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Places & Faces: Cypress Mountain

Articles Places & Faces

The things that I noticed immediately about Cypress is perhaps a part reflection of my Dodge V8 rope tow upbringing.  The fantastic highway that leads into Cypress is a dream.  The four snowplows I passed on the 20 minute drive to the ski area was even better.  Cypress, along with its North Shore brethren, has an immense capacity to create new skiers and snowboarders.  They exist within minutes of 2.4 million people.  I was intensely intrigued.

One of the most notable features of Cypress is its base location at the bottom of two opposing slopes. This allows the ski area to funnel all skiers and snowboarders through one of two gates. This removes the need for multiple ticket checkers at the lift maze. It also provides an opportunity to clearly communicate liability and responsibility expectations to everyone on the slopes.

The first thing one sees and walks past after leaving ones vehicle in the parking lot is a high profile Alpine Responsibility Code sign at the entrance to the base area.  Cypress has done an exceptional job of clearly communicating expectations.  In addition to the clarity and frequency of signage, is also the crisp and clean nature of the signs with strong positioning and construction.  It is very professional. 

Ticket windows are clearly marked with signage.

The visit to Cypress was a two part visit. First, it was to meet the Cypress team. Bobby Swain (head of table) has been at Cypress for 32 years. For some reason I was surprised to learn he first started in F&B, but has since worked in all aspects of the Cypress ski operation. Bad for us, but good for him, Bobby is supposedly retiring this year, though he will consult. The rumour must be true because to is left is his replacement – Russell Chamberlain – most recently from the sports entertainment world. And competing the Cypress delegation, Steve and Rick, who are well known faces within CWSAA and whose tenure is counted in decades. The second reason for the meeting at Cypress was an introduction to Janice Lee, Director, and Nav Chahal, acting manager for ropeways, at BC Safety Authority. Nav has moved from the elevating division. Janice, Nav, and Christopher worked out a framework for some of the upcoming spring conference meetings and presentations. CWSAA is also appreciative of BCSA’s continued sponsorship of the spring conference.  It should also be said that Nav and Janice drive through Vancouver rush hour traffic in a wild snowstorm to be at the meeting.  It definitely earned street cred at the table.

Cypress introduced a smoke-free environment this year and has been well received by visitors.

Cypress has park features from the top to the bottom of its vertical drop.

The load and unload lift stations have plastic slats that kept the platforms level and reduced the amount of shaving and shoveling required by staff.

Cypress has a ‘remove backpack’ policy on its lifts. And clearly communicates height restrictions and non-smoking policy.

Our visit was just ahead of the BC Family Day weekend that Cypress actively celebrates.

Cypress also operates a tubing and nordic facility. The nordic area is known to many as Holyburn.  It is about 1 km from the alpine base, and is serviced from a separate parking lot. The tube park offered some good suggestions on footwear, including the fact that it could be rented.

Cypress introduced tube park automated lift ticket kiosks that they acquired from a parking meter supplier. The machines solved a problem of guests arriving in the parking lot and walking to the tube park, only to then realise they needed a ticket from the window. The ticket machines avoided guests doubling back on their tracks and increased the efficiency of the traffic flow.

Backcountry access is well signed from the nordic parking lot.

Most ski areas must recruit 12 months a year. It is the single biggest challenge for our industry. Cypress effectively communicates on-going interviews with a large sandwich board outside the high volume ticket window area. Great idea and very effective.

 

Cypress recently built a new lodge that houses all its guest services.

Beautiful First Nations art and a quote by Olympian Shaun White recognise the area’s history.

Aerial view of the daylodge main level.

A robust recycling programme is evident throughout the lodge. The signs were particularly effective with 3D effect.

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