(Host) Many areas in Vermont had record-setting snowfall this winter, and the state’s ski resorts welcomed it.
They had a steady stream of skiers and snowboarders who took advantage of the weather. But they didn’t end up breaking any records.
VPR’s Ross Sneyd reports.
(Sneyd) If you’re a skier or snowboarder, this past winter was hard to beat.
(Riehle) “We just had a super year.”
(Sneyd) Parker Riehle is president of the Vermont Ski Areas Association.
He says ski areas benefited from the piles of snow, the strength of the Canadian dollar – and the early start of the season.
Even with those favorable conditions, resorts attracted only about an average number of customers.
The industry is still tallying attendance figures and lift ticket sales. But Riehle thinks the total number of skier visits will be in the neighborhood of four-point-one-million. That’s about the ten-year average for Vermont ski areas.
Riehle says the industry would love to do even better. But he also says resort operators are happy to be holding their own.
(Riehle) “There’s always the challenge of competing with other distractions and opportunities for families who are making their vacation decisions.”
(Sneyd) Vermont resorts are trying to compete by building more amenities on the mountain, from condos to luxury hotels.
Okemo Mountain Resort says development has been one of the keys to its success. And this past winter was very successful. Okemo’s Bonnie MacPherson says 640,000 people hit the slopes in Ludlow, a record.
(MacPherson) “The expansions that we’ve done, the developments have really put us in the limelight, put us on the map and brought attention to the resort. So people maybe have heard about us more because of the things that we’ve been doing.”
(Sneyd) MacPherson says season passes helped drive Okemo’s business this past winter. So resort executives are already excited about prospects for next winter.
(MacPherson) “We’re already seeing an uptick in this year compared to last and last year was spectacular. We’re seeing an increase of about 8 percent right now in season pass sales for next winter and we’re seeing about a 16 percent increase in revenues with those passes.”
(Sneyd) Some of the boost in revenues comes from slightly higher prices. But MacPherson says many customers are choosing passes that allow them to ski more often.
For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd.