Firms pos­i­tive de­spite slow start to sea­son

The Oban Times - - THE OBAN TIMES & WEST HIGHLAND TIMES - KATIE CARABINE kcara­bine@oban­times.co.uk

LOCHABER’S two ski re­sorts have been feel­ing the ef­fects of the mild weather but say they are pre­pared and ready to open up as soon as there is enough snow.

Ne­vis Range and Glen­coe Moun­tain Re­sort have each had less than a hand­ful of days so far where they were able to open for skiing and snow­board­ing.

Ne­vis Range mar­ket­ing man­ager Heather Ne­gus said: ‘At the mo­ment we don’t have enough snow to open fully. We did man­age to open for one day ear­lier in Jan­uary and the ar­ti­fi­cial slope is open at the mo­ment for be­gin­ner les­sons. Our new lo­cals group has now had three weeks of les­sons.

‘Al­though we are dis­ap­pointed not to be fully open for skiing yet, our cus­tomers should be as­sured that we are pre­pared and wait­ing to open up the rest of the hill as soon as there’s enough snow.’

Glen­coe Moun­tain Re­sort has also had a quiet start, hav­ing not had many ski days so far.

Di­rec­tor Andy Mel­drum said: ‘ We’ve had a slow start with just four days of skiing so far, but there’s been lots of sledg­ing. We’ve got plenty of big patches of snow but cur­rently not enough to ski. We’ve been rea­son­ably busy though, with the sledg­ing.’

Other busi­nesses in the Lochaber area have also been af­fected by the lack of win­tery con­di­tions. El­lis Brigham man­ager Si­mon Pit­man said: ‘We’ve spo­ken to all the re­tail­ers on the High Street and ev­ery­body is find­ing it quite slow at the mo­ment.

‘We do still have cus­tom from peo­ple go­ing away on hol­i­day. Lots of peo­ple have been go­ing away this sea­son. We are def­i­nitely still wait­ing for the sea­son to be­gin here though.’

Tina Cuth­bert­son, who owns the Snow­goose Moun­tain Cen­tre in Cor­pach along with her hus­band John, said the lack of snow has meant their ac­com­mo­da­tion has been qui­eter than it has been in more than 25 years.

She said: ‘ This has been the qui­etest Jan­uary we’ve ever had since we’ve had the busi­ness in its cur­rent form, which is 1990, and that’s al­most purely snow-re­lated.’

She added that the mild sea­son has also af­fected the win­ter moun­tain cour­ses they run – in­clud­ing moun­taineer­ing and ice climb­ing – which start this week­end as usual, but to a lesser ex­tent than they would nor­mally.

The lack of snow has not been prob­lem­atic for ev­ery­one, how­ever. The Alexan­dra Ho­tel said: We’ve had a busier win­ter sea­son than we’ve had be­fore. The snow’s not been a prob­lem for us.’

For those still dream­ing of a white win­ter to boost busi­ness, things are look­ing up.

Mrs Cuth­bert­son said: ‘ We have an in­flux of book­ings in Fe­bru­ary at the Snow­goose cen­tre for both ac­com­mo­da­tion and the cour­ses.’

Mr Mel­drum is not too wor­ried about the suc­cess of his sea­son just yet ei­ther.

He said: ‘His­tor­i­cally at Glen­coe Moun­tain, with it be­ing quite rocky, we tend not to open un­til late Jan­uary any­way. The av­er­age is Jan­uary 17, so it’s some­times in De­cem­ber and some­times not till Fe­bru­ary. I think the lat­est so far has been Fe­bru­ary 19 so this sea­son is not un­usual – yet.

‘It won’t take much to get fully op­er­a­tional, just a cou­ple of good snow storms and we’ll be up and run­ning.

‘ We can have skiing up un­til late April, even early May, so once the snow does come it can stick around for a while. There’s still a lot of life left in the sea­son.’

Ms Ne­gus is also re­main­ing pos­i­tive about the prospects for the rest of the sea­son at Ne­vis Range.

She said: ‘ There were snow show­ers last week­end and there’s snow in the fore­cast to­wards this week­end.

‘In pre­vi­ous years, we’ve still been open for snows­ports in April and had lovely skiing con­di­tions into May. We’re fre­quently forced to close through lack of in­ter­est from our cus­tomers rather than lack of snow.

‘So, at this stage in the sea­son there’s plenty of time for many months of skiing and for our cus­tomers to have a great time skiing and snow­board­ing.’

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