The new owners of the Holiday Mountain Ski Resort know they have their work cut out for them, but Paul and Renée Warkentin are confident they can and will bring new life to the well-known and long-running Manitoba ski hill.

“The place needs an incredible amount of work, and we knew that going in, but we felt we were up to the challenge so we went ahead,” Paul Warkentin said.

On Dec. 1, Paul and his wife Renée took over Holiday Mountain, a ski hill and resort in La Rivière, located about 167 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg, and they officially opened for business on Dec. 26.

The resort first opened in 1959, and very little upgrading has been done there in decades and according to Warkentin it needs work both structurally, and to bring it up to today’s standards for those who visit the resort and use its hills and its accommodations.

“There is a risk in taking on any new business, but we are entrepreneurs and we look at this as an opportunity to take something that is well-known but has basically been run into the ground and rejuvenate it, and bring it back to life,” he said.

Warkentin said he and his wife wanted to see the resort stay open, as they have a cottage in the area and realize how important Holiday Mountain has been to the region for decades, but after the business was shut down all winter last year because of drought conditions, there were fears that it could be shut down for good, pushing the couple to make a bid.

He added they didn’t just jump into the new business without figuring out what they would have to do to make it a success, and because of the condition of the place they don’t plan to turn a profit in year one.

“We’re not going to make money the first year, because the investment and the capital are so substantial,” he said. “But we do plan to be making money by the second year, and we plan to eventually have the whole resort fully renovated.”

He said they have already put in a lot of work, as after taking over they did renovations to areas like plumbing and electrical, and have also made major safety upgrades to the hill’s ski lifts.

They now plan to do full-scale renovations and upgrades to the resort’s ski hills as well as its bar, restaurant and ski rental areas, all of which Warkentin said were in various states of disrepair.

“We really want to make it so the people who have been coming for years won’t even recognize the place,” Warkentin said. “We have big plans and big ambitions for this.”

They also hope to make the resort a “family friendly” destination.

“We’re not going for that bar and party atmosphere,” he said. “This is going to be for families and for children to come and learn how to ski and for families to be active and together outside, just like it has been for years.”

With the couple opening for business on Boxing Day, Warkentin said they have already seen promising business and received positive feedback, which makes them optimistic about the future of Holiday Mountain.

“People are just so thankful this was able to stay open, we have had regulars calling and messaging us and thanking us, and we have had busy days on the slopes already so far,” he said.

“It been really well received and we have had overwhelming support, and we think it’s only going to get better.”

By Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jan 15, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from    The Sun    Winnipeg, Manitoba

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