Mount Washington Eyes Convention Market
“Mount Washington Alpine Resort is a gem when it comes to location for conferences, but the potential is untapped,” says Robyn Heron, Sales Manager at the Resort.
Heron joined the Resort team in October, and her newly created position signals a new direction for Mount Washington, says Tim Defert, Resort Director of Hospitality. The new ownership group, Pacific Group Resorts Inc. wants to develop Mount Washington into a four-season destination, and the conference and banquet business can help fill in the shoulder season gaps. “The owners are keen for us to do that, to build more events in the off-season,” Heron said. “To have activities up here and give people a reason to come up.”
Re-opening the Mountain Bike Park was a first step toward increasing summer activities; popular Festivals like Tapped and the Alpine Wine Festival bring people up the mountain, and the courtyard between the two lodges is an ideal location for a tent for music festivals. All these things combined will help Mount Washington build a reputation as more of a destination as time goes on, Heron said. “Our motto so far is anything’s possible.”
The Resort does a booming wedding business in the summer, its main venue being Raven Lodge on the edge of Strathcona Provincial Park. They are booked back to back to back during summer months, catering around 30 events a year, and have developed a couple of venues for hosting ceremonies outdoors with the sweeping vistas of Strathcona Park in the background.
Last year the Resort hosted 710 competitors with the MOMAR Cumberland Race, proving they have the facilities and infrastructure in place to handle large business, Defert said. “The groups we do get right now we do very well with. We have enough experienced people to pull off any large or small banquet, conference or trade show. “We’re going to be looking at all of our locations to keep improving our products and services,” Defert said. “This is just the very start.” The missing piece was having someone like Heron in place, dedicated to group sales, he added. “We’re anticipating large growth.”
Heron spent 13 years working in Banff before moving to North Vancouver, where she was living and working before coming to Mount Washington. Her forte is group sales in hotels. “There’s a lot of versatile, flexible meeting space people don’t realize,” says Heron of Mount Washington.
All the equipment in the rental area, for example, is on rollers and during the off-season can be moved out of the way. “That whole space downstairs for the rentals could be a huge space for a trade show,” she said. There are meeting rooms available on the Whiskey Jack floor, and even Raven Lodge can be used if available. “Groups can come for meetings then go for a hike, do some team building,” she said. “Our big selling feature up here is it’s so unique for the Island. It is alpine to ocean. Clients can take over the Resort in the summer if they want. You’re a mile high, you’ve got amazing views.”
The Resort is central to myriad recreational activities for the end of the workshop day, like golfing, kayaking, even surfing on the West Coast, Heron said. “There’s just so few locations you can do that, and it’s all right here. Our No. 1 thing is our location.”