As western Newfoundland's Marble Mountain ski resort gets ready for the 2022 season, the provincial government hopes a busy year — boosted by a marketing campaign and new food venues — will attract a buyer.
The government-owned hill is still up for sale, with a new request for proposals coming any day now, according to the Tourism Department.
"Government should not be operating ski hills," said Tourism Minister Steve Crocker on Wednesday.
A three-year effort to privatize Marble Mountain ended in July without a deal, and the provincial government cancelled its request for proposals. But the search for a buyer is back on.
"There are people out there that can operate Marble Mountain and make it a very successful resort and a very successful piece of the west coast," said Crocker. "But it's important this coming season while we still are the operator, that we do operate. Because Marble can offer so much to our industry on the west coast."
$1.2M to operate
But provincial spending on the resort has been slashed this year. The province has allotted the ski resort a $1.2-million budget, with $800,000 for capital investments, like a new cable on the Black Mariah chair lift and renovations to the dated Marble Villa. The rest, $400,000, will go to operating costs.
That's about 40 per cent less funding than last year, when the provincial government spent close to $2 million to keep the resort going following a 22-day ski season due to poor weather and COVID-19 shutdowns.
"We will have to get creative, there's no doubt," said Marble Mountain general manager Richard Wells this week. "We hope to get to the next level down the road to prove this place a little bit more profitable."
Wells and his staff have big plans to revitalize the resort this ski season and bring in large live music festivals, a New Year's Eve event, vendor markets and new menus and food venues to attract skiers and riders to stick around after their day on the snowy hill and spend more money.
New lodge attractions
"By creating multiple events every night we are going to create a ski village atmosphere," said Marble Mountain's new marketing manager, Dustin Parsons.
While the province waits for a buyer to come forward, Marble Mountain plans to operate as normal this winter, if there is adequate snow. Staff are aiming to open Jan. 5, only close the mountain only one day a week.
The Marble Mountain Development Corporation has a new chairperson, and the Tourism Department hopes to fill vacant seats with representatives from Corner Brook and Steady Brook soon.
Crocker says a successful ski season has the potential to pack hotels and restaurants on Newfoundland's west coast, a tourism boost needed after pandemic restrictions.
"If Marble Mountain has a successful season we will see success in the entire region with hotel rooms and the hospitality industry," said Crocker.