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By Don Douloff
SUN PEAKS, BC—May 1, 2014, marked a watershed moment in the history of BC’s Sun Peaks Resort, since that was the day its parent company assumed management of the luxury hotel and made a strong commitment to strengthen its market position.
To date, Delta Hotels and Resorts had operated both the 12-year-old hotel, and more recently the adjacent Delta Residences at Sun Peaks, under a management agreement with the property’s developer and owner SP Hotel Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sun Peaks Resort Corp.
With the current management contract set to end on April 30, 2014, both Sun Peaks Resort and Delta Hotels and Resorts agreed to end their joint agreement, paving the way for Sun Peaks Resort Corp. to assume management of the property. The hotel’s existing ownership, management personnel and employees remain in place.
With the management change also came a May 1 name change to Sun Peaks Grand Hotel & Conference Centre, chosen to reflect the property’s first-rate guest facilities, amenities and services and its landmark position within the resort village, which debuted half a century ago and is located in BC’s interior, 45 minutes northeast of Kamloops.
In addition to the hotel name change and a move to locally-based management, Sun Peaks Resort Corp. is undertaking the first steps in the resort’s development plan, which includes creating additional trails for both winter and summer activities (for example, there will be an extra 500 acres available for downhill skiing).
This spring, work starts on new trails in the West Morrisey and Gil’s area. For the 2014/2015 winter season, skiable terrain will grow to 4,200 acres, making Sun Peaks Canada’s second-largest ski resort, according to Darcy Alexander, vice president and general manager of Sun Peaks Resort Corp.
Furthermore, the development project will add about three km of new village trails in the valley and will improve walking and bike-riding trails near the top of the mountain at about the 7,000-foot level, he said.
In addition to enhancing the resort’s natural assets, the development project will refurbish Sun Peaks Grand itself, by refreshing the health club and sauna; public-area furniture; and carpets and flooring throughout.
All of these planned improvements set the stage for a major push to market the resort more intensively to regional markets (B.C., Alberta and Washington State) and long-haul markets—Ontario, Quebec, the Greater U.S. and, overseas, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., German-speaking Europe, China and Japan, Alexander told CLN.
For long-haul markets, for instance, Sun Peaks will work with tour wholesalers to target the skier base. “We need to make sure that everything in the resort gets packaged from A to Z for our guests—‘pick what you want and you’ll have exceptional experiences,’” he said.
Certainly, there’s plenty to package. For outdoor enthusiasts, winter activities include skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobile tours, ice skating and bungee trampoline. In summer, there’s hiking, mountain bike riding, canoeing and Nordic pole walking, to name only a few.
For the culturally and gastronomically inclined, there are outdoor summer concerts (everything from pop, country and tribute bands to Doodlebops musical playdates for children), June-to-September farmers markets and a winter wine festival.
Winter accounts for 75 per cent of the village’s business, with summer making up the balance, said Alexander. In percentage terms, however, summer is growing at a faster rate, he noted.
Complementing the plethora of four-season outdoor activities are the village’s accommodation options—1,700 rooms, including seven hotels offering a combined 900 guestrooms (222 rooms at Sun Peaks alone) and the balance offered at condos and single-family dwellings. The Residences at Sun Peaks offers another 41 rooms.
On the meetings side, Sun Peaks Grand offers a 12,000-square-foot conference centre accommodating groups of up to 500.
To further bolster its next phase of development, Sun Peaks Grand will work closely with the Tourism Sun Peaks destination marketing organization and Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality.
“Local management [of Sun Peaks Grand] allows for closer integration with the tourism marketing organization and municipality, making for easier, more seamless marketing efforts,” said Alexander.
To that end, everyone in the resort’s business community is a member of Tourism Sun Peaks. “We will be taking a major step to take things to the next level,” he said. “When individual businesses thrive, then the resort as a whole thrives. A rising tide lifts all boats.”