Firms positive despite slow start to season
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.’