RANGELEY — Forget Match.com. Forget eHarmony.com. Rangeley’s got Romance on the Chairlift on Valentine’s Day at Saddleback Ski Resort and $25 lift tickets for everyone that day.

It’s a unique foray into the world of speed dating using the Rangeley double chairlift for an 8.5-minute ride up the mountain.

Daters who connect can then ski or ride down together or take their separate ways to the bottom and try again with someone new all day long.

“It’s a little gift from the big mountain with a lot of heart,” JoAnne Taylor, marketing director, said Thursday afternoon.

“People can go on as many dates or rides up on the lift as they like, and should they find they don’t want the date to end quite yet, they’d then be able to ski back down together. No pressure.”

There’s also no age limit.

“It’s on a Monday. Most young kids will be in school,” she said.

Participants in Saddleback’s speed dating will be given a red heart on their lanyard with the purchase of the discounted lift ticket, and then get in the lines of single men and women at the Rangeley chairlift.

The debut speed dating on a chairlift idea took a while to gel.

“For a few years now, people have been saying, ‘Got any new marketing ideas?’ and I said to them, ‘Well, I’ve got one. It’s Marry Me Ski Free,’” Taylor said.

“We put them on all the single people and, you know, it will generate some conversation, maybe we could book some weddings, show what a friendly staff we are, and then as a joke, I said, ‘Or we could do speed dating on the Rangeley chair.’”

Taylor said she kept mulling it over and said why not?

“I mean everybody you talk to is talking about Match.com or eHarmony, all these dating sites,” she said.

“It’s rare that somebody isn’t on them if they’re single, and I thought this (speed dating idea) is natural. These are people who already like to ski. They already like Saddleback. They already like winter sports. So they have three things in common before they even hit the chair.”

Taylor, who books 16 to 24 weddings annually at the resort, said she thought the idea might be fun to see who shows up.

“I decided I could do a vow renewal ceremony at the top of the mountain on Valentine’s Day if people were interested,” she said.

They aimed a marketing campaign at the singles scene.

“It’s on the web,” said Taylor, who has also blogged about it on the resort’s website.

“We sent it out to all of our guests in an eBlast. It was picked up by the Boston Globe. A couple of ski writers picked it up, but locally, I don’t think it’s gotten out. As a special incentive, I’m offering lift tickets that day for $25, so if you’re single and ski, rather than sitting home alone, you can come up here and meet lots of people who love to ski and ride.”

And the reaction?

“A lot of people think it’s great,” Taylor said.

“On Facebook I’ve heard, ‘Oh, that’s great! I’m coming.’ I’ve heard other people sort of just laugh and say, ‘What are you talking about? How are you going to do this?’ and I said, ‘Look, it’s just something fun to do. You ride up the chairlift with somebody anyways. So on that day, if both of you have little red hearts on your stickers, it means that you’re a potential date.’”

She said resort staff are excited about pulling it off.

“We’ve got fudge hearts made up and chocolates that we can sell here in the lodge, we’ve got a sale going on down in the ski shop that day,” Taylor said. “Anything red is 30 percent off. We’re going to have specials on food and drinks in the pub, so we’re making a big day out of Valentine’s Day here.”

They hope people will come, get a laugh and maybe make some new friends.

“And who knows? Maybe I’ll book a wedding out of this,” she said. “If it really works, then they can come back and book a wedding.”

[email protected]

For more information about Saddleback Ski Resort’s “Romance on the Chairlift” speed dating event, call JoAnne Taylor at 864-5671 ext. 115 or [email protected] or visit www.saddlebackmaine.com.


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