quite different; to share a unique thrill with those who could be bothered. One of my best days ever was a drizzly late spring mid-week Broken River slush fest. Who cares about snow conditions when the BBQ is a vegan nightmare and your car is the only one in the car park?