New chairlift highlights $13 million worth of projects in Sun Peaks this year

Michael Potestio

Kamloops This Week

By the time ski season is in full swing next winter, Sun Peaks Resort expects to have much-needed, multi-million-dollar enhancements in place.

Canada’s second-largest ski area is investing upwards of $13 million in developments in 2018, highlighted by a new chairlift earmarked for the east village and a makeover of its 221 rooms in the Sun Peaks Grand Hotel and Conference Centre.

Both projects are expected to be complete by December.

The chairlift project is expected to cost about $4 million and the hotel renovations are tabbed at $7 million, all of which is being funded by the company that owns the resort.

Sun Peaks chief marketing officer Aidan Kelly said that while the number of users doesn’t support the need for a new chairlift, the project is required to provide better access to the main village core from the east village, which is seeing a lot of new development.

“It’ll open up new routes for those folks to the [main] village and then provide some better access to existing ski terrain that we already have that’s a little trickier to get to without this lift in place,” Kelly said.

The change to the hotel rooms will include new furniture, artwork and flooring, he said.

“That’ll bring it up to have a bit more of a modern, contemporary feel while still keeping the rustic appeal of the location,” he said.

No additional rooms are being added to the hotel as the renovation is all about improving the experience for visitors.

Other capital projects the company is investing in include enhancing its Sundance Express chairlift and purchasing two new Sno-Cat machines to groom the runs.

The Sundance Express is the busiest chairlift in the resort and will get a 30 per cent capacity increase next year through the addition of new chairs on the line.

In total, the company is investing about $13 million in the resort in 2018, which is in addition to a $7-million multi-purpose indoor facility the resort municipality announced it will build by 2020.

All told, there is about $60 million worth of new development ongoing at the local ski resort — $40 million of which is connected to ongoing real estate construction.

The Village Walk townhomes are expected to be completed by next winter and Echo Landing will break ground in the east village in a few weeks and should be complete in a couple of years, Kelly said.

“There’s plenty of room to be growing and developing the resort in different ways and we want to do that through growing the bed base here, so these two projects are a really good start towards that,” Kelly said.

The number of skiers has seen constant improvement over the last three seasons at Sun Peaks and Kelly said they are closing in on another record-breaking year.

“We had two years in a row of record-breaking numbers,” he said.

Sun Peaks saw about 360,000 skier visits in 2015-2016 and broke the record last year with 390,000 skier visits in 2016-2017.

The resort has never hit the 400,000 mark, but that white whale may be caught before the 2017-2018 season comes to a close as the numbers sit well north of 350,000 with a few big events to come.

“We’ve got a few weeks left in the season, but a couple of good ones with the Easter long weekend this weekend, next week we have the big Snowbombing international music festival and then we have our closing weekend, so there’s plenty of excitement to get us to the finish line,” Kelly said.

He said he’s optimistic the resort will set another record year in skier visits this season.

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