Pocohontas Times, the local paper, carried this news (link at http://www.pocahontastimes.com/localnew.html
) You have to scroll to the 4th or 5th story....
Last time I went up there (two weekends ago) the news was the talk of the county. My take is that some, if not most of the attrition was corporate in nature, outside the authority of the present management. For example, the retail buyer, who had been there almost since the resort opened, was let go as Intrawest is consolidating their buying in Vermont. I have mixed feelings as FINALLY they had got it right and their clothing selection for this year almost approximates the upscale nature of their clientele. They finaly had dumped Columbia and started carrying the latest Spyder and Obermier.
Hard to see good people go. But still, Snowshoe has a way to go in customer support. The Snowshoe-owned retail and restaurants STILL are way below service and customer satisfaction compared with the non-Intrawest. The only really good breakfast on the mountain is still six miles away at the base. There is no brunch on Sunday. If you want to get eggs and ham after 1100 on Sunday you have to make a scene and call the manager.
I am hopeful that Snowshoe will get its act together finally under Mr. Rock. It is an awesome mountain. But it is in a period of transition. We'll see how they play the game of risk.
Resort attempts to cut costs ahead of season
Snowshoe Mountain Resort announced the layoff of seven management-level employees October 16, little more than a month before skiers are due to hit the slopes.
The announcement came one day before stockholders of Canadian parent company Intrawest voted to approve a $2.76 billion buyout by U.S. private equity fund Fortress Investment Group.
That sale was not a direct cause of the cost-cutting measures, said Snowshoe General Manager Bill Rock, but it did prompt Intrawest executives to take a hard look how the company does business.
"A question we get a lot is 'did Fortress make you do this?' And they didn't," said Rock. "They don't own us right now, but as they looked at our business and as we went through the due diligence process with all the various suitors of the company, we found that we didn't stack up as well as we could, necessarily, from a cost-side perspective."
Those who were laid off were offered competitive severance packages given the option of coming back to the company in other roles, said the general manager.
Rock, who is starting his second season at Snowshoe, said that despite the corporate mandate from Intrawest to cut costs due to forecasts of a down season and a slow summer at Snowshoe Mountain, the resort is preparing for a strong winter.
"There's no hiring freeze; it's not like we're scaling down for the season," said Rock. "Actually, we're scaling up for the season."
Currently, Snowshoe Mountain employs approximately 380 people, according to Andrea Smith, the resort's communication's coordinator. As the season peaks, Smith said, the resort's payroll will swell to 1,200 employees.
Despite the layoffs and cost-cutting measures, the resort also announced that many employees would get raises in the near future.
"Over a three-year period most people are going to get about a 75-cent-per-hour raise," Rock said. "Some people will get 50 cents this year. It's basically a recognition that we need to offer a competitive wage."
"One thing we've recognized for some time is that our compensation plan needed to be changed," Rock added. "We had planned for it, we budgeted for it, and we expected that we would implement it this week.
While Intrawest has said that advance bookings for lodging and season ski passes are down company wide, Snowshoe's own numbers appears to be up.
"For us, our winter actually looks pretty encouraging right now," Rock said.
If those numbers hold up, it may end a slump that, according to Rock, has seen the resort miss its targets for the last three or four years.
Last year, the resort logged just under 500,000 skier visits. On its busiest days, as many as 9,000 to 10,000 people converge on the resort, effectively doubling the population of Pocahontas County.
The resort plans to open for its 2006-2007 winter season November 22.