On April 11, 2023

A tale of two seasons: Okemo to close April 16 

By Glenn Heitsmith

 Okemo Mountain Ski Resort buttons up its winter business on Sunday, April 16,  with a strong snowpack and equally impressive customer satisfaction numbers.

As guest speaker for the April 4 meeting of the Ludlow Rotary Club, Okemo GM and Vice President Bruce Schmidt described a “tale of two seasons.” 

Snowfall for the season stands at 162 inches, Schmidt told the club, compared to a 130-inch average for this date. The resort will close on April 16 after 149 consecutive days of skiing.

Not bad for a season that opened with 11 trails on Nov. 19 – in time for Thanksgiving, but with little help from Mother Nature. On Dec. 16, an astonishing 27 inches of snow fell, but much of that melted before a couple of modest snowfalls arrived in time for the Christmas holiday week.

Repetitive rain, thaw and refreezes kept snowmakers busy resurfacing the slopes through January and then the bottom fell out on Feb. 4, literally, when the temperature dropped to -25 F, Schmidt said. 

But what was tough on skiers was good for snowmaking and the cold temperatures enabled Okemo to open almost all of its terrain by Feb. 8. Just a few natural snow trails remained closed, awaiting more snow. 

By March 1, Okemo Ski Patrol had dropped ropes on all 122 trails.

Schmidt pointed to the overall good skiing, “no vaccine checking” and 100% staffing of all outlets, including food and beverage operations, as contributing to improved customer satisfaction. 

The resort scored a “2” last year on the “GX” measurement scale. The score this season is up to “34,” he said.

Working closely with the town of Ludlow, Okemo improved its skier arrival process with better directional signage, parking lot management and shuttle bus route to ease traffic flow through town. 

Schmidt also pointed to a closer working relationship with the Ludlow Ambulance Service (Okemo’s annual contribution was $38,000) and tighter ties to Springfield Hospital.

Looking ahead, Schmidt verified the need for more employee housing, which it presently offers at a half-dozen locations around town. Okemo also is developing a 10-year master plan to improve its Clock Tower base, including lodge upgrades, replacing one of two A/B quads with a high-speed lift, phasing out fuel oil-fired air compressors and developing off-site parking with shuttle service to Bixby Field, about two miles away. 

In two years, Okemo plans to offer a rental program to deliver ski gear “directly to your condo,” Schmidt said.

Also on the radar, Okemo is closely monitoring the new Killington Six Peaks Village project that will host about 1,500 new residents in 200 condos and townhomes, homesites and two 85-acre ski-in ski-out sites. Much of the new traffic from Killington’s project is expected to travel through Ludlow.

For the short term, Okemo skiers next year will note “expanded space” near the Black Ridge Triple chairlift where some trees were recently removed. A new low energy bluetooth connection through The MyEpic cellphone app will capture ski pass data, enabling skiers to ditch their RFID cards.

Club President Jim Rumrill thanked Schmidt on behalf of Vail Resorts “Epic Promise” and Okemo Mountain for nearly three decades of support for the Youth Exchange Ski program that offers nearby Rotary’s International Exchange Students a ski weekend in Vermont.

The Ludlow Rotary Club meets on Tuesdays for lunch at DJ’s Restaurant. Contact any Rotarian for more information.

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