Panorama Mountain Resort has begun its 55th year and this season is bigger and better than ever with a community-minded and experiential philosophy that makes it a top resort among its peers (it’s currently ranked third in Canada).
President and Chief Executive Officer at Panorama Mountain Resort Steve Paccagnan sat down with the Pioneer to talk about some of the exciting new things at the resort as it goes into its second month of ski-readiness already, thanks in part to its investment in snowmaking technology. The resort will officially open for the season on Friday, December 8th but it has already enjoyed some early start dates in November.
The resort takes great pride in its continual investment ($700,000 most recently) to making fresh snow and with the arrival of a new automated, remotely controlled mid-mountain pump station, Panorama is able to increase its snowmaking capacity over a greater area and with greater capacity.
“We’ve had a record start to our season and our new snowmaking system has really been the reason why we’ve had a big year in capital investments. One of the big projects was an expanded snowmaking system which has really been an incredible insurance for the resort that allows us to open earlier and stay open longer,” said Mr. Paccagnan.“The other exciting project has been our terrain expansion…we’ve expanded about 1,000 acres in the high alpine and the advantage of that is a lot of snow up high so it ensures the product and it allows us to have a variety of product again with guaranteed snow, given the elevation.”
The new terrain can be viewed from the Summit Hut, or up by the Ridgeline Trail. From the Summit Hut guests will be able to see the entire Taynton Bowl, which is part of the entire expansion area.
The expansion was referred to as monstrous by Panorama’s marketing team and features an additional 128 acres and 246 extra feet of long terrain. Four new runs including The Monster, Get out, Spectre, and Ridgeback have been added to Panorama’s list of epic adventures.
To roll out the expansion, Panorama has revealed a brand new website to show off its new features in a fun, interactive, stylish and accessible platform.
“We’ve worked hard over the summer with a web developing company and we put together a whole new brand and a new web platform which creates convenience and ease for web browsing and for the ability to purchase products,” said Mr. Paccagnan.
Mountain huts that are convenient for food, beverage and dining will also be something guests can look forward to when they visit Panorama this season.
“We’ve put a lot of energy back into them (restaurants) through renovations and one in particular that has had a significant investment by Panorama is the Elk Horn. The Elk Horn is quite significant in terms of its history; originally, it comes from the Elk Horn Ranch and was dedicated to Don Bilodeau, one of the former ski school owners and directors whose legacy lives on,” said Mr. Paccagnan.
It has a host of wines, craft beers, liqueurs and is a great place for skiers to get lunch. The hut has hardwood floors, hand-hewn bars, and the deck has been refurbished.
“There are a number of little surprises in there that make it authentic, pure Canada (Canadiana) and authentic in terms of its history and the legacy that was left when Don brought it up there. People are really enjoy going up to see it,” said Mr. Paccagnan.
The team at Panorama has also renovated a restaurant and named it Eleven Fifty and there’s a special type of meaning behind the name.
“The significance behind the Eleven Fifty is it’s the base elevation so it’s 1150 metres and there’s classic Canadiana type of cuisine in there. It’s going to have a really cozy type of ambience to it with a fireplace, a lounge area, it’s got a bar and it’s got a really cool feel to it.”
Another hip feature the ski resort has recently implemented is the use of trail maps made from stone, a paper product made from calcium carbonate, recycled concrete, and a photodegradable resin.
“They are very silky in terms of feel and touch and they’re waterproof so they’re very durable that way. You can crinkle them up, so they’re very user-friendly and if they do end up in the garbage they’re recyclable.”
Along with the introduction of Radio Frequency Identification Technology (RFID) to offer guests hands-free lift access this year, the resort also offers heli skiing.
“Another aspect that we should be very proud about is that we’re one of the only resorts in the world that has world class helicopter skiing from the heart of the resort with RK Heliski. We’re very fortunate to have RK as part of the whole resort community and there’s not a lot of resorts that can offer world class skiing in the Purcell’s (Purcell Mountains) like the team that RK does. It’s absolutely incredible. You can come from anywhere in the world and experience alpine skiing, nordic skiing, and helicopter skiing from one central location,” said Mr. Paccagnan.
Mainly, the resort is seeing phenomenal success because of the team it works with and because of its philosophy to invest in the experiential side of things with the resort putting $25 million back into its own amenities to improve and enhance the guest experience.
“The resort that is ranked third in Canada is ranked that way because of our people and that gives me incredible pride. We have a great group of core people from the Valley here that everyday make Panorama a career choice and their dedication, passion, and commitment to the resort is really incredible and I’m really proud of the people first and foremost,” said Mr. Paccagnan.“I think it’s iconic in nature and something that all of us here in the Columbia Valley should be really proud of.”
For more information on Panorama Mountain Resort visit www.panoramaresort.com.