7Springs expansion plans?
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Sincraft
2 months ago
Member since 09/5/2011 🔗
256 posts

Hi there all, it's 'been' awhile since I was active on these forums.  I just inquired about a lost ski area I thought of and then I thought of old threads about 7springs expansion plans that have never come to fruition.

So I know there are some folks on here with inside info, maybe even some that work at 7Springs part time for the pass or even full time.

Has there every been a serious effort to expand beyond where they are today? In the past they talked about some slopes over the hill from lost girl, and possibly around pritts distillery road toward lake gosling.  I was actually driving up this road and thought man would this make a nice long ski run!  They could put the lift at the bottom up the mountain toward that snow making test area and allow people to meander over and then down the pritts area.  Id prefer they dont close the road but it would likely need to be so.  I use this road to sneak into 7springs but there is always fin and feather as well.  

What other ideas were they tossing around?  Anything serious and approved and potentially funded?

Laurel Highlands
2 months ago
Member since 10/29/2013 🔗
27 posts

While not 7Springs, at neighboring Hidden Valley Resort now owned by Seven Springs, there were plans for an expansion with trails leading from the North Summit down to RT31.   There is a posting of these plans, as well as an Upscale Base Village that is still posted here on DC Ski back in 2007 at https://www.dcski.com/articles/view_article.php?article_id=1039 

I remember reading about the 7 Springs plans, around the same time, and that would have been back under the Dupre ownership days, while the Hidden Valley plans were under Buncher ownership. I guess you could say rather than cutting new trails, under Nutting ownership they have greatly expanded the terrain by acquiring Hidden Valley and getting Laurel Mtn in operation.  

If the crowds are indication, Mr Nutting should now be doing quite well with his ski operations in the covid era, and real estate in the area has surged with a huge interest in remote working.  It is suddenly a very different situation than just a few years ago.  Have always thought that there is so much more potential for these resorts.  If Nutting wanted to sell,  would think now would be a great time do to so, especially with the acquisition activity of the large Western Resorts.  If not sell,  perhaps this year would be the time to double down and dust off some of these plans or partner with developers and take things to the next level?? Who knows.     

 

snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
2 months ago
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,359 posts
Seven Springs is interested in operating profits. Beancounter Mauch, the CEO, modus operandi is keep costs low and cash flow high. I once asked him if he planned to proceed with the slope expansion proposed by the Buncher Group soon after 7S purchased HV from the Bunchers. He gave me a one word answer....an incredulous "no".  They own approximately 600 acres of undeveloped land at HV. However, they have developed little of their land and 7S and HV since taking ownership. I think it is too risky for them and the Beancounter is not much of a strategic thinker. They're interested in operating profits. As long as we have the current ownership, I doubt you will ever see any slope expansion or even new lifts, unless one of the ancient lifts at 7S can no longer be repaired. The old double lift at HV was demolished after it became too expensive to fix and it was not replaced. I don't think the lift is missed, but it gave them an option in the event that the Sunrise and Sunset triples crapped out. I will say they do provide a good ski product. And business is booming this year. I was told today that they have already set an all time attendance record for HV and it's only February. I am sure they have similar results at Laurel Mtn.
HVdad
2 months ago
Member since 01/9/2018 🔗
50 posts
At the end of the day it's simply a business guys. Nobody is going to pay hundreds of dollars a day to run a lift, pay thousands of dollars a day to make an inch of snow, or tens of thousands of dollars per year to indemnify Shenderovich, Shenderovich & Fishman because little Tanner ran into a snow gun, just to keep a few dozen guys from DCSki happy. Expansion will only happen when there is a legitimate business need, i.e., demand. Not sure this year's demand will warrant much future expansion.
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Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
2 months ago
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,855 posts

That^^

Okay since this is all questions and hopeful speculation I seem to recall or I may have been dreaming but Seven Springs has or had plans to replace the 2 front side triples with a new lift but that really isn't expansion.

The real news is that Laurel will see major capital investment that will develop the skiers right side of the mountain with added terrain, 100% snowmaking . The Mellon Foundation also granted approval to develop the existing trails on skiers left down to Rolling Rock Creek that will boost Laurel's vertical to 1000 ft. New lifts will serve the added terrain Midway Cabin will be restored and a base lodge be built at the bottom of the new lift to accommodate all the new skiers.

No, wait a moment. That was a dream.

Leo
2 months ago
Member since 11/15/2005 🔗
278 posts

Whoah now...Thunder lift is sorely missed by the surprisingly large group of great skiers who cut their teeth at HV.  Back when Thunderbird was a legitimate (though short) bump run it was the gathering place to watch and enjoy people coming down as you waited for the by far quickest way to get back up and keep lapping Thunderbird.  I can remember being inspired by guys like Eric Cabe (who eventually became my boss there) and Bob Kuban and ultimately skiing with those guys.  And Thunder lift was where we spent lots of our time.  

So I might only be speaking for myself, but I miss that lift.  Come to think of it, I miss the old doubles that were there before the main quad.  I can't remember which was Blizzard and which was Lightning but the one that immediately went up and over the slopes was a great place for laughs because it was such a difficult lift for beginners to load.  A different era at HV, for sure.  

snowsmith wrote:

The old double lift at HV was demolished after it became too expensive to fix and it was not replaced. I don't think the lift is missed.
GGNagy
2 months ago
Member since 01/5/2006 🔗
450 posts

There used to be a sign about the "western expansion" off of Great Western Trail with the tantalizing view of the old White Mt ski area across the way. Is the sign even there any more? 

@Leo

      Thunder was a good lift when running. I never paid attention to the snowmaking/opening strategy at the time, but I suppose you could have gotten a small mix of terrain open quick off of that lift and the beginner rope tow. IIRC, lightning was the lift that sat on the lodge side of Imperial runout. What a fun launch! Wasn't the old Wagner bowl double at 7S like that as well?

As to the original question, I would expect expansion through acquisition before anything else. 

oddballstocks
2 months ago
Member since 02/11/2017 🔗
75 posts

I spoke to an employee about the Great Western expansion a few years ago.

The issue was that the new terrain was going to be in a different township that's a dry township.  The township had some stipulation that Seven Springs would have to ensure no alcohol from the main area was sold, consumed, transported in the expanded area.  Seven Springs lobbied for them to change the rules then just gave up.

I believe all of that terrain was cut at one point as well.

I've wondered if Laurel Mountain could clear a few new paths between Wildcat and Hegan's Cut.  Looking up from that runout it seems possible.  All it would take is some timbering and light grading off of Last Chance.  I believe it's skiable because there is a road skiers right on Hegan's Cut that has tracks as people hit up the glades in there.  

snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
2 months ago
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,359 posts


 You had me going for a minute.

Laurel Hill Crazie wrote:

The real news is that Laurel will see major capital investment that will develop the skiers right side of the mountain with added terrain, 100% snowmaking . The Mellon Foundation also granted approval to develop the existing trails on skiers left down to Rolling Rock Creek that will boost Laurel's vertical to 1000 ft. New lifts will serve the added terrain Midway Cabin will be restored and a base lodge be built at the bottom of the new lift to accommodate all the new skiers.

No, wait a moment. That was a dream.

GGNagy
2 months ago
Member since 01/5/2006 🔗
450 posts


 he had several of us going. Harrumph

snowsmith wrote:


 You had me going for a minute.

Laurel Hill Crazie wrote:

The real news is that Laurel will see major capital investment that will develop the skiers right side of the mountain with added terrain, 100% snowmaking . The Mellon Foundation also granted approval to develop the existing trails on skiers left down to Rolling Rock Creek that will boost Laurel's vertical to 1000 ft. New lifts will serve the added terrain Midway Cabin will be restored and a base lodge be built at the bottom of the new lift to accommodate all the new skiers.

No, wait a moment. That was a dream.

Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
2 months ago
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,855 posts


I guess I've ruined my reputation as a reliable source of Laurel info. We can dream though, right? Really given the pandemic and all the economic fallout I don't see expansion at Laurel anytime soon. I doubt the state has the money and I doubt that local demand would move private investment. The only thing I can see moving investment at any of the Seven Springs owned/operated resorts is competition from Timberline, Ikon, and Epic but as they say in the real estate biz, location, location, location. All the above mentioned resorts are about a 3 hours drive from 7 Springs' market and only Timberline or Snowshoe has better terrain and greater vertical. Oh yeah, Whitetail does too but, you know, crowds.

GGNagy wrote:


 he had several of us going. Harrumph

snowsmith wrote:


 You had me going for a minute.

Laurel Hill Crazie wrote:

The real news is that Laurel will see major capital investment that will develop the skiers right side of the mountain with added terrain, 100% snowmaking . The Mellon Foundation also granted approval to develop the existing trails on skiers left down to Rolling Rock Creek that will boost Laurel's vertical to 1000 ft. New lifts will serve the added terrain Midway Cabin will be restored and a base lodge be built at the bottom of the new lift to accommodate all the new skiers.

No, wait a moment. That was a dream.

Laurel Highlands
2 months ago
Member since 10/29/2013 🔗
27 posts

Agreed that do not see the bean counter mentality justifying additional trails based at any of the resorts based on the ski operations.  Increased terrain does not necessarily equal increased sales if visitors are willing to patiently wait in line for their current product.

However, you would think all those available acres of developable real estate would be on the radar of any good bean counter looking to monetize. While resort real estate was pretty much dormant for years, now that has suddenly changed so if not now, when?  While that may not necessarily equate to additional runs or lifts, at least it is a positive factor, while for the past 10 years it was not.

HVdad
2 months ago
Member since 01/9/2018 🔗
50 posts

Agree with Laurel Highlands. Real estate is booming (in relative terms) at 7 Springs and HV. While some see this as only a near-term, Covid-19 driven flash in the pan, one must wonder about the long-term implications related to people wanting to "decentralize" from the major cities given the global precedent set by our friends in Wuhan.

Sincraft
2 months ago (edited 2 months ago)
Member since 09/5/2011 🔗
256 posts

It's been awhile since I posted and let this topic cook.

I appreciate everyone's feedback.  Sorry to hear nothing sounds immediate in the future.  I venture I will be old/gone before they do much but am hopeful to see 7Springs take it to the next level.  I think there is an opportunity there that they aren't seeing, but as someone that drives, hikes, one wheels (google it) that entire area, I see opportunity.  

Ive watched businesses run for many many years, profitable for the most part, turn into something much bigger with the right commitment that seemed SO common sense after it was done.  Like why didnt the previous ownership/management do that aha moment.  We arent talking about reinventing what they do, just capitalizing on what they have.   

All I need to say is, look at their mini golf.  What are they doing with that?  If you have kids and have been in there, or have walked in there for nostalgia you will see a wasted opportunity.

Why arent they offering better spring stay/ski packages?  When the crowds dwindle , even with great base and forecasts weeks out that would suggest we will stay out of the glue stage of snow, they do nothing but scale back staff and services.  Ive been at 7Springs, during the week, early march, and looked up and down and saw no one else on gunnar but myself.   That's a sin.  

If all they are going to do is look at what is coming in and what is going out, without much of a plan AND STILL REMAIN profitable...that's a BIG sign they are missing out on some great opportunities.  Guest retention, bringing in people from further out and getting more people staying and skiing after peak season would be simple smooth brained things they could do at a minimum to start to realize more, and maybe they will see they can take it the next step with a hi speed on north face, a bigger hotel with more things to do (maybe a movie theater!), opening a bit more terrain with real estate THEY RENT , not sell.   I fore see them coming to that moment mentally and using the trailer park on triple creek road for example as a great place to build more townhouses they rent out, a little lodge at the bottom and some slopes in that area for a more laid back feel. 

oddballstocks
2 months ago
Member since 02/11/2017 🔗
75 posts

Sincraft...yes...yes...yes!

I think sometimes you need the right people.  I started and run my own company and there have been a few pivotal hires who saw what we had and said "you can next level this with XYZ" and then they came in and did it.  It's easy to be complacent, but a few people with vision and the ability to execute are worth gold.

Here's some daydreaming:
1) Expand at HV where they had planned pre-2008, build a beautiful "village" between the expansion and 31.  Make it extremely visible, hotel, shops, restaurants.  A place people want to stop and walk around even if they aren't skiing.  I'm thinking something similar to the Solitude village.
2) All inclusive packages like Peak n Peek.  For $100/person you can ski for two days and sleep a night in the hotel with some food credits, but it's only mid-week.
3) Expand the backside of Seven Springs, make the Gunnar top a mini village area.  There is a lot of undeveloped land back there for condos along new slopes.  Making it a thing will concentrate people in this area that can handle them vs swamping the rest of the mountain.
4) Spring & Summer concert series to fill the hotel
5) Dedicated shuttle between resorts daily. 
6) A real gym at the lodge.  Maybe it's improved, but I stayed there for a number of conferences and the "gym" was a few pathetic pieces of equipment hidden in a corner by the great room area.  Take out a wall, replace it with a window and put in real equipment.  Then people can work out and admire skiers or the beauty of the area.
7) Rebuild the Tahoe Lodge into a much bigger space with an area for relaxing and warming, a restaurant/cafe, better bathrooms.  The 1980s charm of the basement is nice, but something like John Paul Lodge at Snowbasin would be excellent.
8) Reconfigure the top of the Polar Bear lift so it isn't a traffic jam nightmare.

The difference between Snowshoe mid-week and Seven Springs mid-week is crazy.  Seven Springs is much closer to population areas, yet it's empty.  The marketing is lacking too.  Seven Springs keeps pumping out the "we have snow" advertisements.  Snowshoe is more "come adventure with us"  I think most people just expect a ski resort to have snow in the winter, so they should play up all of the activities.  My read is most (non-forum members) like to visit a resort, ski a few hours, relax, shop, have the resort experience and feel good about it.  Snowshoe has extras to keep people going and make it a destination, Nutting's properties are lacking in this regard.

We have friends in Pittsburgh who make destination trips to Camelback and Peak n Peek for a weekend to tube, hit the water park and spend money.  Why not Seven Springs?  It's 1/4 to 1/2 of the distance.  They view it as "a place people go to ski" vs a full on resort.

At the end of the day I'm just happy they're open.  Happy it's really close, and happy that LM opened again.  I guess if they have schleps like me paying to ski as-is then why upgrade anything?

Laurel Highlands
2 months ago
Member since 10/29/2013 🔗
27 posts

Oddballstocks can definitely see the potential that I see.  Certainly the accessibility to population centers, 15 min from the turnpike, and fronting a good road like route 31 are all factors that make it  attractive in terms of remote workers and retirees. 

Understand the past several years have been difficult for both real estate and the midatlantic ski business.  Perhaps their actions at 7S made sense for  the time; Focus on profitability and efficiencies, acquire (at good prices) neighboring resorts to build a critical mass as a destination, etc.

The world has changed pretty dramatically, so the question is what now?   Understand Nutting and Co do not appear to have a background in real estate development, and maybe just dont want to invest in that.  However if that is the case, would seem like they should be talking with companies who do strike up a deal with them.  Having more full residents, restaurants,  and businesses next to them could only help their core ski business.      

hockeydave
2 months ago
Member since 06/30/2004 🔗
772 posts

SinCraft, oddballstocks, and Laurel Highlands; COULD NOT AGREE MORE!!! 

However, all one has to do is to look at the owner and examine his other major investment. It is all about making money NOW and/or preventing losses NOW. Absolutely ZERO vision for the Pirates other than to break even or make a profit. I only wish there was relegation in MLB... it might chase Nutting from ownership.

Sadly and unfortunately, until ownership changes at the Laurel Highlands resorts(s), nothing will happen. Hope I'm wrong.


Laurel Highlands
2 months ago
Member since 10/29/2013 🔗
27 posts

Looks like Buncher is now looking to sell off the land they had acquired next to HV and at one point had plans for ambitious development.  See 833 acres for sale for $5.9M here if anyone is interested: zillow.com

Amazing to think that they pieced together this property, built miles of sewer lines along Rt31 to support, built a nice new firehouse for Bakersville to gain frontage to where the old one was, and then bought and renovated HV, and in the end this is where it has all lead up to.  Guess if they are not going to do anything with it that the upside is that whoever buys it will.  

snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
2 months ago
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,359 posts
The Jack Johnson Company of Park City, Utah did a resort master plan for this property. The resort community was to be called Paradise Valley and it included an 18 hole golf course, different types of housing and hotels and commercial development along Route 31. This pipe dream died with the Great Recession. If I remember correctly, Bunches paid less than $1.0 million for this property which at one time was a hunting preserve stocked with exotic animals and surrounded by an 8' fence.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
2 months ago
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,359 posts

Hidden Valley's owner has big plans | News | tribdem.com

The link above is to a Trib-Dem article about the Paradise Springs development.

wfyurasko - DCSki Supporter
2 months ago
Member since 07/27/2014 🔗
206 posts
Maybe there needs to be a companion to Lost Ski Areas here - unbuilt ski are expansions
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