By Jesse Wood
Feb. 17, 2014. As if the stars are aligning, the winter resorts and complimentary businesses in the High Country reported yet another great holiday weekend this 2013-14 season.
“We’ve had four really good holiday events for the season,” Jeff Johnson of Edge of the World Snowboard Shop said. “Business was great … The timing was just right with the snow. People came into town early. It got busy Wednesday and it was busy straight through the weekend.”
As Jim Cottrell, president of French-Swiss Ski College said last month, business increases by about 25 percent during the four major winter holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Presidents’ Day.
Johnson mentioned that while the area could always use more natural snow, he praised the local resorts on taking advantage of the sustained cold weather and investing in snowmaking equipment to make high-quality snow.
“Hats off to the snowmakers and resorts for making it such a great season,” Johnson said, “as far as providing 100 percent, fully covered mountains, for people to come up and enjoy.”
Beech Mountain Resort, for one example, added 12 new SMI Super PoleCat snow guns to up its “arsenal to 40 super high-tech guns,” according to a prior press release, that helps cover the slopes in a thorough and efficient manner.
Talia Freeman, marketing director for Beech Mountain Resort, mentioned that the resort had another “record-breaking” weekend as far as tickets sold and number of visitors to the mountain. The new restaurant and brewery at the “5,506” saw a boost in sales, too.
“It’s been great. It’s been nonstop … We are happy and tired,” Freeman said, adding in a compliment to the N.C. Department of Transportation for keeping the roads drivable after the snowstorm in the middle of last week.
Another resort that has invested heavily in snowmaking equipment is Hawksnest Tubing and Ziplining Resort, which recently invested $200,000 for new snowmaking equipment, additional lighting and a new lane-groomer machine.
“It was a good, holiday weekend,” Lenny Cottom, owner of Hawksnest, said.
He mentioned that visitors withstood the cold and windy atmosphere of Saturday to have a fun time, which, of course, is “all part of the adventure.”
As others in the industry noted recently, Cottom said the entire winter has been “really good” with the sustained cold weather being the overriding theme as opposed to warm weather or constant rain during the winter months.
With February to come to a close in a couple weeks, winter resorts are coming into the homestretch, so to speak.
Beginning March 3, Sugar Mountain Resort turns into “March Madness” with 25 percent discounts on lift tickets, rental equipment and lessons for the remainder of the winter season – as well as other savings. See more information on Sugar’s March Madness here.
While Cottom acknowledged that the “last corner” of the season was near, he seemed optimistic that the winter season “could go way into March.”
“The way this winter’s been. There ain’t no telling,” Cottom said, vowing to “keep on going” as long as the weather is compatible for tubing, for having fun in the winter snow.