NH ski resorts tap 'lucrative summer market'
Karl Stone, spokesman for Ski NH, said in addition to new lifts and trails, resorts are improving snow-making and building more year-round attractions, such as ziplines.
“There is an effort to capture more of the lucrative summer market,” when twice as many people are here than in the three months of winter, Stone said.
Ski NH represents 33 alpine and cross-country resorts and more than 200 lodging and guest-service properties in New Hampshire. It has maintained about $2 million in skier visits for several decades and enjoys a healthy market share for New England resorts.
Sunapee recently installed a zipline as part of its Adventure Park.
“It has been extremely well-received this summer and has exceeded our expectations,” said Bruce S. McCloy, director of marketing and sales at Mount Sunapee Resort.
Among its other members, Cranmore Mountain Resort in North Conway is replacing its historic, red East Double Chair on the backside with a triple chairlift this summer.
The $1 million lift will increase uphill capacity and add 300 feet of vertical drop to the resort's southern slopes.
Cranmore's Soaring Eagle Zipline was installed this summer and will operate all winter, joining the snow tubing park, mountain coaster and giant swing as alternative activities for guests, said spokeswoman Kathy Bennett.
Sixty new snow guns have been added to the resort's arsenal, bringing the total to 300.
Stone said technology is rapidly evolving in snow-making and those who have the new guns can achieve a stronger market share.
It is all part of trying to compensate for Mother Nature's lack of cooperation, he said.
McCloy said at Mount Sunapee the goal is to have the spring/summer/fall season generate 20 percent of annual revenue.
“We wanted to create activities that provided challenge, excitement, learning and fun for the whole family, which complements what we provide in the winter months,” he said. “We also wanted to build activities that complement the natural environment and are what guests would expect to find in a state park. We did not want it to look like an amusement park.”
The park includes a treetop obstacle course, Segway excursions, disc golf, mini golf and hiking trails, in addition to the 21/2-hour guided Canopy Zip-Line Tour for $65 per person for ages 10 and up.
Bretton Woods has had ziplines run year-round and recently added to its terrain for snowboarders and skiers, with 30 acres of glades in an area that will now be serviced by a 2,000-foot Doppelmayr T-bar surface lift.
The glades — which typically do not have snowmaking — also are being expanded to include some steep drop-offs as well as more wide-open glades.
At the top of the Bretton Woods lift, a new 600-square-foot log cabin is being constructed. The cabin will feature an exterior stone fireplace as well as a porch for enjoying the sun on warmer days.
Stone said Black Mountain in Jackson is investing more than $500,000 in snowmaking improvements. Additionally, the new learning area will have a new dedicated surface lift. Improvements to the base lodge are under way as well.
Ragged Mountain in Danbury is putting in more than $1 million to upgrade snow-making, including 100 low-energy, high-efficiency tower snow guns. Half of those guns will be part of an automated snowmaking system on the Exhibition trail. This allows snowmakers to take advantage of shorter windows of snowmaking temperatures.
In Henniker, crews at Pat's Peak are completely renovating the arrival area; it features an air bag to learn new tricks while landing on the soft, inflated bag and a new novice trail is being added to the “backside” of the mountain, the first step in a long-term expansion plan.
Waterville Valley is extending its terrain for younger skiers and riders with an Adventure Trail, located off Valley Run, and snowmaking has been added to a cross-country ski loop in Town Square to ensure cross-country skiing terrain is available.
Cannon in Franconia Notch is spending $500,000 on snowmaking improvements this summer. A new Prinoth Bison X terrain park groomer has been purchased as well.
Granite Gorge in Keene has a new lodge. It has expanded the terrain park and made it run top to bottom on the Monadnock Trail with snow-making and lighting. The Bag Jump is being replaced by a bigger one.
Gunstock in Gilford has upgraded its snowmaking and improved the efficiency of its ticketing systems.
In Lyme at Dartmouth Skiway, grooming is the focus with a new Pisten Bully Winch Snowcat added to the grooming fleet to handle the steepest terrain. Other improvements include new snowmaking on the Post-Doc trail, along with a new snowmaking compressor.
In Manchester, McIntyre Ski Area will be adding an all-new terrain park for this winter.
Windblown XC in New Ipswich has added another 30 acres of glade skiing through selective cutting this summer.
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