Success Story: Ski and Stay program invites Alaskans to hit the slopes in Smithers

The Ski and Stay Smithers program is designed to bring more visitors to the Bulkley Valley in the winter months when tourism traffic in the area is generally slower.

But instead of focusing on traditional target markets such as Vancouver and Calgary, the program has focused on attracting visitors from Alaska, the Yukon and Northern B.C.

From November to April, Smithers’ Hudson Bay Mountain offers some of the best powder in Western Canada, including 36 runs ranging in difficulty and stunning panoramic views of the Bulkley Valley and surrounding mountain peaks.

The Ski and Stay program is a partnership between Hudson Bay Mountain Adventures, Hudson Bay Lodge, Aspen Inn and Suites, the Bulkley Valley Economic Development Association and the Northern B.C. Tourism Association to help promote the resort.

The partner hotels work with the ski resort to create easy-to-book ski packages that start with one-and-a-half day getaways.

For example, two nights accommodation at the Hudson Bay Lodge and four adult full-day lift tickets is $169 per person.

Northern Development Initiative Trust contributed $18,000 in grant funding through its Marketing Initiatives program to help make the project a reality.

The project has already generated results, with total sales increasing 10% during the 2013/14 season compared with the year before.

Visitors from Alaska, the Yukon and other parts of Northern B.C. have booked a number of packages, which has increased local tourism revenue in the Bulkley Valley during the winter.

The increase in revenue has helped boost local employment during the winter season, providing welcomed stability for the local hotels and their staff.

Testimonials
“Here are the things I love about skiing at Hudson Bay Mountain: I love that it is small and intimate. I love no lift lines. I love the relaxed atmosphere, most people are there to have fun and aren’t there to ski like downhill racers. The snow is great, the people very welcoming and friendly. The lift staff is helpful and really wants you to be having fun. Staying in a cabin on the ski run is especially great, no driving! Skiing to the lift in the morning and skiing back to the cabin at the end of the day is wonderfully relaxing.
I even enjoy traveling to Smithers. The ferry ride is an adventure, the drive up the Skeena Valley is awesome” – Judith McQuerry, Ketchikan, Alaska

“We really look forward to our ski trips to Hudson Bay Mountain in Smithers, B.C., every winter. The ski hill, with great runs and a terrific lodge, is awesome: The snow is dry powder and plenty of it, the people are friendly and it’s easy to get there from Ketchikan. We love seeing our friends from Ktown there, too. Come ski with us!” – Jim and Mary Lynne Dahl, Ketchikan, Alaska

“Our Ski and Stay marketing program has grown over the years and does two things in my mind: first it lets people know, from Prince Rupert to Prince George and from Whitehorse to Ketchikan, that Hudson Bay Mountain, the community of Smithers and our hotels are ready and waiting to receive them for a great ski experience. It also reminds people all winter long about our community, so even if they don’t want to ski, there is a ‘happening’ little mountain town they should come check out,” said Gladys Attril, Tourism Smithers.

“The Ski and Stay program is a great initiative to boost tourism traffic to one the region’s premier attractions during the slower winter months. The funding provided by Northern Development is directly helping to attract new visitors to the region, which helps generate additional revenue for local businesses and support tourism jobs in our region,” said Dean McKinley, Director, Economic Development, Northern Development Initiative Trust.

Quick Facts
• From November to April, Smithers’ Hudson Bay Mountain offers some of the best powder in Western Canada, including 36 runs ranging in difficulty and stunning panoramic views of the Bulkley Valley and surrounding mountain peaks
• The Ski and Stay Smithers program is a partnership between Hudson Bay Mountain Adventures, Hudson Bay Lodge, Aspen Inn and Suites, the Bulkley Valley Economic Development Association and the Northern B.C. 
Tourism Association to help promote the resort
• The partner hotels work with the ski resort to create easy-to-book ski packages that start with one-and-a-half day getaways.
• Visitors from Alaska, the Yukon and other parts of Northern B.C. have booked a number of packages, which has increased local tourism revenue in the Bulkley Valley during the winter.

Key Numbers
• 36 – the number of ski runs on Hudson Bay Mountain
• 8 kilometres – the longest run on Hudson Bay Mountain
• 5,413 feet – top elevation of Hudson Bay Mountain resort
• 75% – the number of runs that are rated intermediate or expert
• 10% – the year-over-year growth in bookings at the resort thanks to the Ski and Stay program
• $18,000 – the grant funding that Northern Development contributed to Ski and Stay Smithers to market the resort

Funding partners
Northern B.C. Tourism Association
Hudson’s Bay Mountain Adventures
Bulkley Valley Economic Development Association
Hudson Bay Lodge
Aspen Inn and Suites

Get in touch with us

Allan Stroet
Economic Development Officer
Bulkley Valley Economic Development Association
allanstroet@bveda.ca
www.bveda.ca

Dean McKinley
Director, Economic Development
Northern Development Initiative Trust
dean@northerndevelopment.bc.ca
www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca