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Mount Snow Passholders Meeting Details

drjeff

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I guess that this is a meeting report instead of a trip report ;)

Okay, for those of you who couldn't make the hour plus meeting this AM, here's my notes of what was said.

Next Season: MORE fan guns, final numbers/trails still being finalized. Ultimately the plan is to have enough fan guns on the mountain so that the mountain won't need the 10 diesel rental compressors anymore.

West Lake Project: Moving through Act 250 permitting. Currently waiting for the snow to melt around the proposed site so a study can be done to see if the bears native to the area like to eat the trees/shrubs around the site, and if so a transfer of wetlands will likely be made. The entire project WILL NOT be completed before next season due to the permitting process. The plan is unpon permit approval likely later this summer that the basic infastructure around the site will be completed, and then the entire project done intime for the start of the '09/'10 season. Management felt VERY good about getting the permit approval.

Lifts: Earliest would be for the '09-'10 season. The priority mentioned was replacement of the summit local with either a high speed quad or six pack (looking into both options) and then 2nd on the list is upgrading Sunbrook. Long term, it was mentioned that when the Grand Summit Express needs replacement that a Gondola MIGHT be considered. This summer will see ALOT of painting of lifts!

Pass Prices (a hot topic that was brought up many times from many angles). Senior pass prices will over the next year or two be brought in line with the pricing of the Junior pass prices. This is a Peak Resort company wide Policy. It was mentioned that for families with kids in the development program that there is currently a discount for the combined price of the parent and child passes. This will be looked at for season pass holders for daycare and snowcamp too. In general, Mamaspice answered a multitude of questions about this topic and reiterated that Mount Snow's pass prices are very competitive with the competition. Also, when someone asked about the possiblity of an everyday non blacked out Mount Snow only pass (No Crotched/Attitash/Jack Frost), Kelly Pawlak's reply was that the Nor'easter pass is essentially a Mount Snow only pass where they just threw in the others areas as an added value.

Wind Power - a question about the possibility of a wind turbine at the summit for power generation was brought up. The reply, was that nothing this time is being looked at, if for no other reason than all of the legal redtape that the proposed expansion of the existing wind turbine farm in Searsburg has been having over the past few years.

Trail Expansion; In the US Forest service Master plan, 4 additional trails are prosposed that if and when cut will basically run through existing glades. Some existing areas of certain trails may be "given back" to forest service land as a way to widen other trails to facilitate fan guns in the future. A question was asked about a reported rumor that Mount Snow would be eliminating it's Glades, Mamaspice answered "No, end of story"

Next year's plan to bring foriegn workers in should is under way and should be much better than this years, especially since the H2B Visa problem didn't arise until Late Oct/Early November this year.

Ski School - Many questions/comments were asked about how its very difficult short notice to get reseravtions for the kids programs. The answer is that Mount Snow currently has about 260 instructors which is DOWN from around 400 instructors a few years ago - some of this was due to the H2B visa issues. Active recruiting is planned to rebuild the number of instructors - it was mentioned that this is a VERY IMPORTANT area of concern for Peak Resorts!

Base Area Master Plan: There has been a committee formed to look at the Master Plan for development/redevelopment of the main base area. Peak Resorts in all likelyhood would pair with a developer for the devlopment portion. This is very early in planning, and it was mentioned that this project is on the 5 year (if not more) horizon. This devlopment potential would involve base area day lodge facilities, retail space and lodging.

Summer Activities: No current expansion of summer activities are planned as capital expenditures are being made mainly on winter activites only. It was mentioned that since Tim Boyd's sons recently bought some expensive mountain bikes from Mount Snow Sports that mountain biking definately isn't going away!

All in all a very good, infortmative meeting. I'd estimate that 75 to 100 folks were in attendance and about 10 from management made up the panel.

That's enough for now as I need to pick up my kids from daycare/ski school and get to the passholders party! :)
 
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roark

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skiing was pretty good today. tree_skier and the kids spanked me around in the trees 1/2 the day.

re: ski school. No wonder tree_skier was trying to recruit me. I'm too selfish and not patient enough for that stuff tho.

more fan guns is good, interesting to see ridge and meadow on the list.

I'd hate to see trails cut through the trials...
 

tcharron

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In general, Mamaspice answered a multitude of questions about this topic and reiterated that Mount Snow's pass prices are very competitive with the competition.

I have to wonder when the resorts are going to figure out that they're pricing themselves, nearly all of them, out of the pocketbooks of their customers. I'm not saying they shouldn't be looking financially, but it's really possible to lower prices AND bring in MORE money.
 

Vinny

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We weren't able to make the meeting. Thanks a lot for the update.

We hold mid-week season passes and, as with the other passes, the price has gone up again this year. One thing that takes some of the sting away is that Peak is reinvesting in the mountain. As goofy as it sounds, when we see noticeable improvements at least we feel like we're investing in our sport. So far, Peak's involvement has been a very positive one for us.

The West Lake Project is still a concern. With these types of projects "it ain't over 'til it's over". I'll feel a lot better when all the "i"s are dotted and "t"s crossed.

Just a clarification on the Summit Local upgrade. Would the six pack they discussed also be a high speed detachable, or are they looking at that as extra capacity only? A quicker ride up would be the real win.
 

deadheadskier

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Just a clarification on the Summit Local upgrade. Would the six pack they discussed also be a high speed detachable, or are they looking at that as extra capacity only? A quicker ride up would be the real win.


I don't believe I've ever seen a none detachable six before, so I'd imagine it would be a detachable.
 

drjeff

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I have to wonder when the resorts are going to figure out that they're pricing themselves, nearly all of them, out of the pocketbooks of their customers. I'm not saying they shouldn't be looking financially, but it's really possible to lower prices AND bring in MORE money.

One of the questions asked was quite similar to this, it had to do with a 25 year Mount Snow patron/long term pass holder and wondering where the price was going to go for a pass and if Mount Snow's intention was to become "like Stowe". Meri Spicer (a.k.a Mamaspice), Mount Snow's communication director, made the point of saying that the ASC policy of the very low priced all for 1 and multiple, multiple discounts to various ski clubs/gas station promotions/grocery stores, etc for discount tickets was putting Quantity over Quality. It was said that the Peak Resort policy is for Quality over Quantity, this is why DEEP club discounts/school discounts/other cross retail promotions have changed/been eliminated. It was also mentioned that while pass prices have gone up, that Mount Snow pays ALOT of attention to where their competition has priced themselves and set the pass prices to remain "very competitive" in TODAY'S market. The cold, hard reality is that those very deeply discounted pass prices that we experienced across New England at most mjaor resorts are gone.

As a very regular, long time Mount Snow skier, frankly the product that Peak has put on the hill day in and day out, this year has been a noticeable improvement over what has been on the hill day in and day out the past few seasons, and that's also me taking into account how "generous" mother nature has been this year. The vibe around the mountain has been noticeable improved, and I've heard ALOT more "positive" comments in the base area/lift lines. The business philosphy that Peak has brought to Mount Snow about putting the skiing/riding 1st is great, and if I'm going to be charged more $$ each year for a pass AND am seeing constant, substantial improvements in the hill, I'm a VERY happy customer. I know that alot of folks may differ from me on this, but I personally LOVE the New Mount Snow.
 

drjeff

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Just a clarification on the Summit Local upgrade. Would the six pack they discussed also be a high speed detachable, or are they looking at that as extra capacity only? A quicker ride up would be the real win.


Every reference/implication made about the summit local replacement was that it would be a hig speed lift. The implication was that the only real descision to be made when it comes time to start the project is if it would be a 4 or a 6. Absolutely nothing was said about it being a fixed grip.
 

reefer

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Thanks drjeff. As a Mt Snow skier half of the time (15/16 days a year), I have been very pleased with what I've seen so far. It would be unfortunate if they touched any of the glade areas they have right now.
Any scuttlebut about closing date?
 

Newpylong

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Hey everyone. I also was worried about new trails, widening and was pleasantly surpised that they dont plan to hack the place up.

On the passholder's site they told us they do not plan to widen entire trails, just narrow areas. (I presume like the bottom of the Dippers where it will be tough make snow).

Also, it is a Huge IF that more trails will be cut. First goals are more snowmaking and then lifts. Trails are a long way off, if at all. If tree skiing is eliminated by new trails, more will be made. They also did say, you may see some tree areas swapped (closed) for new areas due to forest service concerns. I would quote exactly what was said but Iw asn't sure they would like that. I hope this was a good summary (it made me sit a lot better).

As for pass prices. I will gladly pay more... skiing at Mount Snow is entirely more enjoyable and the product (that is quality skiing) is great improved this year.
 

vcunning

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I have to wonder when the resorts are going to figure out that they're pricing themselves, nearly all of them, out of the pocketbooks of their customers. I'm not saying they shouldn't be looking financially, but it's really possible to lower prices AND bring in MORE money.

There are obviously a variety of approaches to making more money. The one thing I found interesting at the passholders meeting was that a passholder thought that skier visits were down. There were no comments made by Mount Snow management about how their business was doing.

However, I do have some antecdotal data . . . I'm at Mount Snow about every weekend and major school holiday. I pickup my son from Mount Snow daycare at about 3:30 everyday. As such, I get to observe where cars are parked late in the day. The far parking lots are absolutely full, almost every weekend!

I think many skiers think the mountain isn't crowded this year because the lift lines are shorter. However, Peaks has been typically running all lifts within 30 minutes of opening. The skier traffic gets easily spread across the mountain.

My guess is that the mountain may look empty by the lack of lines (compared to the prior years), but the place is packed and their investment and approach is paying off.
 

MommaBear

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Its good to hear they won't be hacking up the trials for more trails. Now if they would just leave us some skiable bumps, we'd be happy. Too many weekends this year have found us in search of bumps. They leave the ones on Bear Trap - which softenend nicely yesterday afternoon. Why not the ones on North Face?
 

tree_skier

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Its good to hear they won't be hacking up the trials for more trails. Now if they would just leave us some skiable bumps, we'd be happy. Too many weekends this year have found us in search of bumps. They leave the ones on Bear Trap - which softenend nicely yesterday afternoon. Why not the ones on North Face?


This seasons rain cycles have made it difficult for bumps on the north face as they do not soften as beartrap does.
 

tree_skier

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Some of the trail widening is due to racing issues. USSA has adopted the new tougher FIS homolagations (sp?) and none of the current trails meet the new requirements. Last year they lost timbers for GS races and that isn't likely to change and next seasons rules would eliminate ego for SL and GS and also southbowl for the speed events. So they are looking at returning ego to width it once was and other options to get trails homolagated for race competitions.
 

tcharron

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One of the questions asked was quite similar to this, it had to do with a 25 year Mount Snow patron/long term pass holder and wondering where the price was going to go for a pass and if Mount Snow's intention was to become "like Stowe". Meri Spicer (a.k.a Mamaspice), Mount Snow's communication director, made the point of saying that the ASC policy of the very low priced all for 1 and multiple, multiple discounts to various ski clubs/gas station promotions/grocery stores, etc for discount tickets was putting Quantity over Quality. It was said that the Peak Resort policy is for Quality over Quantity, this is why DEEP club discounts/school discounts/other cross retail promotions have changed/been eliminated. It was also mentioned that while pass prices have gone up, that Mount Snow pays ALOT of attention to where their competition has priced themselves and set the pass prices to remain "very competitive" in TODAY'S market. The cold, hard reality is that those very deeply discounted pass prices that we experienced across New England at most mjaor resorts are gone.

As a very regular, long time Mount Snow skier, frankly the product that Peak has put on the hill day in and day out, this year has been a noticeable improvement over what has been on the hill day in and day out the past few seasons, and that's also me taking into account how "generous" mother nature has been this year. The vibe around the mountain has been noticeable improved, and I've heard ALOT more "positive" comments in the base area/lift lines. The business philosphy that Peak has brought to Mount Snow about putting the skiing/riding 1st is great, and if I'm going to be charged more $$ each year for a pass AND am seeing constant, substantial improvements in the hill, I'm a VERY happy customer. I know that alot of folks may differ from me on this, but I personally LOVE the New Mount Snow.

Really, my concern is in the long term is when the price goes up 50-100$ per year, every year. The quality vs quantity argument, you have to remember, is directed at us, the customer. "Sure, you can come to us less, because it costs more, BUT, have a better experience when you are here." Time will tell if this works in the long term, however, it does lead to a very large impact when the economic situations worsen, and suddenly, the mountain is closed during the week do to a lack of visitors.
 

Geoff

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Really, my concern is in the long term is when the price goes up 50-100$ per year, every year. The quality vs quantity argument, you have to remember, is directed at us, the customer. "Sure, you can come to us less, because it costs more, BUT, have a better experience when you are here." Time will tell if this works in the long term, however, it does lead to a very large impact when the economic situations worsen, and suddenly, the mountain is closed during the week do to a lack of visitors.

Ski resorts run on diesel fuel (and heating oil which is the same stuff) and electricity. If the price doesn't go up, I don't see how many eastern resorts are viable.
 

tcharron

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Ski resorts run on diesel fuel (and heating oil which is the same stuff) and electricity. If the price doesn't go up, I don't see how many eastern resorts are viable.

Then perhaps some of the future projects moving forward would be to find ways to offset some of those costs. For example, Biodeisel. WaWa just this year started to sanitize the cooking oil they use on the mountain and in the general area, and decreased their raw diesel consumption by 25%.

Now, investments in fan guns does offset this, as ski areas themselves have said they would save money in air compressors alone. So over time much of the cost of the guns themselves directly reduces diesel consumption, lowing their overall energy costs.
 

Geoff

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Then perhaps some of the future projects moving forward would be to find ways to offset some of those costs. For example, Biodeisel. WaWa just this year started to sanitize the cooking oil they use on the mountain and in the general area, and decreased their raw diesel consumption by 25%.

Now, investments in fan guns does offset this, as ski areas themselves have said they would save money in air compressors alone. So over time much of the cost of the guns themselves directly reduces diesel consumption, lowing their overall energy costs.


Right. So they need to raise prices to pay for the energy saving systems. A fan gun ain't cheap. Big ones can run up to $50,000.00. You also need snow cats to drag them around.

You really think a major ski resort can operate for more than 15 minutes on recycled cooking oil?
 
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