CAMELBACK RESORT - Snow East Magazine

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CAMELBACK RESORT - Snow East Magazine

Although I grew up only a stone’s throw from

the Pocono Mountains, it wasn’t until my

20s that I first put on a pair of skis. After all,

this was the early 1970s and skiing had yet to hit

its full stride throughout the mid-Atlantic states.

Eventually, colleagues managed to convince

me to come to the mountain with them. “Just

give it a try,” they said. “It’s a lot of fun.” So

was playing the accordion, I thought, but that

fad lasted about six months or so.

I recall visiting Camelback Ski Area for the

first time with a sense of trepidation, not

knowing what to expect from a sport that

exposed you to both frigid weather and some

very steep hills. Without the benefit of any

instruction, that initial experience was one

to forget as I spent too much time getting

acquainted with the snow.

A lot has changed since then, including my

view of skiing and the Pocono Mountains

themselves. Once known throughout the world

as a honeymoon haven, complete with heartshaped

tubs and New York City nightclub acts,

resorts throughout the Poconos are now trying

to reinvent themselves. In other words, “This

ain’t your parents’ Poconos anymore.”

“There’s been a shift of focus for Pocono

destination resorts lately and we need to make

sure that our guests are impressed from the

moment they arrive,” says Art Berry, a Pocono

Camelback averages over 50” of snowfall annually

and features 100% snowmaking

CAMELBACK RESORT

TANNERSVILLE - PENNSYLVANIA

Camelback brings the

smiles out of everybody

businessman who purchased 43-year-old Camelback

in June, 2005. “Time is so valuable today that

we need to give people a reason to come.”

Throughout a good portion of the 20th Century,

the Poconos attracted a tremendous influx of

guests as an established honeymoon and weekend

tourist destination. However, the new generation

of couples didn’t want the same things as their parents,

and began to look elsewhere. Air travel came

down in price and the Caribbean Islands started

to offer attractive honeymoon packages.

As a result, most of the Pocono resorts began

going after the family market and today

are interested in providing special mid-week

packages designed to increase tourism during

Monday through Friday. This is especially true

for ski resorts.

“It’s our obligation to entice tourists with a variety

of winter packages in order to build skier loyalty

by creating an environment where parents will

want to bring their families for an extended period

of time,” Berry says.

Located in northeast Pennsylvania off

Interstate 80, just 15 minutes from the

New Jersey border, Camelback’s proximity

to New York City, the sprouting Lehigh

Valley, and Philadelphia is two hours or

less from a metropolitan population of

more than 11 million people.

With a total of seven ski resorts and

146 trails, the Pocono Mountains

serve as a breeding ground for the

development of skiers, many of

whom eventually venture to larger

ski areas in New England to test

their newly developed skills.

Camelback’s idyllic location,

along with a keen attention to

detail, is a main reason why

the resort attracts on average

350,000 skier visits each year.

Camelback officials place skier

convenience at the top of their

priority list, from a stream-

continued on page

SNOWEAST By Jeff Lewis

SNOWEAST


Great skiing + great riding = great times

continued from page

lined ski rental process to the installation

of two high-speed quad chairlifts, the only

ski resort in Pennsylvania to boast such a

claim. These lifts whisk skiers and boarders

to the summit in less than four minutes,

meaning more time spent on the mountain

and less time on the lifts. During the week,

skiers can often get in 25 runs before they

break for lunch.

Camelback initiated a “one-stop” shopping policy

several years ago to allow guests the opportunity to

purchase a ticket, rent skis and take a lesson all at

the ticket window. In 2002 customers were given the

option of bypassing the ticket window by purchasing

their rental equipment and lift tickets online. Once

they arrive at the ski area, they simply go to the

Welcome Center where their form is already filled

out and then proceed to the rental shop where their

equipment, already sized, is waiting for them. “It

goes nice and smoothly for the people,” says Maryalice

Southern, a rental shop employee.

SNOWEAST

All trails are open for night skiing

“We have tried different traffic patterns, different

ski racks, different boot racks, different points of

sales and I think we finally have come up with an

excellent system to minimize the wait for our guests

who rent skis and snowboards,” explains Rich Wiseman,

vice president and general manager.

Once known as a mountain with too many intersecting

trails, the expansion of its terrain in 1997 added a

much needed dimension of wider trails with plenty of

elbow room for skiers and boarders. In particular, the

Nile Mile provides skiers of all ability levels with over

5,300 feet of downhill excitement. The ski area prides

itself as a family resort, and 61 percent of its terrain is

suited for novice skiers and boarders.

However, with 33 trails and 800 vertical feet, intermediate

and advanced skiers are not shortchanged

at Camelback. Several challenging slopes with precipitous

headwalls and natural fall lines, including

the Asp and the double-black-diamond Cliffhanger,

test the mettle of skiers. The Pharaoh to the Bactrian

is a great run for cruisers who like to point their

skis straight down the hill. A trip to the Poconos

would not be complete without a leisurely run down

Honeymoon Lane.

Camelback’s expansive snowmaking, which blankets

100 percent of its terrain, more than compensates

for the region’s modest annual snowfall of 50

inches. Coupled with an experienced grooming team,

Camelback dispels the myth that eastern skiing is

nothing more than a combination of icy, hard-packed

conditions. In fact, silky, corduroy surfaces can be

experienced by skiers and riders savvy enough to arrive

early, before the hordes of cars with out-of-state

license plates begin the fill the parking lot. Groomers

purposely leave one or two trails intact in order to

create moguls for the bump lovers. Skiers will find

the entire mountain available for night skiing.

The area plans to expand its two terrain parks

in order to accommodate the growing number of

snowboarders and skiers who prefer the thrills associated

with half-pipes and wall rides. “Our goal for the

future is to build terrain parks with more advanced

features since that’s what many of our guests tell us

they want,” Berry says.

A good portion of Camelback’s future success will

hinge on its ability to identify first-time skiers and

boarders, according to Berry. “The true destination

resorts in New England or out west have a distinct

advantage when it comes to retaining first-time skiers, since

those people are usually at the resort for several days to a

week,” says Berry. “On the other hand, it’s a terrific task to

convert a first-timer into a skier when you only have them at

your ski area for a day.”

As such, Berry wants to create a Learn to Ski Center that,

in his opinion, will be very important in helping to identity

the first-time skiers and boarders. “If we only have one day

to convert these first-time skiers, then let’s do it right by

offering them the entire skiing experience in one area,” he

says. Tentative plans call for the expansion of the Sun Bowl

Lodge in order to house rentals, ticket windows, food services,

and ski school all with the first-timer in mind.

In order to perpetuate the skiing cycle, Camelback offers

a number of special packages designed to lure families

to the mountain. Especially popular is their policy

of giving free lift tickets to all kids 46 inches or under in

height wearing shoes, accompanied by a paying adult. A

Teddy Bears child care program is available to all children

from one through four years of age.

Camelback officials recently announced plans to build a 300-

room ski-in, ski-out hotel complex located at the southeast

end of the property. Although there are currently more than

400 condo units available for rent near the mountain, along

with a 200-room hotel, these accommodations are not ski-in,

ski-out. Also, Camelback does not own any of this lodging.

Other plans for the upscale hotel include an indoor waterpark,

full service spa, gourmet dining, and a ski lodge lobby.

“It’s imperative to provide people with a true ski destination

where they can enjoy themselves without having to drive back

home the same day,” Berry notes. “Typically people from our

area have to go to Vermont for this type of ski experience.”

He expects the project to be completed by 2008.

Ron Guse, a veteran of 37 years with the Camelback Ski

Patrol, likes what he sees in terms of

progress at the mountain. “I think

it’s been great and the changes,

such as the addition of a mogul field

and the expansion of the terrain,

have benefited all levels of skiers

from beginner to expert,” he says.

Camelback transforms itself into

Camelbeach after the ski season, a

burgeoning waterpark that draws

nearly the same amount of patrons

as the ski area. With its slipping and

sliding attractions, including Flow

Rider and Checkered Flag Challenge,

Camelbeach is the perfect

way to cool down during the dog

days of the summer. Despite the

waterpark’s popularity, ardent skiers

are always eager for the Pocono’s

resplendent fall foliage, a sure sign

that Camelback’s opening day is just

around the corner.

Big runs, big views,

Camelback

CAMELBACK RESORT

TANNERSVILLE - PENNSYLVANIA

Camelback Resort

Tannersville, Pennsylvania

Website:

It’s tubing time!

www.skicamelback.com

Telephone 570-629-1661

Vertical Drop:

Summit Elevation:

Snowmaking:

Lifts:

Capacity:

Trails:

800 feet

2,150 feet

100% coverage

2 high speed quads

3 triple chairs

7 double chairs

1 surface lifts

18,600 skiers/hour

33 Trails

Day & night skiing

Novice 61%

Intermediate 24%

Expert 15%

2 Terrain parks

1 Tubing park

Photography courtesy of Camelback Resort

CAMELBACK

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