More than two years ago we started working with the receiver to transition the resort to a new ownership group.
Last January we began working with Victor and his team. June 25th we took Baldy out of Bankruptcy. 150 days and 20 separate projects later came December 1st.
I remember saying to our staff around the 20th of November that we were either going to be goats or heroes depending upon whether it snows. We did all this work, were ready as could be, and now it was up to the gods.
We got to be heroes.
Thursday the 1st the lifts spun at 9 am to the cheering of guests lined up.
I have opened other ski resorts to the thinnest of snow in my past. This was not the case at Baldy on the 1st.
And then it kept snowing and then sunny, and then snowing again.
Local and Baldy veterans tell me that this is typical Baldy weather. I am not used to this bounty from Mother Nature.
I was skiing with the head of the patrol and mountain safety on Thursday and marvelling at the conditions. He said this is, in fact, poor conditions by Baldy standards. We decided I was going to get very spoiled working here.
Thursday I had one of the best ski days of my life. This is in comparison to running cat ski operation, managing a traditional ski resort, going helicopter and backcountry skiing. The pitch of the slopes, the snow quality, the tree spacing, all are as close to perfect as I have seen.
However, the real question was “would people come”?
Thursday we almost filled the parking lots. Saturday evening in our bar with the live music it felt like a ski bar; happy, loud people, having a good time.
And then Sunday happened. Baldy finally felt like a proper ski resort.
Guests streaming in, parking lots filling up, the services and amenities were comfortably busy. There was a buzz.
The First Chair festival was a success. We had four days of fun events for our guests and great media coverage.
But the real focus was the snow and the skiing. And… it worked. We now have a following. We did one-third as much business in the first four days of operations as the totals for the full season’s revenue the last few years Baldy ran.
So, what now?
The sales staff were telling all the guests that they could refund their lift tickets for a season pass. What an avalanche of business this caused. So many guests came back after their first day of skiing and riding and refunded their day pass and purchased their season pass.
We are open seven days a week for 137 days – until the end of Easter weekend, April 17th.
We are now redoing our budgets – we think we were way under with our projections.
*Sigh*, what a relief.
One last thing. There is no way one can succeed with a project like this without tremendous support from the staff, suppliers, media, consultants, contractors, local cabin owners and the investors. To them, I owe the highest of praises.