Some establishments around Ingonish, N.S., are enjoying an increase in business this winter, thanks in part to the new Atlantic Gondola at Ski Cape Smokey.
It's the first year the ski hill is operating with its new gondola, along with a renovated lodge and snow-making machines. The new additions have brought increased traffic to the slopes and to businesses in the surrounding area that have chosen to stay open throughout the winter.
Typically, the surrounding communities have very few places open year-round, but since millions of dollars have been invested in the hill, some seasonal operators have kept their doors open.
The popular tourist site Keltic Lodge Resort and Spa has made 40 of its rooms available for the winter season for the first time in decades. It was a decision made to help Ski Cape Smokey and the community.
"We certainly want to support them. They're investing a lot into the community and we want to support them by having a place for people to stay," said Kevin Hurd, general manager of the Keltic Lodge.
Hurd added that the lodge will likely be open next winter, too.
'Something to build on'
"I certainly think that this is something to build on for the community and for the ski hill and for us and I think it's great. So I certainly hope so," Hurd said.
Another nearby business capitalizing on the success of Ski Cape Smokey is a new venture that opened in Wreck Cove in July, called Shoreline Adventure Centre.
Shoreline provides cottage rentals as well as outdoor activities like mountain biking.
Co-owner Adam Shore said that since the gondola has been in operation, people have being making a point of visiting the area.
"What I noticed is really full parking lots," said Shore. "And when I took my family and went with friends and stuff on the gondola, it was quite busy. Since then, a new life has breathed into the ski hill."
Busy times anticipated
Other establishments even further away have benefited from the new gondola.
"Oh, boy, oh boy — it's going to be too busy. You know? It's going to be too busy," said Bricin Lyons, owner of Highlands Hostel in Cape North.
Lyons said he can tell by the traffic on the roads and people staying at his hostel that the area will be even busier next year.
"It's going to be too busy in the summer. It's going to be too busy in the winter. It's going to be too busy in the fall," he said.
Ski Cape Smokey is open seven days a week and the operators hope to stay open until April 30.
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