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Ski season provides much needed boost for Whitefish economy

Big Mtn
Posted at 7:09 AM, Dec 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-09 11:00:26-05

WHITEFISH - Opening day on Thursday at Whitefish Mountain Resort means another busy season has begun in downtown Whitefish as hotels, bars and restaurants see an uptick in visitors.

“We’re seen by many as a summertime resort, certainly that’s when we just run full tilt, the last couple months have been what we call our off-season, you know our slow season, but things kick back into gear again this week,” said Whitefish Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kevin Gartland.

Gartland says it’s always a welcoming sight to see Whitefish Mountain Resort up and running for the ski season, attracting visitors from around the world.

“Our hotels, restaurants and retailers depend on all those skiers who are coming to Whitefish to ski for two, three, four, seven days, and that’s what we’re really looking forward to this year,” added Gartland.

Edna White — Director of Sales and Marketing for Averill Hospitalities working for both Whitefish Lake Lodge and the Firebrand Hotel — says skiers and snowboarders make up the majority of guests during the winter months.

“Well, the significance of first day of ski season is really the kickoff of winter and when we start to see a lot more visitors in the area, we have a lot of skiers here at the lodge and we have a lot of visitors that come specifically for that purpose as well,” says White.

Gartland says a strong snow season goes a long way in boosting the local economy, attracting visitors to enjoy downtown and stay overnight.

“In the shoulder season they’re running 20-30% occupancy, in the summertime they run 100% occupancy, if we did not have the resort there to attract folks to our area — if we didn’t have that attraction they would be running in the low digits let me assure you, so it’s critical that we have a good snow season in terms of snow on the mountain and in terms of skiers as well,” said Gartland.