Summer 2007 In Review...
Summer was a time of highs and lows in 2007. “Summertime was good. It certainly wasn’t banner because of the weather,” said Karen Bonell, Resort Director of Marketing. “We barely got the outdoor patio set up because of the weather…it just wasn’t pleasant enough.” Chairlift rides were down last summer because of the inclement weather, she said. “People want nice weather when they take that activity. With our cool, rainy, downright cold summer we saw quite a downturn in people taking (the chairlift).”
Mountain bikers, however, didn’t seem to care about the weather: they came to the Resort in droves, Bonell said. Mountain bike business was up more than 25 per cent, and constant weather lows caused rain and cloud on a lot of weekends.
The fact that the Resort hosted several prestigious mountain bike events didn’t hurt, either. For the first time ever, Mount Washington hosted a national Canada Cup Race. More than 500 riders participated – these are the competitors who are selected to go to the worlds. The second annual Bearclaw Invitational was bigger and better than the previous year. Four thousand spectators came out for the only nice weekend in August, and some important big magazine media exposure showed up, too. “That event gives us all sorts of international media we could never get on our own,” she said.
For the first time in years there was no horseback riding at Mount Washington, as the contractor backed out at the last minute. However, “everything else worked out,” she said.
In fact, the Wine Festival had to be moved out of Raven Lodge this year to make way for more wedding dates. Both the Wine and Beer Festivals will be booked on Friday nights next year to make sure they can happen at Raven. “It’s a huge business to be in there because it fills up June, July, September and October,” Bonell said.
Outside the doors of Raven Lodge, the new trailhead into Paradise Meadows was a busy place. “There was a really good buzz over the new trail,” said Andrea Blaseckie, who managed the information hut for the summer. Blaseckie is an interpreter and director with the Strathcona Wilderness Institute. “The numbers were up significantly from last year,” she said. “It was over 1,000 more visitors to the hut.”
Blaseckie said a couple of visitors in electric wheelchairs tried the trail and “they loved it.” Other visitors who walked with canes or who were less mobile said how happy they were that they could access the sub-alpine.
The new trailhead is now graced with a carved stone sign. Other new features last summer included a kiosk with map of the Park and a small amphitheatre for education groups or for visitors to simply sit and enjoy the view.
Back at the Alpine Lodge, $800,000 worth of repair and maintenance was done through the summer and into the fall. “Keeping up with all the equipment and facilities is a huge expense,” Bonell said. “We do that from the day we close to the day we open. It’s on going. We have a 30-year-old plant here so we’re constantly keeping up.”
Some new features at the entrance to Paradise Meadows include signage and maps of the Meadows and Strathcona Park, as well as a small amphitheatre where visitors can sit and enjoy the view or take part in an educational talk by interpreters from the Strathcona Wilderness Institute.