Money will be spent on Cairngorm mountain facilities to try and offer more to visitors over the summer after a disastrous winter season, it has emerged.
Owners Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE) have a mountain to climb to rescue the business this year after a dismal winter with the funicular railway out of action, very little natural snow and the break-down of the artificial snow generator bought in for the lower slopes.
The company set up by HIE to run the mountain after previous tenants Natural Retreats went into administration late last year is CairnGorm Mountain Scotland Limited (CMSL) headed by Susan Smith.
She said a detailed business plan will be announced in June, but short-term plans will include investment in the cafe area to make it more welcoming, and moving the Cas Bar to the retail area.
An adventure play area including a zip wire, an Alpine coaster, mountain biking and tubing are also on the cards to attract families.
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The news came as HIE announced an award of £95,000 to Aviemore and Glenmore Community Trust (ACGT) to develop their bid to take over the running of the mountain within five years.
ACGT will use the funds for two new posts initially, a project manager and administrative officer, to develop detailed proposals for their bid.
ACGT director Mike Gale said he welcomed HIE’s immediate plans for the centre.
He said: “The mountain needs sensible investment and it will have to come from government.
“It hasn’t adapted in 20 years and needs to diversify as other resorts have.
“We are now seeing the community’s ideas being put into a plan, both with short term and long-term benefits.
“Everything from an Alpine coaster and mountain biking trails to changing the catering set up at the day lodge.
“The goal has always been to make the business sustainable for the future and the ideas and support from the community are only helping cement this for the future.”
The trust has long expressed frustration that the local community has not been listened to as they watched the ski centre decline in recent years with the removal of tow bars, the long-term breakdown of the funicular railway and the falling off in visitor numbers as skiers turned to other centres for a better experience.
Mr Gale said: “We’ve been told that catering has the potential to make up to £2m a year.
“The Alpine coaster would be an investment of around £1m, but it’s a real money maker as we see on the continent.”
“Things have changed a lots since Natural Retreats left.
“We find HIE are listening more to the local community and adopting some of our ideas.
“We feel we will get better negotiating terms if they are with us rather than against us.”