Snowshoe & Bridge Updates
July 11, 2005
Here's a few updates:
1. I recently picked up my Snowshoe season pass for 05/06. The pass has a barcode on the front and a magnetic strip on the back. I was told the barcode is a new process they will be using to scan ticket holders at the lifts. The magentic strip allows money to be added to the card and it could then be used to pay expenses such as food, drinks, etc.
2. Where they had torn down the old building in the main area, they now have a concrete foundation in place and steel beams going up.
3. A chain link fence has been installed just right of Top of the World to build the next new lodging. It appears some heavy equipment has been used but a quick look didn't reveal anything else.
4. I was told the Widowmaker lift would be replaced and the new lift would go to the right of TOW and higher up the mountain, near the next new building complex they are putting in.
5. Appears McCauley bridges now have the main steel beams all the way across the river. Some rails now also appear to be finished on the other bridges. Any update bawalker?
How long before we're back out there on the slopes ......
How do you think SS admin will handle the 'charge it' aspect of the season pass? Did they ask you for a credit card number before you took possession of the pass? If not did they give any indication as to how the system would work? SS tried something like this a couple of years age with a 'mountain credit card' issued when you registered and picked up your lodging key. It was my understanding that it didn't work out too well because only a few restaurants and shops accepted it. In any case, it had disappeared by the following season.
Last post by bawalker indicated that it was a distinct possibility that C-H would be completed from Warrenville all the way to the western edge of Petersburg, so I guess they must be almost finished with the bridges then. [fingers crossed]
Anyone know anything about whether Seneca will be open for business 05/06? Will the condos there be rentals or are they totally private. I recall a friend of ours that used to work there talking about the 1 mil.+ 'vanity' condos on the top floor. He suggested they, and other high end units, might not be put in the rental pool. Although we make a point of staying at Rimfire, it would be nice to have another option with indoor parking.
BTW ... a recent Snowshoe email said they were opening up a disabled persons specific ski area at Silver Creek. Anyone know anything about that? ... like how much of the slopes this area will incompass? ... will it be disabled skiing only? ... will that force traffic farther north and increase the traffic on the blue/black runs?
SS has also put the magnetic strip on all Homeowner IDs. My guess is this will be accepted everywhere since it will be encoded with your MC/Visa info. Just another way to loose your credit card, but good if you have a child who needs something while you are not there as long as they are responsible.
Seneca will be open this season and will have rental units, but I do not know how many. They are also supposed to have Expeidtion Station opened by winter and while that seems aggressive there are penalties if they do not. These studio units are modular so it may go much easier than other buildings.
As far as Soaring Eagle Lodge beside TOW, I beleive they will be starting construction now/very soon. That portion of the mountain will be seeing both growth and improvements
Just purchased the season pass myself, thanks for the reminder. For non-homeowners the price just went to 500-something, but I was able to still get the cheaper price of 37o-something.
I asked about the questions posed in this thread. So far, the scan system will only work with Intrawest-owned entities, which means Red Fox, Foxfire etc., will be out. Bet they're working a deal right now....
Seneca is open and taking rentals
Summit is undergoing massive renovations, all condos will have new decks by summer's end.
The system will be like the ones in Europe and some of the ski areas such as Big Sky and Aspen, you go by the turnstyle and don't even have to have your ticket out, the system can scan the card from a normal distance. That's a wonderful step towards progress.
What alarms me about the system is its invasive nature. You're given a customer ID number that is matched against a credit card. Everything you do with that season pass goes into their computer. You can use it as a charge card, which means that in the central computer, your preferred credit card is matched against it. This means Snowshoe will know virtually everything about your likes, dislikes, when you go to dinner, what you eat, your wine preference and how many times a month you get a massage. I guess it is the price of progress???
I'm curious why they're scanning season passes? Out west i've had my lift ticket scanned, i suppose because you can buy an undated ticket many places and they need to know when they're used, not that anyone would attempt to use one twice
I don't specifically like the idea of handing a major credit card number over to Intrawest ... I can see where it could be mightly abused. For the last 3-4 years I have used a 1K limit, secured card for all internet and one off transactions. Using that will confuse Intrawest .. 90% of the charges are for books. The reason I wondered is that I used a another credit card to purchase the season passes. Do you think they will they use that card as the linked card? If so I will request them to change it.
Turnstile? What turnstiles? ... SS is not Squaw!
It's one gigantic ploy to keep us from just hiking the park.
But seriously, what is the point of having scannable tickets? SS is not going to accomplish anything that way because their slope access is too open. Resorts out west find the scannable tickets very handy because tickets only need to be checked at the lifts at the base of the mountain (or if you're at Whistler during the summer... at the bottom of ONE lift). Perhaps Snowshoe's going to put-in turnstyle access for pass holders and the like.
I'm guessing that in a few seasons Snowshoe's slope access will be controlled and you'll be granted entry only if you have a ticket... first it was the signs at all the access points telling you "Sking/riding without a ticket from hereon is trespassing and will be prosectued." what's next?
I didn't have time to get any real details on the credit card part so when they asked if I was interested in using that feature, I told them no and they said not a problem.
One thing scannable tickets can provide is data... Ski resorts can use this data to know how many runs customers are making, how long they're on the slopes, how they move across the mountain, etc. I don't know whether Snowshoe plans to perform that kind of data mining, but it's one of the benefits that scannable tickets can provide -- basically, a better understanding of how the customer utilizes a company's services.
Maybe this is a stupid question... but the scannable tickets (for passholders only...??) wouldn't that create a bottleneck at the lifts of getting on? I mean it's bad enough now but wouldn't this make it worse?
Doubtful. Lifts can only handle so many skiers an hour and when the lines are much beyond a minute or two, no one is moving fast enough to be slowed down by a scanning machine (if it slows folks down at all). If it's a handheld ticket scanner, it is sometimes easier for the attendants to read those types of tickets than try to identify them by eye. And, as Scott mentioned, lots of good data to mine for number junkies. If only they allowed us to have some access to the numbers...
Now I think a great idea would be an express line at Ballhooter. If you had a homeowners or season pass and maybe a premium lift ticket like PCR's Fast Tracks you would be able to skip the horrific mess which is Ballhooter on a weekend and go directly to the express lane. Access would be easily controlled thru the new swipe strip.
Ya listen'n Snowshoe?
They will be mining data. For example, they want to know how many people, experts vs. beginners, use the Cupp Run lift and when. This will provide support or not for new expert terrain. They want to understand the pattern of skiers who ski Silver Creek - to better utilize that asset. They want to know if expert skiers or more likely to rent snow mobiles. They want to know whether or not the wives are spending more time skiing or shopping, etc.
So this pass will have such information on it as:
The type of skier I am?
What else will be on it?
Number of Children?
SS doesn't need a high tech expensive system to tell them about what the customer wants. Every owners meeting for the last ten years has been telling them to expand the terrain. But they haven't listened yet! I doubt they will listen to this either...........
They will probably have the ability to collect information about guests at a number of points - ski rentals, reservations, on-line surveys, etc. They aleady are to a certain degree.
I think Snowshoe listens more than you think. The problem is that Intrawest has to approve everything. SS has to prove to Intrawest that the investments (new trails, new conference center, etc.) will pay off. New data will help them do that. Snowshoe probably says something like "we need a new blue over on Cupp" to attract more volume, utilize the under-utilized lift, and move traffic away from Ball Hooter". Intrawest then says "yeah but how do you know anyone will go over there, it's a big investment, and our indications are that your guests are all greenies".
So it's more than just "we need new trails". Snowshoe wants to fill the units - that's where thier money is made going foward. They understand that the trail system needs to support the full occupancy. But Intrawest is a smart investor and will hold onto thier capital as long as they can - until they see a sure thing.
Honestly - from a guest standpoint, sure new trails would nice, but the lines are not that bad - only before lunch and closing at Ball Hoooter. There are still plenty of times, especially during the week that lines are non-existent (not the mention Silvercreek). One way to handle lines on the weekends (100% occupancy in the village) is to keep jacking up weekend rates. Hey has anyone ever been to Kings Island (amusement park) on a weekend? You just don't there then if you don't want lines.
From a property owners standpoint - I worry about oversupply of units without corresponding infrastructure - but I'm not at panic level yet, and my revenues have gone up every year for 6 years straight. I am watching it closely.
From a business person perspective - I would hold onto my capital and keep my expenses down as long as can. As long as the guest ratings are still high (which they are) let it ride. Sure you need to be ahead of the curve somewhat - but Intrawest can move very quickly when they need to.
I can understand that Intrawest needs to wait in order to justify the investment on expanded slopes. But if we and a number of our friends are any indication, they might have just 'waited' themselves out of our business.
SS seems to be concentrating less on skiers' interests; it's barely sufficient for a 3 day weekend. For the 4-5 hours it takes to travel to SS, we can be in New E. or well on our way to points West. For the amount of money they charge for their condos and, going forward, the lift passes; we can ski at Okemo, Canyons, Alta, or Heavenly.
Don't get me wrong, we really enjoy Snowshoe and look forward to our trips there. But they have to offer something more than they have been. I was really excited when the notice went up a couple of weeks ago that SS was expanding and felt really deflated and disappointed when I found out the expansion was next season not this coming season.
Basically, for a small mountain like Snowshoe, I would think you would have to keep offering something better each season to get repeat business. Then again, maybe I don't understand the business model Intrawest is developing for Snowshoe. Maybe they don't want skiers? Maybe they want destination resort folks that will spend the bucks on pricey restaurant meals, snow mobile rides, high-end rentals and froufrou dinners at the 'Hut'?
I sure hope not.
Snowcone, agree wholeheartedly... Unfortunately SS is oriented in the Intrawest model that upscaling is more important than ski operations and that in itself the upscaling will bring added revenue. All you need to do is go to Stratton and see where SS is headed. Frou-frou is in, as well as the $75 a plate dinners at the Red Fox and the free-flowing Dom Perignon.
I like upscaling, Beluga, Dom Perignon and Chateau Laffite too... but I have to recognize they may have put the cart before the horse. I wish that instead of a new system for scanning season passes, they would have built three new runs this year.
DWW, no offense, but I would respectfully disagree with a couple of your points. First of all, the volume of skiier visit definitely justifies new trails NOW. Snowshoe is typically in the top 10% of most visited ski resorts, yet has 1/25 the terrain of a Vail, and 1/5 the acreage of Killington. If you have been to Snowshoe, God forbid, on a holiday weekend or a Saturday you might think otherwise. The lift lines are VERY long (10 plus minutes easy) and you can't concentrate on your skiing because of the number of people skiing within arms reach of you. Jacking up the weekend rates is a HORRIBLE idea. I have seen strings on this forum where people complain about how expensive Snowshoe is already!
With that said, you also made some great points. I own two condos up there, and I too worry about too many units being built up there. But that is an exact reason to build more slope improvements. I am fortunate in that the main reason I have one of my units is to go skiing, not for an investment. It's at Silver Creek and that's where I typically ski (you are right on about the small lines there!).
I agree what Snowcone and Lbotta said. Intrawest need to concentrate more on what Snowshoe was there for in the first place - great skiing!
As a couple of people have mentioned, SS is starting to lose some of its skiing faithful because of Intrawest's focus on the real estate development. I think Wisp will do fantastic with its new expansion, and will woo a lot of DC'ers and others away from Snowshoe (which could be good or bad )! I did not intend to offend anyone with my comments, especially DWW. Obviously from the postings we all have one thing in common - we are hopelessly addicted to the same thing together.
I agree with you. I've been sking at SS for over 20 years and the only major improvement to the skiing I've seen is the addition of Shay's and the two high speed Quads. SS needs to expand their terrain.
The lodging at SS is quite expensive and is the same price as the ski-in/out lodging at Okemo which offers a lot more terrain than SS. Okemo has great snow making and the drive from DC is only an additional 3-4 hours of interstate driving. SS vs Okemo Hmmmm.....
The only way I would be in favor of some type of Express Line at SS is if they put some type of special requirement or restrictions on who gets these special lift passes. To keep it simple, the two requirements would be an annual income of over $50K. The second requirement would be that you would have to have a small microchip implanted in your body so that they could track your skiing, shopping, and eatting habits. Isn't this a small price to pay for no lift lines?
How long till winter?????? I'm going F#%king nuts.
Tick - Points well taken. I have been there over Presidents Day. I actually had to stay at the Hermitage Inn once 40 minutes away because my unit at SS was booked (as was the whole resort). All I am saying is that it's crazy then, and I will avoid those weekends like the plague. On the other hand, as a homeowner, who likes rental revenues, jack up the rate those weekends, bring it on - supply and demand baby. Let me have my quiet, low cost, off-peak trips and give the holdidays to the masses. But that's just me. As a business decision, I wouldn't size the business for two weekends. Don't get me wrong - I would like more slopes as much as the next guy. But I don't want Intrawest pulling the plug on the whole thing because two weekends don't cover overhead for the whole year. Maybe we can name the new trail after the holiday weekend goers - call it the "High Jacker" or something.
Sorry DWW, but you will be in the minority with this group if you take Snowshoes side. There are too many people who are fed up with their empty promises and poor service. As a long time season ticket holder, I will tell you that I will not be back in 06.
I agree with Ullr; we bought seasons passes again this year but I think it will be our last. The deciding factor wasn't Snowshoe because we will be making only 2 trips to SS this season; we bought them because one of our trips this winter will be to Tahoe, and as a season pass holder or homeowner Intrawest gives discounts on most of their other resorts, such as Squaw.
From what Ibotta says I get the nasty feeling that Intrawest intends Snowshoe to be the "Stratton of the South". If that's so, what a shame. I know a lot of people who love to ski but simply don't have the bucks to do a lot of traveling. SS has been filling that bill admirably for some time but I think that time is passing. Every time the prices are raised, a few more people look at their budgets and decide they can't afford to continue. With each lost skier, the sport is that much poorer. Jacking up lift fees, lodging rates and the like may pad the bottom line for the moment but it's a no-win game in the end.
Info to come on Corridor H.
Yes I realize I am in the minority. I also tend to play devils advocate. I'll say one more unpopular thing and then go away. I understand the concerns about service. Personally I have had good service, but maybe I am just lucky. I want more trails - intermediate & expert. I don't want condo overbuilding. But unfortunately, the brutal fact for the region is that we can't have perfect service, no-wait trails holiday weekends, 100% snowmaking/long seasons, and no condo/village development - all together. If we want the trails and the service, and the long season - the condos and village are needed to pay for it. There is a lag time - but I still think it will come. Hopefully I am not just being naive. Time will tell. In the meantime, I'm steering clear of MLK and Presidents Day.
It is sad to see where folks are getting fed up with Snowshoe. It's really a great place. And DWW makes a great point in that I'd hate to see Intrawest pull the plug. I think I had heard that Snowshoe had gone bankrupt a few times in the past. If Intrawest walked away, do you guys think someone would step in buy the place?
I share in the extreme frustration with Snowshoe. In fact, I'm sure that their staff is sick and tired from hearing from me. I wish there was more folks like us could do, besides taking our business elsewhere.