Revelstoke Mountain Resort is celebrating a banner season, with a double-digit increase in skier visits resulting in it’s best season ever.
“It was outstanding from a visitation standpoint,” said Peter Neilsen, the resort’s vice-president. “It’s the most visitors we’ve ever had over a winter season.”
The season wrapped up on the weekend with two days of sunshine, blue skies and lots of celebrating on the mountain that was capped by a packed show by the band Shred Kelly on Saturday afternoon and a snowball fight at the top of the Stoke on Sunday.
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The season started off strong for RMR, which had its biggest opening day in late-November. Nielsen said the momentum kept going throughout the year, with one of the biggest drivers being destination visitors. “We saw a marked increase in people who have to get on planes to get to Revelstoke,” he said. “That drove midweek visitors.
“That real shift in demographics has had not only an impact on us, but all the businesses in Revelstoke.”
The new terrain park is considered a success. “We feel really happy with how it turned out,” said Nielsen.
Snowfall was much improved over last year. The resort topped 10 metres of snowfall last week, finishing the season with 1,027 centimetres of white stuff recorded — more than a metre better than last year. As well, there were fewer of the high-elevation rain events that played havoc with conditions the previous year.
It wasn’t only the resort that saw lots of action. Over at Boulder Mountain and Frisby Ridge, the snowmobile trails were reportedly packed, though we were unable to obtain exact numbers from the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club.
Judy Goodman, the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said the visitor centre saw fewer Albertans, but more Americans and Europeans this winter. She said accommodation in town was booked up for almost the entire month of February.
“Everyone you talk to about the actual ski season says it was fantastic,” she said. “I felt when I was walking through downtown, and particularly in the evenings, there seemed to more people, more of a vibe and more visitors walking around.”
Anecdotally, she said the only feedback they got on the snowmobiling was that the trails were too busy this winter. The snowmobile club has applied for tenure to groom more trails in the future.
A view to summer
With the ski hill closed, RMR is now shifting its focus to summer. The biggest development is the opening of the mountain coaster, which has already become a viral sensation online. As of Monday at noon, the video previewing the Pipe, as it’s called, had received more than 1.4 million views and been shared more than 42,000 times on Facebook. The YouTube video had an additional 152,000 views. The video was picked up by dozens of major news and travel sites, including Global, Huffington Post, and Lonely Planet.
“One of the stats that is most surprising is that in the last three days we have sold more Mountain Coaster tickets online than ski lift tickets,” wrote Nico Leenders, the resort’s marketing manager, in an e-mail on Friday.
The coaster is the first of its kind in North America and is scheduled to open on Saturday, May 21.
Other than that, Nielsen said plans to open the gondola to the top have been pushed back to 2017. “We’re spending this summer doing trail building — developing the infrastructure for sightseeing and biking,” he said.
As for plans for next winter, Nielsen said they will be spending the next few months looking at possibilities. Next season marks the 10th year of operations for the resort and there have been widespread rumours of a boundary expansion into the cat ski terrain to mark the occasion.
Nielsen would not confirm that is happening. “There’s potential for all these things,” he said. “Our decision making process for this is over the next two months.”
He said they would looking at doing more run-shaping to improve the grooming program and are developing a comprehensive event schedule for next winter.