Ragged Mountain begins expansion
DANBURY - Ragged Mountain Resort, having just had one of its best years in recent history, hopes to begin an expansion project this summer that has been in the works since the recession hit in 2008.
At that time, the Pacific Group, which bought the resort in 2007, intended to expand, but found the economy rough and investments tough, said Bob Ashton, president and general manager of the resort.
Investors were hard to find, and banks weren't lending much.
But times have changed, at least enough for Ragged officials to start their long-planned "five-to-10-year development plan," Ashton said.
Many of the plans made then, and some newer ones, will hopefully unfold in the next six to 18 months, if all goes well, he said.
Many of the plans involve building warm-weather attractions to add to the resort's present offerings, which include an 18-hole golf course.
"Ragged has been a little bit too much of a well-kept secret," he said. "We're looking at making it a 12-month business."
Improvements have been made in recent years. The resort has spent $2 million on snowmaking equipment in the past two years, replacing older equipment with 275 tower guns, which are more efficient and save the resort money because they start more quickly than the old ones.
Resort officials have also upgraded its water pumping system, among other improvements.
The resort plans to add another high-speed chairlift on Spear Mountain, which would complement its main "six-pack" lift, the only six-person chairlift in the state, he said.
Ragged, which is centered on Ragged Mountain and Spear Mountain, owns 2,100 acres and has already started cutting new trails on a third mountain, Pinnacle Peak, another peak on the property that had been thus far untapped for skiing. At least one new ski trail and lift system is planned there.
"We've got a lot of land for expansion; there's a lot more skiable terrain here," he said.
There's also a lot of real estate that the resort plans to convert to housing. The resort is looking at potentially having 900 village units in its long-range plan, and hopes to have a model home open in coming months.
The resort, which employs 170 people at peak operation in winter months, could bring jobs to the area with its plans.
"We hope to double or triple our staff when we develop these plans," he said.
For year-round activities, the resort is planning a new cross-country ski area, a mountain coaster ride that would bring families down the mountain, a tubing park, a ropes park and zip line parks.
"We just came off a great winter, and we're looking forward to a great spring and summer, and we are looking forward starting to develop more of what we offer in all of our seasons," said Stacy Lopes, marketing manager for the resort. "I see us as a great destination for growing families."