Ski Resorts See Growth Potential in Summer Recreation

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(Host) Ski industry analysts point out that Vermont skier visits have increased slightly over the past few years. That’s good news for an industry that had been fairly flat. But many Vermont ski resorts see much bigger growth potential in summer.

As VPR’s Nina Keck reports, resorts are doing much more to boost their warm weather business.

(Keck) Officials at Bromley Mountain near Manchester have spent nearly a million dollars over the past several years on a new water slide, amusement rides and a children’s park complete with bumper boats, giant slide and climbing wall. Spokesman Peter Dee says summer business is up.

(Dee) “The summer piece of our operation is extremely important to all of Bromley. It kind of makes up for some of the down time in the winter and enables us financially to keep going really.”

(Keck) Dee says the resort sees anywhere from 50,000 to 70,000 visitors a summer. He says that’s about a third of the people Bromley sees during the ski season.

At Smuggler’s Notch resort, spokeswoman Barbara Thomke says the popularity of their family vacation packages often causes their village to be more full in the summer than during parts of the winter. She says Smuggler’s also continues to invest in improvements.

(Thomke) “We’ve got a new slide that we opened this summer, it’s called the Twister Slide and it’s about 300 feet long and it twists around and it shoots you out into a pool below, and it’s very fun.”

(Keck) Outside of Burlington at Bolton Valley Resort, owner Bob Fries is targeting groups. He says a new $40,000 adventure rope course, an 18-hole Frisbee golf course are already helping to lure more summer visitors.

(Fries) “Winter is still by far the biggest, but there’s not loads of growth potential in the winter. But in summer there’s a great opportunity with weddings and meeting groups and these adventure rope things. We’re really trying to use the 5,000-acre playground that we have here to our best advantage and let people enjoy it.”

(Keck) Vermont is still benefiting from the post 9-11 travel jitters that have made New England destinations more popular with east coast travelers. Vermont ski resort owners say making better use of their assets to take advantage of that increase year round just makes sense.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Nina Keck.

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