When my dad comes to Revelstoke for his annual ski trip, he comments how most of the money he spends is anywhere but Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Add up the cost of flights, transportation, a few meals out and accommodation, and lift tickets are only a small part of his overall trip costs. RMR is the reason he’s here, but they only get a fraction of his money.
I say this, because it strikes me that the resort is missing out. There’s all sorts of accommodation development happening around Revelstoke, from the Explorers Society in the McKinnon Block, to the many vacation rentals, to David Evans’ treehouse hotel.
Meanwhile, Northland Properties, which owns RMR, is standing pat. For whatever reason, they don’t see the demand to develop new accommodation on their land. It’s not for lack of ability — according to the province’s Resort Development Branch, they can build another 4,000 bed units at the resort before they need to build new infrastructure.
I asked Graham Rennie, the president of Northland Asset Management, which runs RMR, said there isn’t enough demand to build more hotels at the resort. He may be right. Northland has lots of experience in hotel development, mostly through the Sandman chain, so they’re not exactly amateurs in that field.
At the same time, the longer they hold off development, the more other people will move in. There’s other properties near the base of the resort and in the city core that can be developed, and likely will over time. If RMR doesn’t build, someone else will.
RMR’s advantage is they’re the only ones that can build ski-in, ski-out accommodation. Other resorts like Big White made that their bread & butter, but RMR is missing out on that market to. The void of on-mountain vacation rentals outside the luxury Sutton Place Hotel is being filled in town.
Northland deserves credit for keeping the lifts spinning when the original developers bailed. It strikes me that by not maximizing their assets at the resort, they’re letting other developers come in and soak up the market.