Summer 2004 In Review

Summer biking on Mount Washington, Vancouver Island, BC”It was our best summer ever.” So says just about everyone at Mount Washington Alpine Resort.

And that despite four weeks of bad weather in the height of the busy season. ”We’re up about 25 per cent on overall revenue for the summertime,” said Resort Management. Although they didn’t have exact visitor numbers, they said they came close to reaching their projections of 25,000 chairlift rides. “Visitors spend more money when they were here and did more things,”. Last summer the Resort offered “alpine action packs” combining chairlift rides with access to disc golf and mini-golf, which people took advantage of.

”Mountain biking was a huge success for us. We were more than double what we did last year,” they said, both in mountain bike passes and visitations. ”A big part of that was opening up the intermediate and novice terrain, which allowed us to open it up to families.”

This was the first time the Resort had both the Hawk and Eagle chairlifts running with specialized chairs for mountain bikes, which made the difference. In the past just the Eagle was open, and the terrain was mainly for expert riders. The Resort hosted two huge mountain bike events: the VPS event saw 600 Norco riders visit the new terrain over one July weekend. That set the tone for the rest of the year, which culminated with the B.C. Cup MTB finals. Over 400 riders came out for that event.” B.C. Cup (representatives) told us it was their best finals ever.” Mount Washington has been talking informally with Sun Peaks and Whistler/Blackcomb about developing a consortium to promote mountain biking as a destination sport in B.C.

This summer was also a big one for festivals and weddings at Mount Washington. For the first time, the beer, wine and chocolate festivals all sold out. “That just means we’re going to be sold out from now on.” The Resort intends to cap attendance at the festivals in order to ensure quality over quantity.

Every weekend, Raven Lodge had a wedding in it, and I believe next summer every weekend in July and August are already booked. People got married at the top of the mountain, and a new wooden deck lookout has been built at the summit that is perfect for ceremonies. Along with the increase in summer activity at the Resort, central reservations more than doubled room night bookings.

The only downside to the summer season was the rain, which started in mid-August-the busiest part of the season-and didn’t end until mid-September. “Our biggest challenge is the weather. When the weather turned in mid-August...it was really hard. We rely so heavily on weather, even more so in summertime. Who wants to take a scenic chairlift ride in the rain?”