Manning Park Resort is closing indefinitely on April 1 due to financial hardship.
The Bowra Group took over management of the facility from Gibson Pass in 2009 when the resort went into receivership. Despite generating about $5 million in revenue annually, president David Bowra said the resort is no longer profitable, especially from April to June and October to December.
“You can lose more money in those two shoulder seasons than you can make in the operating seasons,” he said. “It’s a challenging operation to begin with. The resort is over 40 years old. So every winter we spend a lot of money trying to repair the ski lifts and every year it seems to cost more money.”
The Manning Provincial Park campgrounds will continue to operate along with the Lightning Lake day-use area, trails and backcountry areas. However, the ski areas, lodge, restaurant and pub will shut down on April 1. The company will then winterize the resort and liquidate the assets.
Seasonally the resort employs about 90 people in the winter and 80 in the summer. Bowra said 15 to 20 full-time employees will lose their jobs.
The Bowra Group has spent years searching for a prospective buyer. The inability to package the campground and resort operating agreements is making it difficult to sell. Another challenge is the resort’s somewhat remote location in a provincial park off Highway 3.
Bowra said the campground agreement expires this year and the province is putting the contract out to public bid. The resort is halfway through a 50-year operating agreement with the province.
“Realistically without the campground, it’s very difficult to make a buck at that resort,” he said. “I think it’s going to be uneconomical. However, we’re still hopeful that someone is going to come in and pick it up.”
Bowra feels the resort could be viable with a hands-on family-run approach, but the buyer would have to spend significant capital on upgrades.