Saturday, December 17, 2011

Outlook on the Holiday Week

I can hear the noise………..sounds like the snow guns are blasting away.  The snowmakers got some time off this week and now it looks like some cold weather is on the way.  It is probably easier for me to list out what we are planning:
  • Snowmaking Friday night is going to concentrate on some resurfacing of existing terrain, and also head towards some new terrain. Depending on the temperatures, this may include Sunburst, Escape, Mountain Road, Coleman Brook, Rimrock, and the rest of Count Down, Sprint, Moments rest and perhaps others.  We will plan to run as many guns as we can and have water for.
  • Galaxy Bowl in the Clock Tower base will be worked on this weekend as well as widening the beginner areas in the base.
  • Jackson Gore continues to be a goal of ours for the middle of next week. We remain confident we can get there.
  • This weekend the plan is to have 5 lifts and 15 trails.
  • Looking out towards Christmas, the estimate for trails is that we anticipate expanding our terrain to between 25 – 30 trails for around Christmas and we are hopeful that this number increases up to 40 during Christmas week.  Obviously there is a lot that has to come together for this to happen, but we are optimistic.
  • Right now we have open 6.3 miles of terrain or 88 acres.
  • Many people are inquiring about the ski in/ski out trails. They are a priority for us and we understand their importance. We will be heading towards many of them as we can prior to Christmas.
  • The Sugar house lodge will be opening on Saturday with the cafeteria opening.  Smokey Joe’s and Carvers will be open during the mid-week.
  • Snowmaking will be on-going during the day and it is quite likely that there will be some skiing under the snow guns.

They say patience is a virtue and we all need that right now.  The good news is that the staff here at Okemo is optimistic about a great ski season and ready to provide the Okemo Difference for all our skiers and riders. There are still some “rooms at the Inn or condos”, but they are filling up quick.  Also, check out the new Sno-Cat excursions that are happening as well as 4 limited seating dates during the season for the Sno-Cat dinners.

Happy Holidays and see you on the slopes……….

Bruce Schmidt
Okemo GM

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Winter Shall Prevail - guaranteed!

Rumor #1. There will be no winter. FALSE: Winter will arrive at some point. Guaranteed. It is just a little late.

Rumor #2. Christmas is being moved to January 25th to account for Winter being late. FALSE.

So there you have it. Winter will arrive and so will Christmas, although Winter may be a little off schedule!!!

I gathered my team this morning. Using the combined wisdom of Ray (Snowmaking Manager), Barry (VP of Mountain Operations), Eb (Mountain Manager) and myself-- here is the very latest:

  • Jackson Gore will not open this weekend. The earliest prediction is middle of next week. Sunburst, Escape and Mountain Road all have a good start on them (with snow).  Snowmaking on Jackson Gore trails will commence tonight.

  • And when that cold air settles in… things will go very quickly.

  • Solitude lift and trails, including epic restaurant will not open this weekend. Earliest prediction is towards the end of next week.

  • The Sugar House will open this weekend.

  • The Superpipe will not be open for the Christmas Holidays.

  • We will get as many of the slope side lodging trails open as quickly as we can. We all understand and realize their importance, especially to those who have homes located in these areas.

  • The galaxy bowl will be worked on beginning Friday – guns are already locked and loaded in that area.

  • Wardance is important for racing and all of us would like to have them on their own trail. That will be one of our mid-mountain objectives beginning next week.

  • There is a desire to get one of the larger trails off of the summit open. It will most likely be Upper Chief.

  • It is highly unlikely that we will have the Nor’easter Terrain Park open. Our plan will be to have some features, rails and other items on different trails if the park is not open. There will be gated entrances to these areas.

  • Snowmaking will continue around the free learning carpets in both base areas as we head into the Christmas week.

The weather has surely been chasing us up to higher elevations for snowmaking. The bottom line is that we just make snow where it is the coldest… and we can achieve the best production. 

Christmas week is just 10 days away, and the excitement is building.  Despite the weather not being great, reports from our guests on the hill are very positive. Hope you have plans to join us!  (And if you don’t, lodging tells me there are still a few openings here and there, but not many.)

Bruce Schmidt

Vice-President & General Manager

Okemo Mountain Resort

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Snowmaking, Choices and Thanks

Cold weather returned last night. The snowguns were blasting on the upper mountain as well as some terrain on the lower mountain. Choices had to be made last night, so it was decided that we would concentrate on the upper terrain, Lower World Cup and a few guns in the base area to make sure that we kept the conditions on the existing terrain the best. We also wanted to be sure to be able to give some other skiing and riding options off of the summit. While it is not ideal to access the mountain off of the F-10 carpet and Sachem, at least we are not running shuttle buses.

We realize that Saturday was a busy day. There is so much pent up demand to get skiing. In hindsight, we should have made sure that the entire length of Upper World Cup was open and not sent skiers and riders over to Drop Off. There were a few things that forced this to happen, but we learned to do all we can to not have that happen again.

Okemo also was not giving any reduced rates for ski racing teams. It became evident that ski teams were purchasing full rate tickets in order to get on the slopes. I want to thank our ski patrol, safety ambassadors and other staff for working hard to stay on top of any issues and also thanks to our guests for their patience as Okemo adds more terrain and works hard to get the ski and ride season going.

Bruce Schmidt
General Manager