Ski Resorts, and How They Operate

Ski Resorts, and How They Operate

Ever wondered what it’s like to own a ski resort? Since I was a kid I was always interested in this topic. At my cabin during the winter months, I would always stay up late at night to watch snow groomers make the trails nice, or wake up early in the morning to watch the lifts spin round, and round. Now that I am older and have a better understanding of the world, and that I am considered a master level skier, I would like to revisit my old childhood memories and show what it’s like to own a ski resort.

First to own a resort you will need a large to medium sized mountain property, where it would snow and have cold temperatures during the winter months obviously. These properties are usually worth millions of dollars, though there is one solution. The easiest method of obtaining land is by leasing land from a national forest. Almost all resorts use national forest land to build their resort, which is cheap and simple to obtain. 

You would also want to make sure that the snow conditions are good, and that the average snowfall is good. Even if the area where the resort is located has less snow than a regular resort, you can use snow making. Artificial snow is the combination of water with air to make a mist that turns into snow as it is blown in the air by a water nozzle. The three main types of snow cannons are 1. A fan gun, 2. A tower gun, and 3. A portable gun. A fan gun is a type of snow gun that produces tiny droplets of water mixed with air to make a mist, then the fan in the back of the gun blows the snow in the direction the fan is pointing. A tower gun is a stationary gun that pumps water up a tower and into a nozzle which blows out an air and water mix. The tower gun is permanently installed and can be remotely controlled by a computer. 

Next up we have snow grooming. At ski resorts, snowcats are modified for snow moving and grooming. Typically, a ski-resort snowcat has what is called a pusher on the front that moves snow and a tiller on the back that first churns and then presses snow into corduroy. Some modern snowcats have winches, too. Winches are used to make snowcats able to groom steeper terrain on the mountain, without the snowcat being unstable on the run or piste. 

After the weather, snowmaking, and grooming, there are chairlifts. Each with a capacity per chair of two to eight people, move skiers and riders up and sometimes down the mountain. Ski lifts can either be fixed grip or detachable. A fixed grip chairlift is a type of chairlift where chairs are permanently attached to a spinning cable that goes around two wheels at the top and bottom of a mountain. The wheels are referred to as bullwheels. Detachable chairlifts are not directly connected to the moving cable. They use grips to clamp onto the cable, which then moves them up the mountain. This allows the chair to slow down for loading and unloading by detaching the grip on the cable. After the chair detaches from the cable, it goes around the terminal slowly on small wheels. This slows down the chair to make loading and unloading the chair easier. 

Finally we have food and rentals. No matter where in the world you ski or snowboard, resorts know that they need to cater to tired travelers. To that end, many resorts have a long list of dining options, from buffets to smaller, cozier restaurants. Some even have dining hall-type spots to eat at. Most have a variety of food choices, from hot pizza to fresh salad, they would have almost anything that you would find in a food court. Rentals at ski resorts are common, Most rental packages include skis, boots, and poles. You should be able to choose from beginner or performance skis. Special packages are available for junior skiers. Helmets may be available for an additional charge, which can be as low as $10. 

From this information we can draw that the ski resort industry is very tough and competitive. Although this article doesn’t discuss everything in a resort, from the information we see that owning a ski resort is very difficult. Even though it can be very hard at times, the job pays off.