Mountain Centre Proves Popular
Fifteen groups used the facility in a variety of ways during the summer, VIMC Manager Andrew Scherck said.
They opened a snack/ coffee bar to the public, and had about 60 visitors per day come into the Centre for a variety of reasons, from a cup of coffee or ice cream treat to general curiosity. The Centre was open from Wednesday through Sunday for the duration of the summer.
During the VIMC’s first full year the Centre had 45 overnight groups and 12 day groups use the facility, equating to 1,600 people. "We can do better, and we are," Scherck said.
"We currently have 28 groups booked for this upcoming winter and still space to fill. Considering we had very little marketing and build-up last year, we have high expectations for this upcoming year."
Some of the summer highlights included a large family retreat that stayed for three nights and decorated the dining room in an ‘80s theme for an old-fashioned dance party; a group of kids and instructors from the Canadian Junior Rangers that visited from Port Hardy and Tahsis; and the three Comox Valley-based programs that the VIMC ran for seniors, grandchildren and youth.
This winter VIMC will run two of its popular programs again, Team Building on Snowshoes and Introduction to Winter Skills. They also received a grant from ViaSport to pilot a new "Discover Biathlon" program in partnership with the VI Biathlon Club.
"We are super excited about this program as we are combining snowshoeing - instead of skiing - with shooting," Scherck said.
"The reason for the change from skiing to snowshoeing is all about inclusiveness. It is much more complicated, and often more intimidating, to learn to ski for people new to the activity than to learn to snowshoe."
Scherck and other VIMC members spent their downtime between summer and winter seasons finishing five additional rooms on the first floor of the Mountain Centre. Three of the rooms comprise the manager’s suite, which Scherck will move into.
"Last winter I rented a chalet in the village so I walked, skied or snowshoed to the Centre every morning around 8 a.m., then stayed onsite until around 10 p.m.," he said.
"Having an onsite presence at the Centre was always the intention to help support guests with late-night questions or issues often related to our winter wonderland, such as power outages; but also just to be here if anything popped up."
One of the remaining rooms will be a multipurpose room slated for different uses. A yoga instructor will run her winter schedule out of the room, and it has been booked for various meetings already. The VIMC will bring in a ping-pong table and other "games room" type of amenities to give locals and visitors something else to do once the Resort lifts close for the night.
The final room is the same size as the massage therapies room off of the lobby but doesn’t have a clear designation. It could serve as a meeting room for athletes and coaches, video critiques or office space.
Scherck and the VIMC board will focus on its Mountain Fitness Centre this winter. "Our Mountain Fitness Centre saw just over 500 user visits this past year which, considering we did not open the Fitness Centre until the end of January, was OK," Scherck said. They saw a balance between locals, Resort staff and visiting groups use the facility.
"We definitely are gearing towards increasing these numbers significantly this upcoming year."
The VIMC has arranged specials for Mount Washington staff and Tourism Mount Washington members. Local mountain sports athletes and their coaches receive free access.
The Fitness Centre is also open to the general public; something that wasn’t well known last season. "Last year was a challenge because not all of the facility was complete, with many portions being completed the day before we opened our doors or in the middle of the ski season," Scherck said.
"We encourage anyone and everyone to ski or snowshoe on down and come on in for a visit or tour."
For an online tour, visit the website at www.vimountaincentre.com.