For the week of January 6, 1999   thru January 12, 1999  

Resort reports average holiday business

Other nearby areas do better

Express Staff Writer

Despite a good early-season snowpack, Sun Valley Company reported only about an average number of skiers over the holidays.

Jack Sibbach, Sun Valley resort’s director of marketing and public relations, said daily skier counts over the holiday week ranged from a low of 4,676 on Friday, Dec. 31, to 6,050 on Wednesday, Dec. 29. Sibbach said the numbers were about like last year’s, a situation that he termed "a little disappointing" due to this season’s far better ski conditions. Early this week, Sun Valley was reporting 54 inches of snow at the top of the mountain.

"Our biggest problem is accessibility," Sibbach said.

Sibbach said the ski industry has been flat over the past 15 years, possibly due to increasing expenses of both skiing and travel. However, he said ski resorts find themselves in a bind of having to add more amenities, with corresponding price increases.

"The people who are willing to spend the money to get here are demanding those standards," Sibbach said.

Other nearby ski areas reported better-than-average business over the holidays.

At Bogus Basin, a New Year’s Day skier count of almost 6,000 was far above average, according to general manger Mike Shirley.

Shirly said 38 percent of those skiers had bought day tickets, despite the area’s having sold an unprecedented number of season passes. Bogus had contradicted Sun Valley Company’s policy of improving amenities at ever-higher costs when it sold season passes this year at $199 each. Area general manager Mike Shirley said the resort sold so many passes that its entire lift-revenue budget "was in the bank by the end of July."

"That’s why we’re so pleasantly surprised by the day-ticket sales, which are really gravy at this point," he said.

Grand Targhee, just over the Idaho border in Wyoming, reported an approximately 10 percent increase over last year, though the company would not reveal any numbers. General manager Larry Williamson attributed the alleged increase to the fact that with an almost 80-inch base on top, the mountain has more snow than other nearby areas. He also said skiers were likely attracted by recent improvements, including a high-speed quad lift, a skating rink, a lighted tubing park and snow-bike rentals.

Brundage Mountain, near McCall, reported an all-time business record on New Year’s Day. Jenni Blake, the resort’s communications coordinator, said 3,600 skiers were on the mountain that day, compared to an average weekend day of about 2,000 skiers. She attributed the crowds to a sunny day with good snow conditions. Brundage is reporting a 93-inch base on top of the mountain.


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