AlpineZone Challenge 2004 – Ben Wilcox of Cranmore Mountain
The AlpineZone Ski Area Challenge was designed to provide a method for our forum members to get official answers to skiing-related questions directly from a ski area representative. Ben Wilcox, General Manager of Cranmore Mountain Resort in North Conway, New Hampshire, took the AlpineZone Ski Area Challenge and provided the following responses on 10/12/2004:
thetrailboss: Thanks for taking the challenge. Rumor has it that night skiing is returning, which I think is great since helped distinguish your resort from others in the Conway area. Briefly, what are the details of this return of night skiing (i.e. hours, rates, dates, amount of mountain open)?
Ben Wilcox: Night skiing will take place on Saturdays (starting January 1) and nightly during Christmas and February Vacation weeks. We will offer top to bottom skiing and riding on 11 trails, including the Darkside Terrain Park now located on the expanded Zip’s Trail. The best part of all is that lift tickets for the evening (4pm to 9pm) will be $12 for all ages.
stomachdoc: Thanks for taking the challenge. I’m a Threedom Pass holder with Waterville Valley as my home base. Can you contrast the run types and overall skier experience at Cranmore with what we’re used to at Waterville Valley? I’d love to try Cranmore, but entice me a little…
Ben Wilcox: Cranmore is similar to Waterville in the respect that there is a wide variety of terrain on one mountain peak. All abilities can ride to the summit, utilizing a high-speed quad lift. The trails to the left and right of the mountain are classic old fashion ski trails, many of which are hidden from the bottom of the mountain. Down the middle of the mountain and off the backside, wide open slopes let you capture spectacular views and give you room to carve up the mountain. From comment cards, the best quote says it all – “more than I expected”.
uphillklimber: What ski and stay deals do you have available?
Ben Wilcox: Cranmore and North Conway is a great place to find an affordable ski vacation. In addition to slopeside options, we provide ski and stay packages with a number of properties in the Mount Washington Valley at numerous price points. Day passes are discounted at lodging properties and new this year, ask about deeper discounts on multi-day ticket options.
Visit www.cranmore for a list of properties.
uphillklimber: Are there plans to increase lodge space?
Ben Wilcox: We are currently working on adding a new 5,200 square foot Sprung Structure at Cranmore this season. The new structure will double the size of our current rental shop, add 150 cafeteria style seats and a new season-long locker room. This will drastically improve the flow at Cranmore.
uphillklimber: Will there be an afternoon grooming of the night slopes?
Ben Wilcox: Yes we will be re-grooming the mountain for night skiing in the late afternoon.
Greg: Thanks for taking the time to participate in the challenge, Ben. Prior to your positions as General Manager, you were the marketing director for Bretton Woods. How will your experience at Bretton Woods affect the operations at Cranmore? Are there any glaringly obvious changes that you would like to implement?
Ben Wilcox: When arriving at Cranmore, I identified that Cranmore did not offer a teen ticket or multi-day ticket option. These will be added this season to offer more options for guests. We are also adding more lodge space to the base area to help improve service levels.
Cranmore has always run a quality operation and best of all, has a quality staff. Both Cranmore and Bretton Woods are known for excellent customer service, quality programs and family friendly slopes. I will work hard to share my Bretton Woods experiences with the staff at Cranmore to strengthen an already strong product.
Cranmore strengths as compared to Bretton Woods: proximity to North Conway (lodging and restaurant options), progressive terrain park, Top to bottom night skiing on 11 trails, and tremendous season pass and daily lift ticket values.
Greg: Are there any infrastructure improvements/upgrades planned, e.g. lifts, snowmaking, base/summit facilities, etc.? Are there any terrain expansion plans for the 2004-2005 ski season? If so, what types of trails will be added?
Ben Wilcox: Base Area improvements: Upgraded food and beverage operations, new Sprung Structure adding 5,200 square feet to our base area facilities (new rental shop, 150 new cafeteria seats, and a new season-long locker room). We are also working with the New England Ski Museum to decorate the base facilities with Cranmore’s rich history.
Trail Expansions: Zips trail is now double in width and will be the new home of the Darkside Terrain Park. The park will be lit from both sides. A new glade has been added to the right of Zips.
Lifts: The upper tubing lift will be lengthened.
Fitness Center: New cardio equipment has been added and spinning bikes will be added before Christmas.
Greg: Do you have any plans to open a forum or chat room on your website? Do you read web forums like AlpineZone.com? If so, do you ever want to reply to posts about Cranmore or other ski areas?
Ben Wilcox: I am pleased to participate in this forum and will continue to on a regular basis. Regarding our own web site, I’m not sure whether we will add a forum.
Greg: ASC is currently offering the ASC Gold Pass (no blackout dates; good at six resorts) for $699. What do you feel will be the effect of such aggressive season pass pricing on the Northeast ski industry as a whole, especially for mid-sized mountains like Cranmore?
Ben Wilcox: ASC is following a trend that was set by Booth Creek years ago in the East. The Threedom Pass has been very popular for many years and the introduction of the new ASC pass has not affected our sales. The unique aspect of the Threedom Pass is that it includes three NH Resorts. The ASC pass, while a value, is spread out all over New England and is not focused on one region as the Threedom pass is. Overall, more affordable pass options will hopefully get more people skiing, more often.
Greg: Loon uses standard grooming equipment to “seed” very evenly spaced mogul fields on intermediate terrain. Does Cranmore also have the capacity to do this and is it something you’ve considered?
Ben Wilcox: Yes, we also create mogul fields by using standard grooming equipment and the blade of the machine.
To view forum comments on this Challenge and the Challenge Results, please visit the following page: