Mount Washington Experiences Huge Summer Growth!Mount Washington is coming off the best summer season it's ever enjoyed. And they have more than 20,000 reasons to celebrate. "We were really encouraged with the number of people this summer," Mount Washington Resort General Manager Peter Gibson said.
The resort had 20,000 visitors take a chairlift ride, which is how they officially gauge summer visits. However, more and more people are coming up the hill for other reasons - like hiking, walking or mountain biking, Gibson said.
"The (Paradise Meadows) trailhead was even full of cars from Monday to Friday," but there's no way of measuring this peripheral traffic, he said. Both Gibson and Resort Director of Public Relations Dave Hampshire attribute the summertime success to the new Inland Island Highway, which is now complete from Victoria to Campbell River.
"This is the first summer that the new highway has been open," Hampshire said.
"It's taken us some time," Gibson said. However, with the new highway, the paved Strathcona Parkway and good weather, the combination was ripe for success. "We're moving towards the four-season business and this summer was a really significant stepping stone towards that goal," Hampshire said. "We'll really be able to achieve that when we have a true hotel available on-mountain, as this is what the wholesalers need to sell the packages to travel agents and travel businesses.
"People have significant expectations when arriving at a resort and a full-service hotel is a very large factor in meeting those demands," he said. "Things like room service, a gym, business services and an infrastructure of customer service staff and 'back of house' individuals are part and parcel.
"Hampshire said resort staff anticipate a major hotel brand to be on-mountain in the next couple of years. "This would be an anchor for the new village that will see cobblestone streets, shopping, dining and a myriad of other businesses setting up shop to provide the full alpine village experience for our guests - both rubber-tire and destination market.
"The key now is to develop more of the overnight market, Gibson said. " That will happen as we start to develop more conferences, etc." With its ability to handle up to 500 conference attendees, the resort is now attracting companies from around the province that want to expand on the traditional seminar. These companies want to give their attendees both a taste of adventure and the satisfaction of learning in a unique environment.
Andrew Sheret Ltd. Plumbing Suppliers chose Mount Washington to celebrate its 110th anniversary conference. President Brian Finlay leads a progressive team of executives and was loathe to go with the obvious, he said.
Last summer 343 Andrew Sheret employees took over the mountain for a weekend. "From the arrival of the first bus on Friday evening to the last departure on Sunday, we had the full attention of the Mount Washington staff," Finlay said. "The Andrew Sheret staff and guests found the meals, hospitality and services for our 110th anniversary celebrations to be outstanding.
"While the Andrew Sheret group used the facilities in and around the Alpine Lodge for their conference, many groups ranging in size from 30 to 300 have chosen the sublime Raven Lodge Nordic Facility as the location for their conference and banquet, Hampshire said.
And despite the fact there is no hotel, there are 3,500 beds available on the mountain ranging from single dwellings to luxury condos - the majority being ski-in, ski-out in the winter.
In addition to a hotel, the Resort must also create more activities to draw people. Gibson said they had an event or festival happening just about every weekend, and also had horseback riding, ATVs and flyfishing. Mountain biking is the fastest-growing activity on the mountain, and the resort responded in the spring by increasing the number of bike trails. " We still have a ways to go in providing a solid mix of activities and amenities to the Resort's guests," Hampshire added. "Our next short-term goal is to implement another summer activity that has a broad-based appeal to a wide demographic.
"A golf course would be perfect but that's not within the scope of the Resort to build and operate," he said. However, plans for the new village have provisions for mini-golf and swimming pools. Summer tubing is a possibility, and the Resort is building relationships with eco-tourism operators to provide day trips for resort guests, Hampshire said.
"I think the big thing about summer on Mount Washington is that when people come and visit this region in the summertime, we're on the map now," Gibson said.