Glencoe Mountain ski resort has risen from the flames of a devastating Christmas Day fire and is gearing up to a successful winter season – despite suffering £750,000 losses due to the Covid crisis.
However, owner Andy Meldrum has warned that any future lockdown over the ski season could end the business – and the loss of around 25 full time jobs.
Plans are well under way to construct a new restaurant to replace the one destroyed last year, with construction due to begin in the spring and hopefully completed by autumn.
As well as catering for snow sports enthusiasts, the resort provides a chairlift for tourists to reach the higher parts of the mountain, walking and biking excursions as well as tourist accommodation.
Mr Meldrum described his feelings of a “positive future”, despite the troubled past few months.
It was in the early hours of Christmas morning when the alarm was raised and fire crews rushed to a blaze at the base restaurant, working for 11 hours using nearby rivers to douse the flames.
The restaurant was gutted and has since been removed, with a temporary café being put in place for visitors and guests.
Mr Meldrum said: “We really need a good snow sport season to prepare to build the new restaurant. When you take in design and planning, with construction, the total cost will be around £1.5million. Insurance only covers about half of that, the cost of the building – not the additional costs.
“The end of last season could have been a phenomenal year as the first few months were storm-bound. In March we entered a period of pleasant, sunny weather with snow still on the slopes.
“But then lockdown happened. It cost us £750,000. We not only rely on ski-ing, but tourists all year round. We are on the West Highland Way and during the summer months rely on the tourist trade to bring in revenue.
“The temporary cafe has been helpful in keeping revenue coming and we have had guests taking up our accommodation.”
Mr Meldrum hopes the income from the coming snow sports season will go towards the new restaurant.
He said: “During the Covid pandemic we are best placed, as everyone visiting are socially distanced in the open air – which is usually breezy.
“Our biggest worry is if there is another lockdown. Any travel restrictions brought in then we would be out of the game.
“It is quite stark and worrying that people could be making decision we have no control over but could mean the business going under and staff losing jobs.
“But at the moment we are looking ahead, hoping for a good winter season and then building the restaurant and enjoying the next year.”
The resort is situated along the West Highland Way on Rannoch Moor and offers views of the iconic Buachaille Etive Mor.
Originally known as White Corries, Glencoe was the first commercial Scottish Ski Area with the construction of the first overhead ski lift on Meall A’Bhuiridh in 1956.
The onsite campsite boasts a large camping area, hook-ups and microlodges.
In summer the centre offers chairlift rides, mountain biking, tubing, hill-walking, climbing, photography and home-cooked food in the panoramic log cabin cafe.
In winter skiing, snowboarding, sledging and avalanche rescue training are available and the resort has both the longest and the steepest ski run in Scotland.