Fall 2018 Update & Lodge Improvements
What do you do in the off-season? It’s an often asked question here at Last Frontier Heliskiing. For those that are not familiar with our company, we operate two bases of operation. Bell 2 Lodge is where it all started with the first heliski season in 1996. We’ve built it up from humble beginnings and it operates year-round. In the Spring, Summer and Fall months, the lodge caters to travelers making their way to and from Alaska. Our hotel, campground, gas station, coffee shop, restaurant and gift shop provide essential services in one of the more remote parts of British Columbia. Over at Ripley Creek in Stewart, we own and operate the Bitter Creek Cafe [restaurant, kitchen, bar and gift shop]. Our guests stay in the Ripley Creek Inn, which is independently owned and operated. When we are not catering to heliski guests or summer tourism traffic, our team at Bell 2 Lodge is busy maintaining our facilities and making lodge improvements [more on that later].
Down in our Vernon, BC head office, a tightly knit crew take care of reservations, sales, marketing, financials and human resources. Last Frontier may be a small company, but our heliski customers visit us from all corners of the world. In our 2018 season we had guests from 27 different countries on six different continents. To attract guests from such a wide geographic reach, we have built up a network of tour operators, agents and ambassadors in many corners of the world. This means that for the majority of the year we are busy generating bookings for the upcoming seasons, managing reservations, working on marketing, operational and company wide plans. This ensures everything and everyone works together harmoniously to make make our guest experience as seamless as possible.
This Summer and Fall, Last Frontier had an exceptionally busy year. We created a General Manager position to oversee the day to day activities at Bell 2 Lodge and Ripley Creek. If you happen to visit, be sure to say hi to Peter Bridgeman who has been overseeing a number of capital projects in 2018 in this new GM role. While you may not see a lot of changes on the surface, we have prioritized our maintenance and facility upgrade program for Bell 2 Lodge. Ongoing investments are being made to improve our kitchen, lodge and chalet exteriors are being rejuvenated, some of our guest rooms have seen upgrades and our electrical and waste-water infrastructure is being upgraded. This is part of a bigger program that will see ongoing investment in buildings and infrastructure over the next few years with the goal of further enhancing the guest accommodation experience.
Heliski Operations Update
On top of facility maintenance and improvement, our Director of Operations Cliff Umpleby spent time up North this Summer to work on a number of projects to improve the heli skiing program for our 2019 winter season. We’ve invested in upgrades to our remote fueling infrastructure and have begun developing a new trail network around Bell 2 Lodge. While down days are rare [average of less than 1 per week], we are expanding our non-skiing activities to include Fat Biking this winter. These multi-purpose trails will also provide additional opportunities for nordic skiing and snowshoeing.
In the Summer of 2018, Last Frontier Heliskiing has also been exploring the feasibility of conducting some glading in our bad weather skiing terrain not far from Bell 2 Lodge. We anticipate that we will get approval for some limited tree cutting in our popular Red Flat skiing area in the summer of 2019.
In summary, the Last Frontier team is continuing to invest in facility improvements and maintenance, better managing our human capital and looking into ways to furthering our world class heli skiing program. Stay tuned for more updates.