By ROY WOOD
If raw enthusiasm and optimism are any sorts of guarantors for success, then Mount Baldy can’t miss.
Baldy Mountain Resort managing director Joey O’Brien brought his message of bright future for the recently moribund ski hill to Oliver council on Monday.
He said the hill will open December 1 and close on the Easter weekend in April.
Nearly 2,000 season passes have already been sold and he is aiming for 5,000 this season. And that will just be the beginning.
O’Brien foresees a day when Baldy will approach its permitted capacity of 13 lifts servicing more that 150 ski trails and accommodating upwards of 7,000 skiers per day.
There is potential for a tubing park and nearly 60 kilometres of cross-country and snow shoe trails.
O’Brien envisions significant on-hill accommodations, both owned and for rent, over the years. But for now the real estate focus is on sale of existing properties and building a 20-unit, 50-bedroom chalet on a foundation that was built ad abandoned in 2008.
On the ski hill, the day lodge, barbeque area and staff quarters have been given “lipstick and perfume” renovations to make them passable for the coming season. The double and quad chairs will continue to service the mountains ski terrain.
In the short-term future, the three-year strategy aims for:
- 5,000 season passes this year and 10,000 in 2018;
- A customer satisfaction rate of 80 per cent;
- A significant increase in converting beginner skiers into regulars;
- 400 people in once-a-week programs by the end of year two;
- A core customer base of 20,000 within three years supporting 100,000 guests per season; and
- 2,500 students in school ski programs.
Because of the quality of the snow, location and other advantages, O’Brien believes Baldy can compete for a bigger slice of the Okanagan Valley ski business.
According to his numbers, there were 1.5 million skier days in the valley last season. The target for Baldy is attract 106,000 skier visits in the 2018-2019 season, roughly the same as Apex’s total last season.