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The Russians Are Coming... And Demanding Versace

With newly-moneyed Russian oligarchs rolling into town in fluorescent peach ski suits with $100,000 a week vacation budgets like it's going out of style, Aspen and Vail are seeing the number of Russian guests increase from 150 three years ago to 500 this season. This new group of international patrons, feeling more comfortable in the US since Cold War tensions have died down, is "brusque, flashy and fickle," as one hotelier described them. There's some adjustments that need to be made by Colorado concierges, valets, and ski instructors, though:

Grow a tough skin. The Russians are known to have an emotional self-mastery that rarely releases an acknowledgement of genuine enjoyment, even when cruising in untracked powder. They can be gruff if not rude, and don't worry themselves with showing up on time for reservations.

Know where to shop. Gucci and Prada may be up to three times more expensive in Moscow than in Aspen or Vail. Russian guests will want to cash in on the discounted prices (who knew?), so make sure you know your retail.

Show them around town. Muscovite millionaires typically have to take a security car service around town, and relish the relative anonymity of walking around a beautiful Colorado village in head-to-toe fur.

Don't get too attached. Oil-rich oligarchs can afford to be fickle. One private ski instructor in Aspen who specializes in Eastern European students got dropped when his Russian students decided temps were too cold during the recent cold snap and bailed for the Caribbean in a chartered jet.

· Super-rich Russians are coming! [Denver Post]