Tonight was a cold night for skiing, snowboarding, and tubing – but I went anyway… with 14 members of the Outdoor Adventure Club! We decided to make the trek to McIntyre Ski Area in Manchester, NH. Though none of us had ever been, we’d been searching for a local and relatively inexpensive place, and McIntyre seemed to fit the bill. (When you’re trying to get inner-city kids outdoors, price is always a concern!)
McIntyre Ski Area has a special deal, Skitubenboard, every Saturday from 3:30pm-9:30pm, that covers a lift ticket, rentals, and ski/snowboard lesson tips, for just $39. The group rates are even better, but require a minimum of 20 people.
The kids seemed to have a good time, even though the ski area is relatively small. There are four runs down from the top of the hill, three of which converge and run into one of the two bunny hills. Both bunny hills feature magic carpet lifts. The tubing area was solid, with six well-groomed lanes.
McIntyre is a good place for beginners. Some of our more experienced kids found the slopes a bit boring, but headed over to the terrain park to practice tricks. They were impressed with the options given the size of the mountain. The instructors on the mountain were very friendly, taking the time to give tips to the kids that needed help.
Most of the kids chose to do Skitubenboard because they wanted the option to both ski/snowboard and go tubing. However, I made a mistake when buying our lift tickets – two of the kids didn’t want to go tubing, they just needed lift tickets and rentals. Rather than just paying $39 for the Skitubenboard option, I spent $46 for a lift ticket and rental for each kid. It would have been smarter to just get those two kids a Skitubenboard pass! Especially because when one of them wanted to tube, she didn’t have the option.
I took her back to the ticket window to see if we could swap out her pass. We waited for 10 minutes for the manager because the girl working at the counter wasn’t “authorized to make the upgrade.” When the manager came, she smiled, and then said, “That’ll be $17.” I was shocked – clearly we’d already paid more for less. I responded that since we’d already paid $46 for a lift ticket and rental, and Skitubenboard was $39, couldn’t we just “downgrade.” She curtly answered, “That’s the best I can do.” I was blown away.
At that point, I was just angry. I don’t like being ripped off. She then asked, “Do you even have a receipt?” – essentially accusing me of lying. We had a valid pass in hand, and my kid was decked out in their rental gear. To me, it seemed like an easy fix, not a reason to accuse a customer of somehow swindling them. I did have the receipt, so I got it for the manager, and she finally made the exchange. I know I sound like an old lady, but I really dislike it when people who are much younger than me treat me so disrespectfully. Her actions alone will keep me, and the club, from coming back.
The night continued to get more awkward from there. You know when you’re in a restaurant, and even though closing time isn’t for another few hours, someone begins mopping the floor around you, banging into your chair and occasionally swabbing your feet? You can’t help but feel unwanted. 90 minutes before the lifts closed, the staff began cleaning the lodge. I don’t mean merely wiping down tables – they were all out scrubbing. The chairs were put on top of tables, even ones that had bags on them; they began vacuuming around us. We had to lift our feet. I finally called our bus driver and had him pick us up 45 minutes early.
Overall, though the kids enjoyed their experiences on the mountain, I was really unimpressed with the customer service component. We had such a positive experience at Pat’s Peak last year that I think we will return there next time. It’s more expensive because of the cost of travel, but it would be worth it given how well they treated us as customers. (Not to mention, there are triple the number of trails, and it’s a much bigger mountain.)
If you’ve got little ones, or inexperienced skiers and snowboarders, McIntyre is a decent option. The price is right, though make sure you check the website before you go to figure out your best pricing options – they certainly will not tell you if there’s a cheaper alternative when you’re purchasing lift tickets.