If demand does not exceed operating costs, Winterplace will not open. Winterplace has enough snow to open on their original date (12/5), and was planning to open last week except that business dictated it would not be profitable to operate.
Just to let you know, Winterplace has tons of snow ont he mountain and should be 70-80% open this weekend.
They do offer a college discount - it has changed this season and on one of their "special discount" pages on the website they have the new rate [should be linked from the front page]. The discount takes roughly ~$9 off a lift ticket price (I have not purchased a ticket in 6 years, so you will have to forgive my memory. I also work primarily with large groups for whom the discount does not apply). But in any case, I just looked at it the other day so I know it is there and when their website comes back online (as of right now it is dead), I will post the link.
Additionally -- Winterplace did blow a ton of snow over the past 2 weeks. They have one of the most extensive snowmaking systems in the country and copious amounts of water. The per acre coverage of snowmaking at WP rivals that of nearly any resort in the US (sometimes the ratio is 2:1 guns/ acre).
WP did not open last weekend because the forecast was calling for rain [early/ mid week]. WP delayed grooming the mountain (groomed slopes melt faster in incliment weather) and hence did not open.
That is exactly why Bright is looking elsewhere. There are a lot of issues with Winterplace:
#1 -- Winterhaven condo's (adjacent to the eastern side of the mountain) are not owned by Winterplace. Add to the fact, that none of the housing development is either. So no real estate revenue.
#2 -- No lodging nearby -- there is an econo lodge at the bottom of the mountain (~2 miles from slopes), otherwise you must stay in Beckley or Princeton.
#3 -- Group demand is driven by the time at which the most people can come to the resort, generally it is busy from Dec 27th - Jan 4th.
With Christmas, many guests are with families so our larger groups (Scouts, Churches, etc.) find a hard time recruiting members to leave to come and visit.
Enter another issue - land. Winterplace is literally land locked, as myself and many other locals know the backside of the mountain (off of Plunge/ Compromise/ Ridge Runner) is absolutely amazing to ski. There have been rumors for years about a potential land grab to expand to the backside -- sadly the owners will not allow this sale to take place. Very sad .
Let there be no doubt that Bright is looking to develop Almost Heaven in such a way to compete directly with Snowshoe. He will be targeting destination skiers, land owners -- all of which he cannot target at WP. Infact, he might have the best business plan of all. Destination resort for families/ extended stay. Winterplace for groups/ day trips. Not too bad if you ask me.
WP's business does not stem from season pass sales OR local business. Roughly (literally) 87-90% of our annual skier visits are from large groups. WP caters to our group skiers. Next time you are at WP, take a look at the lift tickets, anything that says "GRP" was purchased under group sales.
WP operates completely differently from other resorts in the region; the business model is based on group sales numbers. Groups are basically "guaranteed" revenue, they have paid a percentage in advance (non-refundable) and will show up to ski. Day skiers are not the primary customer WP even attempts to cater to. And with season pass prices near $550, you should understand why (Shoe has a cheaper season pass). Anyone that holds a season pass understands that the USUAL winterplace season is Dec 20th-26th --> March 22nd. Infact, last season was the earliest opening in HISTORY @ Dec 8th.
COOL Deals for Colleges & Universities
Special Ski Program Announced For Students, Faculty and Staff
We are pleased to announce the establishment of a Special College Program. Students, Faculty and Staff wishing to take advantage of this special ski program must present their College/University ID Card when purchasing lift tickets or renting ski equipment.
Special Prices Are:
Weekdays (Monday through Friday, Non Holiday):
All Day- Open to 10pm
Lift Ticket $26.95
Rental Equipment* $23.95
Twilight- 3pm to 10pm
Lift Ticket $24.95
Rental Equipment* $20.95
Weekend and Holiday Periods:
All Day- Open to 10pm
Lift Ticket $45.95
Rental Equipment* $23.95
Night- 5pm to 10pm
Lift Ticket $28.95
Rental Equipment* $19.95
At the most you might wait for a lift for 5 minutes at the PEAK of the day... and even this is a stretch based on my experiment.
BTW -- I was out on the mountain Friday and conditions are excellent. Tons of secret powder stashes... great runs.
#1 -- Most patrollers are not anal enough to take your ticket. Yes, I have been threatened a million times for being in there, but the sad fact is that generally ski schoolers on snowboards will try to kick you out. [Which reminds me, we had one try to take our lift ticket for being in the park and we reminded him that #1 we were employees and #2 we were higher up in the org]. In any case, some people will try to kick you out -- but this is rare.
#2 -- Will WP have a terrain park is a better question. That early in the year... it is a 60/40 chance favoring no. If we get a lot of natural snow at the end of dec... then the odds of the TP being open are greater. But what features will there be? Probably nothing at all to even tell people @ the resort about. As we locals know, the best terrain (And features for air) are usually ON the mountain itself outside of the TP.
So... places to find air @ WP.
Nosedive --> Pluge crossover -- when nosedive and pluge are open, there is a blower that basically "splits" the trails out of the front face. Right before this blower, Winterplace has the usual "cliff" (the difference in the elevation on nosedive/ plunge). Nosedive is about 12ft lower than Plunge, so the locals usually build a jump that launches you onto plunge. Last year, a couple of my friends were jumping over guests heads (who volunteered) on this trail. Pretty fun.
Rendevous Too has a "wall" (You can see it from the mid mountain lift) -- fun place to get a nice little kick of air.
Also on rendevous too is an unnamed gap that we session every year (and also end up usually getting a marked lift ticket or getting it taken. Most of the patrollers know the locals and are more leniant, for guests... it just depends). In any case, from Rendevous too there is a small yellow rope that seperates the trail running parallel to it [Buttermilk]. In high snow times and generally mid season -- (but especially after high snow) -- you can jump right off R2, over the rope, onto buttermilk. If done right, approx. 20 - 30 feet of air time (and a fall of about 6-9ft total in the air). Really fun.
THERE IS GLADED SKIING @ WP. But you would ahve to find a VERY knowledgeable local to tell you exactly where entry points are. Near Woods Run, there are quite a few ways down from the top to the bottom. Also from Plunge --> Woods Run (through the woods that seperate) a local friend of mine cut trails about 3 years ago in the woods.
Nightmare (this is the trail that is under lifts 3 & 9). Yes, you will see tons of trails here. Yes, it is extremely fun to ski. Yes, you do lose your ticket .
What locals call "the chutes" -- off of all places Highland Run has a roped off area that has a 20-30 degree pitch down to last run. When there is heavy snow coverage, you can duck under the ropes and make some really nice turns down the side. Pretty fun.
That is all I will post right now... WP is a really fun place if you know what to look for (but as at any resort, always try to see what the locals are doing. They will be the ones not dressed in camo usually ;-p ).
This is easily found, in between Drop Off/ Snowbowl is a tree. This is the start of the peak, during snowstorms, the powder here is so ridiculously deep it is insane. EXTREMELY fun to ride when it is snowing (rode it the other day, as usual powder turns, so fun). It is a really nice addition to drop off/ snowbowl because so few guests like to ski it (remember, it sits basically in between the two trails and can be tricky in places).
Just had to throw that one out there .
Winterplace is 25/27 open (92%)... not bad eh?
Winterplace is without a doubt the worst excuse of a resort. The first of 5 times (last 3 I was obligated to go) to the resort I glanced and saw it from the interstate. I was surprised that I could see it from there or that a resort could be that close to a major road. Anyway, as we pulled up I saw a few slopes and figured there must be more to it. After we got geared up and hit the hill, I realized that there must be some mistake. Remember, I have skiied at most of what the southeast has to offer and really take them at face value and get the most out of what they have to offer. But this was laughable. I mean, seriously, there are bigger hills in Winston-Salem than this. Plus, it really works out to be almost 4-5 slopes since most are all on the same open ground. It is no where near being a mountain! This is like a sledding hill.....
Ok I thought, try to make the most of this chance to at least put the skiis on. What happens when you put anything next to an interstate? A rest stop, or a restaurant, or a gas station or even a hill for that matter with some snow.....the whole world comes to visit......now any other resort would be able to attempt to handle this volume of persons with some areas of high traffic and others with low traffic just due to their spacing from one another. However, Winterplace can not do this because the whole hill feeds into basically two areas. Needless to say, no since of being free of the world, to just get the sense of being outdoors or in nature...just another stop on the interstate.
Three of the 5 time i visited it rained. While it was snowing at other places like Snowshoe and Wintergreen, good old low elevation Winterplace was getting some nice rain. Not much else to say about that.
WPEmployee, I appreciate everything you have done to help us undertand the psychology of the ownership group..and that does make some sense. But i think you should stop there and quite being the apologist for this place. I can understand taking some pride in where you work and maybe where you live....but this place is as bad as it gets. I will take it one step further.
I have been to Cataloochee and Massanutten and even Saphire Valley in NC. These places are very small with very limited resources. But they each have some character. A sense of understanding about their place and culture. Winterplace has none of that. It is just this generic place with fumes coming off of the interstate along with the noise of tractor trailors going by combined with what seems to be a dying animal type mentality of the folks who work there. It is just that dread you can see on most of the faces of the employees who work there of the reality that with the next opening of the door is going to be yet another busload of folks who have just come to the realization as they were walking through the parking lot that the excitement that they had about skiing that day was lost when they took their first glance at the hill and realized, "this cannot possibly be all there is".
Our counrty is blessed with a great number of ski areas and hills and many of those are just little places with great charm or great people. Winterplace seems to attract the local Bluefield folks with no real interest in their hill just there to collect a check. I am sure WPemployee, that you can dispell that image that I have of the employee moral and image and that is fine....but I will never allow myself or anyone that I care about to make the mistake of traveling to that joke of an area ever again.
People there are alot of choices throughout the east and south, try them all for yourself. Even give Winterplace a try, for you too will realize that this place is not going to receive many return trips!
Yes there are crowd issues, this is a given. Winterplace lasted added lifts during the 96/97 expansion... it used to be worse (if you can imagine). But there are reasons why it gets so bad:
#1 -- Design: yes everything does feed into 2 areas, and lift capacity is not up to what the mountain requires at times.
#2 -- People skiing above their ability that can't ride the lift: WP lifts stop more than any resort I have been to in the United States (I have been to over 35 resorts). It is actually unreal and makes me want to just say "screw it" and leave on weekends it is so bad. I would say on average for every 11 chairs, the lift will stop ATLEAST 1 time. Who is at fault? One thing to consider:
There should be *NO GREEN RUNS* at the top of the mountain, this only begs beginnes to venture to the top where they don't belong. It also makes them fall down when they unload, and hence, slow down the entire lift operation.
Also -- Winterplace is mostly a BEGINNERS MOUNTAIN. There is more rental equipment on this mountain than ANYWHERE else. No one brings their own equipment, which speaks of the level of skiers we serve.
Would a high speed quad make things better? Absolutely. Try telling that to some at the resort they think you are nuts. The fixed grip quads are harder to load on and unload on than detachable (detachable slows down at the entry/ exit points to make getting off quite easy). I was talking to someone about this and they actually told me "no beginner could get on a detachable quad"... RIGHT....
The biggest issue: a complete refusal to accept trends in the industry. Just look around next time you are there... things are in the 80's baby, shaped skis are still "on the fringe"... eh... i need to shut up.
Bill Bright is at Winterplace on very busy weekends... if anyone is there for MLK -- he generally walks around in a WP "dream team" management jacket (that is what we call it, but it is a blue jacket with the Winterplace 'W' on the back). He is always flanked by Pfeiffer when he is at the resort. So in other words, if you are there for MLK -- find Bright and see what he has to say.
We are looking at years before Almost Heaven is a reality.
Ahh... yes... Pecker's Peak. That is indeed the BEST skiing on the mountain. Nobody knows about it really, other than the employee's. Very steep, almost always untracked, and usually just fun to get down. I learned about this one in about 5th grade on an elementary school ski trip... I was shown.
'Nightmare' was an awesome trail... and is awesomely close to the lift. If you catch any air at all, you're harpooned. If I get my hands on a decent scanner in the near future I will scan an old trail map with Nightmare still on it.
There's another place to catch air that you haven't mentioned. As you approach Snowbowl from the top of the mountain, head to the right side of the trail and get a good ollie before you drop in, you'll sail through the air. Sometimes there's a kicker built there.
Along the side of the main run from the mid-mountain lift down to the lodge there are all sorts of playspots. Ducking around the snowblowers in their respective 'ditches' and up on the snowy 'cliffs' lining the trail is a lot of fun.
There is some excellent short-lived tree skiing to be had just off of Panorama. Before you hit the corner, look for trails off into the woods, ski around in them then slide over the wall of snow down to the lift. Note: never leap off the lift servicing Panorama where you almost touch the ground and drop-in to the trail below the steep section because walking back up to the lodge w/o a ticket is no fun at all.
I'm shocked, I know about all of these 'secret' places at Winterplace... those that have been listed. Of course I know a few more that I'm not disclosing.