interesting old article
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Roger Z
January 4, 2007
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Hey All-

I found this article this morning while looking for an old ski area that used to exist in the Ozarks of Missouri:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,841696,00.html

There were some real interesting tidbits about skiing and snowmaking. The first thing I noticed was that all four "local" ski hills listed for Washington DC no longer exist. The second thing was that they were talking about how Shawneeland (see Scott's lost ski areas here ) was able to stay open for almost 80 days despite having only half an inch of natural snow the previous season. So snowless winters certainly aren't unprecedented in the DC region.

An interesting "now for the rest of the story" tidbit. The ski area I was looking for was called Tantara Ski Area at Lake of the Ozarks (the lake that has the infamous "Party Cove"). It is now a full-scale summer resort with no skiing at all. It's website is here. Given other natural amenities, then, it's entirely possible that a resort in the Mid-Atlantic might decide winter just isn't worth it and fold it's operations to orient toward other seasons. It's not without precedent. There are one or two places out in Western Virginia that are virtually bedroom communities for DC that got their start as ski hills. It might get noticed a lot more if a place like Wintergreen decided to follow suit, no?
dmh
January 4, 2007
Member since 12/11/2003 🔗
127 posts
I think we on this site tend to be a bit myopic--we see all these resorts primarily as ski destinations. That is probably true of Snowshoe and may well be true of the Pennsylvania resorts and the Snowtime places.

But for many people the presence of skiing is almost incidental. It is becoming increasingly true in Canaan Valley and I suspect also at places like Massanutten and Wintergreen. These places are becoming true four season resorts where biking, hiking, golf, sitting on the deck, and other non-winter activities are almost certainly as important as skiing. I own property at Black Bear and peak capacity is almost always in August and the Fall leaf season.

The smarter operator, even if they upgrade there skiing infrastructure, also understand diversifying into non-ski activities is probably necessary for long-term viability. Expect more focus on non-skiing activities and facilities, particularly if they see any long term climate trends that make winter more difficult.
DWW
January 4, 2007
Member since 03/11/2004 🔗
144 posts
It will be interesting to see how things shake out. Snowshoe does very well, regardless of snow, as long as it has "the most open in the region" as it does now. It's actually a contrarian bet against regional conditions (as far as business goes). If smaller resorts don't make it for whatever reason, SS will benefit - at least in the Winter. Summer business will be a different story. With other resorts closer to DC focusing more on non-Winter, SS could have a difficult time filling all those condos that are built to support capacity winter weekends. Personally, I love going up to the Shoe in the offseason when nobody is around.
KevR
January 4, 2007
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
If you combine the warmer sports together plus real-estate, perhaps there's a business model there.

Golf+Bike+Hike+Fish+Hunt?+Tennis+Boat?+Winery??+Spa???+????+REAL ESTATE=$$$

Except the drive-up day folks drop off, I mean I MIGHT drive up once in a while for golf which can net a nice return depending on green fees, but the rest ... I don't think are usually thought of as big spending areas for the day-tripper. (except maybe the winery/spa stuff which i just threw on as an afterthought)

Perhaps as the greater DC area becomes more congested and urbanized over the next 40 yrs on our march to 400 MILLION folks in the US... (yes, trends suggest 300 million to 400 million in JUST 40 yrs!)

We'll have to go to speciality places to just do those activities because all the local green space will be eaten up ...

But that's a big maybe.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
January 4, 2007
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,855 posts
Quote:

I think we on this site tend to be a bit myopic--we see all these resorts primarily as ski destinations. That is probably true of Snowshoe and may well be true of the Pennsylvania resorts and the Snowtime places.

But for many people the presence of skiing is almost incidental. It is becoming increasingly true in Canaan Valley and I suspect also at places like Massanutten and Wintergreen. These places are becoming true four season resorts where biking, hiking, golf, sitting on the deck, and other non-winter activities are almost certainly as important as skiing. I own property at Black Bear and peak capacity is almost always in August and the Fall leaf season.

The smarter operator, even if they upgrade there skiing infrastructure, also understand diversifying into non-ski activities is probably necessary for long-term viability. Expect more focus on non-skiing activities and facilities, particularly if they see any long term climate trends that make winter more difficult.




This is certainly true of Seven Springs. I'd be willing to bet that snow sports are a fraction of the total revenue generated at the resort. There are various festivals, concerts and golf packages available through the summer. A water park is planned and the recent failed attempt to get into gambling another example. Also the numerous businesses 'conventions' staged there. The fact the name is Seven Springs Mountain Resort not Seven Springs Winter Sports Resort says it all.
k_alice
January 4, 2007
Member since 11/22/2005 🔗
92 posts
Sure, the area resorts do try to make money off of non-winter activities, but snow-related activities really represent their main source of revenue. Wintergreen is great in the summer - golf, tennis, swimming, hiking, etc - but even on a peak weekend like July 4 it doesn't compare to winter weekends. Although they're trying to build other revenue sources, such as weddings and conferences, it's a mistake the downplay the importance of winter revenues.
Mountain Masher
January 4, 2007
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
I've been to Tantara ski area and resort on Lake of the Ozarks. It was many years ago (during the Summer) and I was visiting my relatives who live in Bolivar and Weaubleau, MO. My cousin took my father and I up to Lake of the Ozarks for a sight-seeing trip and he showed us the ski slopes at Tantara. Of course, the slopes weren't much, but, the other other facilities were quite impressive. I might add that there was also another Ozark ski area, Snow Bluff, which was located North of Springfield, MO (between Springfield and Bolivar). It had one chair lift and and at least one drag-lift. There wasn't a lot of vertical, but one slope was reasonably steep and they seemed to do a pretty good job of making snow. I think that Snow Bluff closed down about 8 years ago. There's now a go-cart track and putt-putt at the base of the hill.

Shawneeland, which was near Winchester, VA, was one of the best at snowmaking in the old days. My father used to run up there a lot since it was so close. My first day on skis (at age 3) was there.
Roger Z
January 4, 2007
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Funny you should mention Snowbluff. I heard about it for the first time just last weekend but was unable to locate it on Google Earth (which is a perennial problem with midwestern ski bumps. Even the ones that exist are virtually impossible to detect they're so small). A couple message boards made it sound like it was still open, but I guess based on what you said that it's not. Oh well, it's not like I was about to drive three hours south to ski a 175 foot vertical!

Anyway, yes, I think DMH you're right. Skiing is one activity offered and managers are increasingly looking at their facilities as something of a recreational subdivision, as opposed to being an operation centered around one or two sports. If skiing attracts people they'll keep it running, but the number of owners dedicated to the sport is in decline. If the climate stays as "irregular" as it has been over the last couple years, some places might just say "screw it we can golf instead" and shut it down. Hillsides make for very lovely and pricey real estate.

As an aside, one of my long term interests is to move back to southwest Virginia- not anytime soon but maybe in 10 or 15 years. It's not the skiing that attracts me there, and I've been asking myself lately "if snow virtually disappears from that area, would you still want to go back there?" The answer, I've been surprised to find, is an unequivocal "yes." The logical corrolary to this is "well, if I like skiing and I'm willing to move to a region without skiing, what about people who could care less about the sport?" I think people will continue to move to the mountains, even if snow skiing gets hit hard in the Mid Atlantic.
Mountain Masher
January 4, 2007
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
It's possible that Snowbluff is back in operation. My cousins, who live in the area, told me (a number of years ago) that Snowbluff had closed; however, it could have reopened. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that, if Snowbluff had reopened, one of my relatives would have told me. Anyway, I still have my Snowbuff pin.
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