Western Pennsylvania's ski resorts exulting in snow
February 3, 2013 10:00 AM
Andrew Bock is a snowboard instructor at Peek'n Peak Resort, 22 miles east of Erie in Findley Lake, N.Y. The Inn at The Peak, a Tudor-style structure built in 1964, has had a $2 million renovation under the ownership of Scott Enterprises.
By Lawrence Walsh Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The local and regional snowsports season got off to a roller-coaster start in early December, but the recent arrival of natural snow and ideal snowmaking temperatures have resort owners smiling.
"Snow is the golden egg," said Nick Scott, owner of Peek'n Peak, 22 miles east of Erie in Findley Lake, N.Y. "We've had 75 inches of snow so far, and we've used 45 million gallons of water to make snow. We'll continue to make snow to ensure a strong base."
The Peak, which has a 12- to 48-inch base, received 26 inches of snow in 72 hours last month, including 12 inches on Jan. 22. It was a powder day and winter wonderland at The Peak, and its guests were euphoric.
Scott Enterprises, a hospitality company and Erie developer, bought the 1,150-acre ski/snowboard and gold resort in 2011 and has invested $5 million in improvements, including a $2 million renovation of the Inn at The Peak, a Tudor-style structure built in 1964.
Mr. Scott, vice president of the company, said mountain business is up across the board so far this season.
The return of several days and nights of warm and wet weather early last week hasn't dampened his enthusiasm or that of other resort owners. Spells of mild weather occur every winter, and they respond by making snow at every opportunity.
Hidden Valley Mountain manager Jim Shultz said more than 68 million gallons of water generated approximately 4 feet of snow on 85 of the resort's 110 acres. Even after several warm-ups, the base depth ranges from 17 inches to 38 inches.
Resort spokeswoman Laura Argenbright said skier/snowboarder visits as of Jan. 27 were up 11 percent over the same time last season and nearly equal to snowy 2010-11. Snowtubing is up 17 percent over last year and 12 percent over 2010-11.
Ms. Argenbright said the resort's $99 Stay and Ski Free Package, introduced last season, increased its lodging occupancy by approximately 30 percent over 2010-11 and 13 percent over last season.
She said the resort continues to emphasize Learn-to-Ski/Snowboard packages and incentives to keep families coming.
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort also is having a good year. Matt Grobe, Nemacolin's recreation director, said skier and snowboarder visits are up compared with last year. "This season is very comparable to 2010-2011 in terms of lift ticket sales," he said.
Resort spokeswoman Zelma Kassimer said Nemacolin "had a great January -- up 8 percent -- and [we're] trending to be 19 percent over last year for February."
At Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia, skier/snowboarder visits are up 7 percent over last season, said Dave Dekema, marketing director. "Rentals and retail are up double-digit percentages vs. last season."
"Overall the bottom line is 5 percent ahead of snow-blessed 2010-2011," he said. "Bookings on the Snowshoe website are up over 115 percent as people are finding the best deals there and taking advantage of the new pre-purchase lift ticket sales online."