Passholder Appreciation

Monday, February 9, 2015

Thanks to all of our loyal, fun and fanatic passholders for a superb weekend.  In case you missed the Passholder Q&A, I took some notes and will provide you with a summary.  The senior team panel consisted of:

Erik Barnes:  Director of Resort Ops and Golf

Kelly Pawlak:  GM 

Jason Palmer:  Director of Food and Beverage

Dave Muenkel:  Director of IT

Dave Moulton:  Director of Mountain Ops

Hardy Merrill:  Mountain Manager

Dave Meeker:  Director of Marketing

Dick Deutsch:  Peak Resorts Principle and VP of Acquisitions

Dick started out the meeting talking about water, snowmaking water, that is.  He explained how Peak Resorts and previous owners of Mount Snow (dating back to the 80's) have invested a lot of time, planning and money to find a suitable solution for more snowmaking water.  

Peak Resorts purchased land south of Haystack, obtained permits and raised money to build West Lake, a 15-17 acre, 120 mgal pond, which will give Mount Snow 6 times the water we currently have access to.  

Over the last year, Dick and Laurie Newton have been traveling all over the world to raise money through the EB5 program.  

We will start clearing the land this month, begin construction of the lake this summer and it will be a 2 year building process.  When it is completed, we will no longer use Snow Lake or Mirror Lake as snowmaking water sources.

Water to fill the lake will come from the Cold Brook.

What this means to our skiers and riders is that Mount Snow will be able to pump more gallons per minute and it will be especially obvious early season (cold temps permitting) when we can increase our trail count faster.

The stages to building the lake are:  Clearing the land now, digging starts in June.  Building the lake is a 2 summer project.  We will also build an inflatable dam in the Cold Brook, underground pipe to connect to our Haystack piping, along Handle Rd.  You will see a pump house being built at the bottom of Grommet and you will see the Ski Baba lift replaced with a magic carpet.

Q:  What other plans do you have for Carinthia?  Ice skating?

A:  We will build a new ski lodge at Carinthia starting in the summer of 2016.  We are also starting the permitting process for some residential units that would be located at Carinthia.  These would be about 140-150 ski-in, ski-out units.  And yes, there are plans for a rink that would have another use in the summer.

Q:  After the 2 years of building West Lake will Mount Snow be 100% snowmaking?

A:  No.  When we complete West Lake we start working on expansion.

Q:  Is there any chance you will cut trails off the North Face, down towards Somerset Reservoir?

A:  Probably not.  The USFS agreement is pretty restrictive.  We have seen the Forest Service changing their thoughts on summer activities so something may change in the future.  In general, we are only looking at lands within our boundaries.

Q:  Are there any plans to upgrade the North Face lifts?

A:  Yes, but it will depend on capital and there are no imminent plans.

Q:  Any thoughts on making the North Face open to skiers only?

A:  Lots of laughs, no answer required.

Q:  Will you put a high speed lift on the Sunbrook side?

A:  Our plan is to add more snowmaking and upgrade the lift.  But before we do that, we will build West Lake.  Our goal is to improve that face of our mountain so our guests utilize it more.

Comment:  Keep Beartrap (and the lift) open all the time.

Q:  Some comments made about lift ticket pricing being like airline pricing and questions were asked about lift ticket deals - how do we get the best one?

A:  Our online "buy in advance and save" ticket pricing is structured much like the airlines.  The earlier you buy, the better the deal.  For instance, if you commit to buying tickets in September, you will get a substantial discount.  But if you wait until the week before, the discount will be minimal.

Group tickets are the next best deal - must have 15 people to make a group.

Lodging and skiing packages also have a built in discounted lift ticket.

For day trips, you should check the deal page - we feature deals monthly.  Deals like 2 for $49 on Friday the 13th to celebrate Valentine's Day.  

Q:  There were questions about Mount Snow's commitment to ski racing, including adults.

A:  Our goal is to give each youth competitor, in our programs, a home race.  Our challenge is trail homologation, which takes into consideration things like width, pitch, length and obstacles like lift towers.  We used to hold speed events on South Bowl but it is no longer homologated for an event like a Super G (think Sundance triple lift towers.)

As for adult racing, we told the crowd we would continue discussions to bring more adult racing options.

Q:  In the future could you widen a trail like Fallen Timbers and get it homologated?

A:  Yes, we could look at that to see if any North Face trails could be homologated.  

Q:  I tried to buy tickets on Cyber Monday and got shut out before I could get it entered.  Did you offer less tickets this year?  

A:  We are very sorry for the problems buying tickets on Cyber Monday.  We increased the amount of tickets substantially.  But it was a good deal and a large amount of people tried to take advantage of it.  In short, our storefront was not able to handle the people "in queue", so to speak.  If we cannot improve the technology for next year, we will not offer a deal like this.  We hope to get it figured out.

Q:  Have you thought of offering an express lift line for passholders?

Our Q back:  Would you be willing to pay more for a season pass like this?

A:  We received mixed responses but overall seemed like any upgrade fee should be minimal.  We let everyone know we would think about it.

Q:  Why do I pay more for my 9 yr old to purchase a season pass then an 18 yr old?  This question is in reference to our 1826/Double Down pass for 18-26 yr olds.

A:  A little history and then an answer.  For many years (20+) Mount Snow has been selling a discounted college pass.  It is an excellent product for us because we have a lot of colleges within a short drive and it is easy and affordable to market to this group through our rep program.  Our pass reports show that this group ski and ride midweek, a time that we have good slope capacity.

A few years ago, our competitors started offering a pass like the 1826 pass for college and recently graduated people.  For years we had experienced problems with college students who did not provide us with proof of full time college status.  Imagine the problems we had when hundreds of college students were standing in line at season pass during Christmas week and the Bursur's office is closed at their schools.  So we followed suit and dropped the "proof of college" status requirement.  

Simultaneously, Killington and Okemo joined up and rolled out the 4.0 College Pass last summer. As I mentioned, the college market is very important to the success of our season pass goals so we teamed up with Stratton and offered the Double Down Pass, to remain competitive.

So what does all of this have to do with the 9 yr old who pays more than an 18 yr old?  The Youth/Senior Noreaster price has been the same for the past four years.  The perception is that the Youth rate is increasing but that is not the case.  When we eliminated the proof of college ID and introduced the 1826 pass to anyone ages 18 - 26  years old all of a sudden there was a spotlight on this pass and a feeling of unfairness.  We get it - it does not seem right but college aged kids have been getting breaks at Mount Snow for over 20 years.

There were suggestions to lower the price on the Youth Pass or have a pricing plan that you pay based on your age.  We explained, like any business, we have season pass goals.  So if we reduce the Youth Pass by $300 each, we need to come up with a plan to make that up somewhere. Unfortunately, we cannot hope to make it up in quantity because we have not seen significant growth in season pass sales in the last several years.

Q:  Can you add an interactive trail map to your website.

A:  Yes, we would like one and we are working on it.

Q:  Can you publish live feeds of the temperature at the summit and base area?

A:  With our snowmaking control upgrades, we now have that data and that is something we are looking to have for you.  Probably by next ski season.

Q:  Are you done making snow for the season?

A:  A few comments and jokes about all of the natural snow fall went around the room.  For the most part we are done…thank you Mother Nature!  

 Comment:  We miss the veggie chili at Market Fresh.

Jason Palmer, our F&B Director told me that was an easy fix.  Look for it next weekend!

Lots of helpful comments:

We like Apres 4 Kids!  There were also kudos for the Snow Camp and Mountain Camp staff and Genie Bent in our lift department.

Suggestions:  Offer a loyalty rewards program for passholders and bring back the passholder party in the Grand Summit (apres ski) during Appreciation Wknd - this would enable all kids to participate in the passholder raffle.  An automatic raffle, when you buy your pass, was also suggested.

Would like a 5 yr old Development program or something so there is more continuity with the instructors.

Would like a Cub Camp with more ski time.

Would like the tree skiing off Ridge cleared out a little more.

Would like a trail cut from the top of Beartrap to Deer Run.  The more people we can keep off Long John, the better.

Please add Snow Camp season passes to the payment program.

More natural trails groomed midweek.  It was explained that if you look at acreage groomed for the last 4 yrs in January, we have groomed more acres this January than in the last 3 years.  That being said, it was noted that "mixing up" the groomed trails midweek would be well received.

I have not included every question and comment but the bulk of them.  Thanks for attending this weekend.  Here are some photos that I snapped at the Passholder hot dog roast.








Sorry, caught you with your mouths full!!  

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