Increased Snowmaking, Renovated Ice Rink and Paperless Ski Rentals on Tap This Winter
A summer of improvements sets the stage for an enhanced visitor experience this winter at Beech Mountain Resort, the highest ski resort in the eastern United States. Guests will encounter more snow on the slopes, better skating conditions and less time filling out paperwork and waiting for ski rentals. Addressing these three areas was an ambitious endeavor over the summer, but general manager Ryan Costin says everything came together as planned.
“I’m looking forward to this winter,” Costin says. “It will certainly be different in some aspects, but the product on the slopes will be the best we’ve ever been able to provide, and we have taken steps to improve the ice-skating experience and expedite wait times for lift tickets and equipment rentals.”
On the mountain, the second phase of a three-part snowmaking upgrade was finished. It involved the installation of a major new pump system at reservoirs off property, which allows the resort to now move 4,000 gallons of water per minute to the on-site holding pond and then onto the slopes. The water flow improvements were bolstered by a handful of new high-tech automated snow guns on the slopes. Beech Mountain Resort has now installed 75 high-tech guns in the last few years and those guns will produce significantly more snow due to the increased water supply.
“Over the last two years, I’d say we’ve increased our snowmaking capacity by at least 50 percent, if not more,” says Costin. “We’re pushing more water up the mountain, and doing it more efficiently.”
In the ski village at the base of the slopes, a long-standing building beside the ice rink has been removed. This allowed the resort to extend the snow tubing runs and add more space for tubers at the top of the runs. The building removal also allowed for the installation of a new 150-ton chiller to keep the ice rink in prime condition throughout the season.
The ice rink’s new subsurface replaces a system that dates to the resort’s earliest days in the late 1960s. The rink will now feature a better-quality surface and be able to stay open during adverse weather.
Also this winter, a new equipment rental system is in place that offers a paperless process for renting ski and snowboard equipment. Gone are those multi-copy carbon forms that skiers must fill out prior to the rental and remember to hang onto for returning equipment at day’s end.
“Everything will be entered and stored in a digital platform. You will be able to do that at home, on your phone or at one of the numerous kiosks at the resort,” Costin says. “If you have future visits, you can go online and put your name in and all the info from your previous trip will be saved. We will know what kind of skis you prefer, what kind of boots and all those types of things. When you get here, you won’t have to go through that process again. It should significantly expedite the whole process.”
This streamlined rental process works seamlessly with the resort’s existing online options for purchasing lift tickets and making lesson reservations.
“This way, trip planning is all available online,” Costin says. “When you’re here, we implement the process, making it easier and quicker than ever before.”
An inventory of higher-end ski and snowboard rentals will be available this winter in a new rental shop established at Ski Beech Sports in the village. This gives people more options for rental equipment and allows the resort to offer another point for rentals on busy days.
The end goal is to get skiers and snowboarders on the slopes in a quicker fashion, allowing them to enjoy enhanced conditions created by the upgraded snowmaking system.
“We’re hoping for good winter weather, but even if we don’t get a banner year, we now have a system in place that will help us supplement Mother Nature and maintain coverage on more trails than ever before,” Costin says.