GM Blog: Fact or Fiction

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Today I will write about a subject that is often taboo in the ski industry. But in the spirit of keeping it real, I am willing to go there. This is the time of year when I get the same question repeatedly, “Kelly, when is the mountain closing?” I don’t have an absolute answer for this but I can give you some good indicators.

Fact or fiction? If Mount Snow stayed open later than any other ski area in VT, they would “own” all the late season business, which would be profitable. Fiction. As much as it sounds like a good plan, at the end of the season there is a much smaller pool of people who still ski/ride. And as much as we admire their dedication to the sport, the numbers are too small to pay the bills. I am sure our northern neighbors have better luck because their snow tends to stick around longer. Unfortunately, here at MS, it has never been a good recipe for positive cash flow.

On the other hand, you will see us continue to push for early openings.

This year we have several events that are helping to define our closing date. In April we have the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge finals the weekend of April 1 - 3 and we have the Glade-iator and Winter Brewers Fest on April 9. So it is safe to say that we plan to be open for these events.

Will we be open past the weekend of April 10th ? Probably not. I know, I can hear your groans and moans. This is purely a business decision which is very hard to make when your customer base is so passionate. Normally we try to hold out for Easter but with the late date of April 24th, it doesn’t make sense this year.

This year, the day we close, is also the trigger of a very important timeline.

Immediately, we will take all of the chairs off the Grand Summit Express and ship the chair heads to Leitner/Poma. The chair head is a 12” long piece that Poma will press into the new hanger and then they will ship it back to us, along with the new chairs. Next we will install the new chairs and load test before our July 4th opening of scenic chair rides. It is a very tight schedule that we hope we can achieve. Oh yeah – and it is important to me that we offer our staff a little time off before they embark on one of Mount Snow’s largest capital ventures in over a decade…the 6-pack bubble!

Can the plan outlined above change? Yup! It can change tomorrow or with a snow storm or a warm spell. It is good to have a plan but this time of year we try to keep an open mind and remember that Mother Nature is in charge.
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