Before anyone could talk up the coming season, self-described superstitious Mount Snow communications manager Dave Meeker laughed off the elephant in the room, the one thing that could make or break a season of snowboarding and skiing: the weather. “We all need to do our part to encourage the weather-makers to make up for the lack of headline-making snowstorms we had last year. I’m not a snowmaker, I don’t have a magic wand to make it snow, but there is one thing we can all do to help it snow, and call it silly if you want: snow dance.”
Meeker explained that a snow dance, much like a rain dance, is a special dance one can do on their own. One simply turns their pajamas inside-out, rips up paper, grabs some beads, and throws them in the air as they blast music and dance, then collects the beads and puts them under their pillow before they sleep. While Meeker says this will make it snow, operations manager Dave Moulton and his crew spent the summer ensuring the 253 snowmaking fan guns that work on 160 volts of power are up to speed. This includes maintaining miles of underground electric lines that, when providing their maximum amount of juice, provide the ability to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool in 47 minutes, turning 126 gallons of water into snow per minute.
Moulton says that while it sounds odd to some, summer is busy for him and his crew of eight, working on everything from roofs, to painting, to maintaining every chair on every lift. “It’s a matter of going through the entire resort, making sure we have the best product. We are ready.”
The resort is ready to roll, or slide if you will, creating new business partnerships with some of the biggest names in snowboarding, dining, and energy drinks. One new venture includes teaming up with Burton, the world’s largest snowboard company, for the Burton Learn to Ride Center for snowboarding and skiing. Mount Snow will feature Burton learn-to-ride snowboards in their rental fleet, as well as a small terrain park. Children as young as 3 can learn to snowboard with retractable leashes attached to an instructor’s board to guide them. Meeker says this will make the learning curve less steep for youngsters.
Last year’s addition to the mountain, the six-pack bubble chair, which replaced the summit local triple chair, has marketing and events director Matt Gebo particularly excited, The bubble chair is exactly what it sounds like, a fast lift that sits six and features a hood, or weather-proof bubble, that can be pulled over skiers. “It takes the weather out of the equation,” said Gebo. “You can sit comfortably and not be bombarded with snow or rain. It’s a creature comfort that no one else can offer. This is by far the most comfortable chair I’ve ever sat on.”
Mount Snow features new restaurants this year as well, including Go Fish, a sushi restaurant in the main base lodge, open on weekends and holidays and featuring fresh fish from coastal Massachusetts. Harriman’s farm-to-table menu is a new addition at the Grand Summit Hotel, consisting of a menu that evolves with the seasons, using as many fresh, local products as possible.
Gebo says a marketing strategy that attracts out-of-staters is important. While Mount Snow was ranked the number-one terrain park in the East by Onsnow.com, the resort slipped to second place in Transworld and Big Skier magazine, and Gebo said it takes aggressive work to get back on top. “We take that to heart. We want to be number one in the eyes of our skiers and snowboarders.”
Bringing in new customers is a big part of Gebo’s plan, targeting markets in multiple regions and online. “We all understand what Mount Snow is as a brand,” said Gebo. “ It’s not about what we as a resort think, but what our guests think, and how they view us. They view us as close, a big mountain experience without the long drive, where there are things for their entire family to do.”
Gebo also says changing a misconception about distance is key. “ In the Boston area, there is a perception that we’re four or five hours away. They think Vermont is the farthest place away on the planet. The reality is while they drive up to Maine to ski, it’s a further drive. The ease of getting here is what we’re talking about.”
Mount Snow has partnerships this year with Price Chopper, as well as Vermont, New York, and Connecticut’s 99 Restaurants, and sponsored the Boston Winter Film Festival.
Meeker announced the resort is bringing back Tough Mudder in August, one of their favorite and most popular events. While he would have preferred to hold it in May, Meeker is happy to see the event return. “Between us and Tough Mudder, it really came down to we really love having this event, and we really wanted it to come back, and it’s great news.”
Local forester and ski enthusiast John Redd gave his annual weather predictions, joking that after last year’s lack of snow, he’s surprised he was allowed to come back. According to Redd, Christmas will be white, January and February will have average snowfall, and while spring will show up a little early, it won’t come as quickly as last year. “I guarantee it will be better than last year,” summarized Redd to rousing approval.