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Gunstock bundles up for a busy winter season

November 10, 2010
Gunstock Ski Club's annual sale is always a sure sign that the days are getting colder and the snow is getting closer, and early phone calls are pointing to a busy winter season at Gunstock Mountain Resort.

Snowmaking on the mountain is predicted to start this week, and Gunstock will aim to open for the season on Dec. 3, the first Friday of the month.

The Gunstock Ski Club managed to rack up over $1 million in inventory for its big ski sale last weekend, and Gunstock staff members have prepped all week for the Boston Ski Show starting Thursday. Five hundred people showed up for winter season recruitment, hoping to snag one of the 100 job openings at Gunstock.

"This is all a kick off to the season," Gunstock Director of Marketing Bill Quigley said. "This is a traditional start of the season, when you know the opening is close."

While Quigley is a full time employee at Gunstock, he is also a member of the ski club and said the relationship the club has with the facility is a great help since about 150 families are involved.

"We built up ski racks and seven or so businesses showed up to bring products. Plus we have consignment," said Quigley.

He said the ski club also has some history and is considered the oldest ski club in North America, dating back to 1917.

"It's all these organizations that make up Gunstock and the magic of the mountain. Winter means different things to different people whether it's racing, cross country, or the free board academy," said Quigley. "Now we have the new historical society (Gunstock Mountain Historical Preservation Society). The strength of the sum of Gunstock's parts are larger than any other regional business."

Quigley said it takes 600 employees to make Gunstock a key winter destination, including a new lifts manager and a new building and maintenance manager. Quigley said trails have already been mowed and are ready for snow, and in the meantime, Gunstock is hoping to put the final touches on its five-year plan.

Over the summer, Gunstock invested another half million dollars into its snowmaking machine. Snowmaking will start soon as possible based on the weather.

"We have invested $3.7 million over the past three years and a little over $12 million in 10 years. We are improving the product for anyone who comes," said Quigley.

Investments this past year will go toward a more energy efficient snowmaking system with the use of tower guns in the water system, which saves Gunstock money, creates more snow, and cuts Mother Nature a break.

"We will be able to pump 6,000 gallons of water in a minute with this. You need 137,000 gallons of water for optimal snowmaking for 12 inches of snow on one acre of land," said Quigley. "It's a constant battle with snowmaking. The goal is to have the top to bottom skiing on opening day. If you can have a good portion open by Christmas, that's good."

Quigley said Gunstock is affordable for families and that a $499 lift pass for an adult covers the entire season from December until April, a number that cannot beat some vacation prices.

Families also seem to be extra receptive to what Gunstock has to offer this year, he said.

"The phone has been ringing off the hook for seasonal programs. People want to have fun with their families, to go out and spend money on their kids and spend time with their families," said Quigley. "This time is precious and in this economy parents are looking for more and more deals and ways to spend time with their kids."

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