Portland, ME: Maine’s ski mountains are reeling in impressive visitor numbers from the 2003 holiday vacation period. And industry experts predict future growth for Maine’s ski mountains in 2004, marked by rapid mountainside real estate sales and an on-mountain retail boom.
“Most Maine ski mountains were able to open 50% or more of their terrain during the holiday season,” said Greg Sweetser, Executive Director of Ski Maine. “That’s an important statistic when skiers are looking at ski reports.”
The ski mountains got a pre-season boost of more than six feet of natural snow fall. Despite flooding rains for some areas, many ski mountains ended up with a net gain in snow coverage. At Sugarloaf USA, natural snowfall and snowmaking temperatures allowed the touring center to operate 70km of Nordic trails. Sunday River, in Bethel, opened its terrain park and half pipe for holiday visitors.
At Titcomb Mountain. in Farmington, a new handle tow for beginners brought a surge of younger skiers. “Our new handle tow was more successful than we could have hoped for,” said Megan Roberts, Titcomb Mountain General Manager. “Our mountain is anticipating an increase in our Learn to Ski/Snowboard Lessons as a result of this new lift.”
Retail sales at Mt. Abram in Greenwood surged this holiday season and ski and snowboard rentals increased significantly. “Early snowmaking and the natural snow were key elements to the ski area’s overall increase in holiday business this year,” reported Mt. Abram owner Josh Burns. The early snow also brought out buyers in search of future ski homes. Phase II of Mt. Abram’s ski in/ski out log home development pre-sold half of its lots during the holiday period. Phase I of the development sold out in December 2003.
Shawnee Peak in Bridgton reported that sales increased for their food & beverage department as well as in the ski & snowboard rental. Pre-season pass sales were also up compared to last year. Ed Rock, General Manager reported that “The sunny days and warm nights did bring skiers to the mountain, and with the return of excellent snowmaking temperatures, we will open the ‘East side’ this Saturday,” I am certainly please with the way the season has started.
Another mountain counting on future development, Saddleback in Rangeley. Under new ownership this season, the mountain recorded strong increases in all areas of operation. Expanded snowmaking & grooming pleased skiers and riders throughout the holiday.
Maine ski areas have welcomed the return of cold air to the region which has allowed resumption of snowmaking at every area across the state.
Ski Maine Association is the non-profit trade association representing eighteen ski areas in Maine from Fort Kent, to the Camden Hills, to the Western Mountains. Its office is located in Portland, Maine.