“It was a great summer,” said Tim Defert, Resort Director of Hospitality and Sales. “Everything was just a solid season. We had a lot of interest in the Zipline, of course. The weather didn’t cooperate, but we had a good season.” Events like Tapped and the Alpine Wine Festival were sold out, and cycling events at the Bike Park drew crowds.
A new Eatery in the Courtyard was a hit. “Our new Outdoor Kitchen and Patio was very well received by mountain bikers and tourists alike,” Defert said. The Patio featured a full restaurant in the front courtyard, with live music every weekend. It’s something the Resort will definitely continue in 2020, he added.
There were more groups than ever visiting the Resort last summer, from tourists to Corporate Groups and Weddings. “Groups were on the increase last year and are looking good for this year,” Defert added.
The opening of the first part of Eagle’s Path ZipTours generated a lot of interest, Defert expects more as the complete Trail will open in 2020.
A lot of the summer season was spent preparing for winter. Maintenance crews laid hundreds of feet of pipe underground for the new snowmaking system, which will see snowmaking from the Beginners’ Area and the Base of the Eagle Express Chairlift right up to the top of the Whiskey Jack Chairlift.
“This summer while we were enjoying a really good mountain biking season we were building new trails,” said Mark Fischer, Executive Vice-President of Pacific Group Resorts Inc., owners of Mount Washington. It’s part of a deliberate plan to expand the Bike Park and what it offers, says Bike Park Manager Mike Manara. “Summer for us was a very successful (season). We’re building and planning our trail expansion.”
New Trail Crew Supervisor Ben McInnes started in May and will continue with the work begun last year, Manara said. “It’s so important to have a skilled Trail Keeper; we have a bit of a niche here. We have a lot of machine built trail, which sets us apart from some other communities on the Island.” Manara said work on trail expansion began a year ago, and continued into the summer. “It was strategic in that we moved one of our beginner trails to a slightly lower elevation. That allowed us to get the Bike Park open earlier.” Snow can stay on the higher trails until mid-July, he explained. This summer the park opened in mid-June.
“Those were some really key points for summer. We had vintage B.C. coastal weather: it wasn’t smoky, it was definitely wet at times. As far as mountain bikers are concerned, they’ll ride in all weather.” Where the Bike Park showed the greatest growth in the summer was in its supporting departments like guided bike tours and lessons. That translated into increased rentals.
All the trail work meant the Bike Park was able to offer extended hours in the fall, and they tested staying open Fridays in September – “which, when the weather was good, gave us good numbers,” Manara said. There’s certainly a demand there for the shoulder season, he added.
The Bike Park Crews also worked on a new Skills Park that will be developed around the base of the Alpine Lodge. It will offer some features that beginners would typically see on the mountain bike trails, such as berms and corners, and a place to safely practice on these features.