Interview: Ross Lawrence, The Remarkables Ski Area Manager on their new facilities
The Remarkables Upgrade was a $45 million project that was delivered in two stages, between ski seasons.
Stage one included the construction of Curvey Basin, a new 1.2km long six-seat chairlift, major earthworks to create new trails, landscaping, new carparks and the reshaping of the last 300m of the access road as well as installation of 27 new snow-making guns.
Stage two involved a new, architecturally designed, 5,800m2, three level base building modelled on the base building at Coronet Peak (also built by Arrow in 2009). The base building houses guest services, retail tenancies, gear rental, a snow sport school and an extensive café and restaurant. With the additional 1,301m2 deck, providing the perfect platform to take in the breath-taking views, envelops the building.
At 1,600m above sea level, snow is guaranteed every month of the year. Working in an extreme weather environment, together with finite timeframes, provided more than its fair share of challenges, but strong relationships were key to delivering the project in this operational environment.
We talked to Ross Lawrence, The Remarkables Ski Area Manager for NZSki after Stage One was completed to find out how he was finding the upgrade…
Q. This exciting project has been 5 years in the making – how has the journey been for you?
Ross: It’s been great having someone running the program and keeping it all on task. Our board are very passionate and involved in the business so they wanted to invest time in their decisions to ensure they were the right ones. This created some challenges and delays for the project team but they were great at keeping them to time.
Q: Has the project met all the goals you set out to achieve?
Ross: Yes – the new lift has been a total success; it’s great to see it come to fruition after five years. It’s met all our targets for revenue as well as use of terrain, spread on the hill and the incline for skiers and boarders. The investment in snow making has also been successful. There was a lot of theory about where to put the guns to maximise the production of on-trail snow and it’s always a gamble, but I think we nailed it!
Q: The new base building sound very exciting, how will that change things up here?
Ross: The new base building is being modelled on the one at Coronet [that Arrow delivered in 2009]. It will enable us to maximise our appeal to local and international visitors, expand our kids program, provide a great on-site medical facility and make chilling out that much more enjoyable. Coronet has been a great example of how to maximise your assets and now between us we have the potential to really grow the market to Queenstown.
“I’m also excited about the new base building, it will be great to have a bigger, better and more fun office to work in”.
Mo Rush, Head of Department, Administration
“The biggest challenge has been working at altitude in challenging conditions – its freezing up there at times, even during the summer” says Senior Project Manager Glenn Carter. “Coming from the UK I’m not as hardy as the local lads”. Glenn also said that working closely with NZSki to ensure they get the biggest bang for their buck has been key to the success of the project. “This is not always easy due to the projects location which is within a highly sensitive area which is controlled by DoC who have monitored the works very closely”.
Curvey Basin lift: 1.2km long
39 new snow guns
1.6km of new trails
New lift capacity up to 2,400 people an hour
300m of road realignment
New car parks
New base building to be built for 2015 season.
Trying to remove the snow during the base buildings construction