Searchmont Resort moves to 5-day operation
Part of SSAI plan for long-term sustainability
After a good deal of analysis and an overwhelming positive response from Our Mountain Members and survey respondents, the Searchmont Ski Association Inc. (SSAI) Board of Directors has approved moving from a seven day weekly operation to five days. The new operating schedule will take effect for the 2008/09 season.
With the assistance of stakeholders and government partners, the SSAI successfully met its two primary objectives for the 07/08 season: improvement of the Resort’s capital infrastructure and completing a Resort purchase agreement with the previous owner. “Our focus must now turn to the long-term sustainability of the Resort”, states David Hornstein, SSAI media contact. “The Resort must always be mindful of the need for profitability while never losing focus on the importance of meeting the expectations of its snow sport client”.
“We need to reduce costs by operating more efficiently and increase revenue without raising the price of season or day passes dramatically”, says Dan Missere, Inside Operations Manager. “A 5-day operating schedule is one means to decrease costs while better tailoring Resort services to the usage patterns of the market.” Changes to the current schedule are summarized as:
• Closed Mondays and Tuesdays (excluding Christmas Break, Martin Luther King Jr.
Day, President’s Day/Family Day, and March Break)
• Open Double, Triple and Poma lifts at 9:30am daily
• Open Quad from 11am to 3:00pm daily as conditions permit
• Night skiing to end at 9pm
With the 5-day operating model, day ticket pricing will be consistent Wednesday to Sunday, four hour flex and half-day tickets will still be offered, and season pass prices will remain unchanged.
“I’m sure some Monday and Tuesday regulars won’t like the new schedule”, says Missere, “but hopefully they will appreciate the benefits”. All lifts will be in operation Wednesday to Sunday as snow conditions permit (traditionally the quad lift is shut down during weekdays). A shift in school group bookings will increase Snow School staff efficiencies. Eliminating slow operating days during the season allows the Resort staffing flexibility at the end of the season if conditions and demand warrant a delay in closing. The Resort will achieve an estimated cost savings in excess of $100,000 associated with almost 300 hours of lift operation (i.e. wages/overtime, electricity, fuel)
Mondays (excluding holidays) historically represent less than 3% of TOTAL season visitation (about 1200 people). On average, over half of Monday visitations are school groups, 25% are pass holders. Tuesdays (excluding holidays) represent around 4% of TOTAL season visitation (about 2000 people). On average, almost 70% of Tuesday visits are school groups, 25% are pass holders.
Challenges affecting operations moving forward include increases in electricity, fuel and propane; increase in minimum wage to $10 per hour; market and economy challenges; debt financing (from purchase agreement); and the financing of infrastructure projects (i.e. lift maintenance, snowmaking and groomer upgrades, roof rebuild).
Searchmont Resort has an estimated direct and indirect local economic impact of $15.3M; employs approximately 140 full and part-time employees; is one of the top winter tourist attractions in Northern Ontario; helps attract employers and professionals and their families to the area; focuses on better and healthier Ontarians; serves as a regional training centre for up and coming competitive alpine athletes; is located next to the TOPS trail; and continues to be supported by a partnership of the SSAI volunteer Board, the City of Sault Ste. Marie, CDC, EDC, Tourism SSM, Searchmont Ski Runners, Sault Ski Racers, Searchmont & Area Freestyle Alliance, chalet owners, Our Mountain Members, angel investors, Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, Fed Nor, and Alpine Ontario.http://www.searchmont.com/Page_News.aspx?news_id=39&events2Dir=Asc&events1Dir=Asc
If you have never skied or boarded there, I would recommend you check this place out if they are 100% open.