Bosses at the Cairngorm ski resort have submitted plans for a major revamp of the UK’s highest restaurant.
Applicants Cairngorm Mountain Ltd want to extend and redesign The Ptarmigan, located at about 3,600ft, to deal with seasonal challenges to create a year round, “world class” destination.
A supporting statement lodged with the plans says they want to attract more of the 1.2 million visitors which come to the Cairngorms National Park between May and November. The figure show that about 84,000 currently visit the mountain in this period.
They say the current operation provides a “limited summer experience” and the aim is to modernise the facilities and make visitors feel more like they are outside and on top of the mountain.
It also says that winters can be unreliable for snow and that this does not provide sustainable revenue for future investment in ski infrastructure.
But the Aviemore Business Association says the Ptarmigan plans will not bring additional numbers of people to Strathspey, and believes they should be focusing on improving and adding ski uplift given a “huge collapse” in the market share at CairnGorm Mountain in recent years.
The new planning application comes after controversial proposals were lodged by the operator last month for a £1.5 million artificial ski slope near the base station, aimed at beginner and intermediate level skiers.
In its Ptarmigan plans, the applicant describes the visitor experience into the current facility as “underwhelming” and that they want to design a building which will work in a hostile environment but improve its appearance in a unique setting.
The plans include an extension incorporating a large rooftop walkway and a wrap around, glass-fronted terrace which aims to improve views.
They also want to create an “enhanced” exhibition space to provide new audio visual experience, a larger cafe and bar space and a conference and function room and open the building up in the evenings to the public.
Better accessibility for visitors with limited mobility will also be a priority, by removing a “poor” surface on the viewing terrace and changing the main dining area which is currently on split levels.
Part of the supporting statement also refers to opportunities for introducing mountain biking in the ski area, as well as a zip wire. Feasibility studies have ruled them out as part of the current plans but the suggestion is that these activities could be revisited in the future.
The Ptarmigan extension application was validated by Highland Council’s planning department on May 4.