Wednesday, May 15, 2013
The moose is back. Maybe it isn't the same "Murphy" moose who entertained us on the mountain last winter, but we definitely have a moose roaming on our Robert Trent Jones, Sr. golf course. On Tuesday afternoon, he was seen running across the seventh fairway and onto the ninth, then up to the first green. Wednesday morning just before 8 AM, he was spotted again near the third green. Murphy was a good omen for the spectacular winter we had, so hopefully this new sighting is a sign that we will have a great summer, too.
Our ski and ride season finally came to an end on Saturday, May 4th. Approximately 1,000 skiers and riders enjoyed some final runs down Stein's that day. We also raised nearly $1,000 for the Vermont Land Trust, adding to our contribution of $10,000 to save the Bragg Farm in perpetuity for agricultural purposes. I had hoped the trails would last through Sunday, but our mountain team did not feel we could make it past Saturday. In my absence, they made the call early Saturday morning. With unseasonably warm and sunny weather midweek, they had to work hard to get everything in shape. I am sorry to have missed that final day, but after scanning 130 days I really can't complain.
I want to thank everyone who purchased a season pass for 2013/14. It is comforting to see so many veterans committing early to another season here at Sugarbush, and it is great to welcome a number of new passholders as well. As you know, we did not increase prices over last year even though we are seeing increases in a number of expenses such as property taxes, health insurance, and electricity. Our successful season in 2012/13 allows us to hold pricing steady for next year.
At the National Ski Areas Association meeting that I attended recently, it was announced that skier visits throughout the United States were up 11% over a challenging last year, which is a great rebound. The Northeast did even better, with a 20% increase. While the Vermont Ski Areas Association does not announce its tally until the first week in June, I would expect that our state will be in line with the rest of the Northeast. Sugarbush kept pace, thanks to all of you. While we experienced fuller parking lots, busier lodges and longer lift lines than in past years, all Northeastern resorts experienced this, too, thanks to Mother Nature. And I firmly believe that Sugarbush handles busy days as well if not better than any other resort. Nevertheless, over the summer we plan to add additional parking and additional seating in our base lodges at both Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen in order to make your experience here even better. We have a long list of capital projects for the warmer months, including the purchase of two new groomers and a significant number of additional low-energy snowmaking towers, plus road repairs at Mt. Ellen and Lincoln Peak as well as new carpeting and flooring in some of our older base lodges.
Over the next few months, we will be busy preparing for next winter and, of course, enjoying all our summer activities. Our golf course is open and with warmer temperatures everything is getting into great shape. You might even see the moose if you come early in the morning or at dusk. The Mad Triathlon was held last week, with over a hundred teams participating. The first of many spring and summer weddings is scheduled this weekend. And our Brew Fest is just a month away. Tickets for the June 15 event are limited and now on sale at our eStore. Green Mountain Opera Festival returns on Tuesday, May 28. Don't miss the Opera Brunch in Timbers on Sunday, June 16. You can also experience their unique Emerging Artists performance, open to the public with free admission. Green Mountain Opera Festival is based in the Mad River Valley and is a wonderful opportunity to hear beautiful voices in an intimate and lovely setting.
Rice Brook is moving along rapidly. I was in the third building yesterday checking out the progress after having been away for a while. All three floors of the building have been framed and the views are spectacular. Only nine two- and three-bedroom condos remain, each with decks or patios that look toward the hills of East Warren or the slopes of Sugarbush or both. Our sales team is giving tours daily to anyone who is interested. If you would like a tour, please call them at (800) 806-1070, firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by The Farmhouse and visit them in person.
Thank you again for sharing with us a wonderful 164-day season with 279 inches of snow. Lili and I hope to see you soon.