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Mt. Spokane lodge grows for visitors

Snow enthusiasts welcome staff-built addition at Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park

A new addition to Mt. Spokane’s ski lodge is giving powder hounds a new place to kick it between runs and the nonprofit business an opportunity to stay competitive in a region saturated with slopes.

The 3,000-square-foot space, spread out over two floors, features renovated garage and rental areas and a 100-seat lunch spot attached to the existing cafeteria.

General Manager Brad McQuarrie said he and a group of Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park employees built the expansion themselves using a $250,000 state grant.

The expansion adds about 30 percent more space and is the first major upgrade to the lodge facility, which was built in the 1960s.

“A lot of people grew up here, skiing here, learned to ski here, but haven’t seen significant improvements because it’s a nonprofit and it’s owned by state parks,” McQuarrie said. “There (aren’t) big pockets to dig into. It’s difficult to see improvements or make improvements.”

Guests noticed right away.

Sean Policani, who brought his 13-year-old son Jackson up the mountain Thursday for some winter break skiing, said there used to be several times during lunch when there was nowhere to sit and eat.

“There just wasn’t room to have everybody in there,” he said over a baked potato lunch in the new space.

With barely any elbow room before the addition, families with kids often spilled over into the bar area, he said.

“Mt. Spokane’s always been a family-oriented place,” Policani said. “This just gives families room to come participate in a great winter sport.”

McQuarrie knows skiers and snowboarders have several options for finding fresh powder. Other resorts like Schweitzer and Silver Mountain are destination points, attracting skiers from all over the world. If Mt. Spokane doesn’t give customers something new, he said, they can get bored and head for a different hill.

“It’s highly competitive for sure,” McQuarrie said. “We’re always trying to make improvements and new offerings and keep people excited.”

That excitement now might extend through all four seasons, he said, as the staff has already received inquiries from people interested in renting the space during the off-season.

With vaulted ceilings, a 1,500-square-foot patio and views of the hillside, Mt. Spokane regular Bethany Desrosiers said she is looking at the lodge as a venue for her July wedding. Her fiance frequented the mountain growing up and had the idea to have the ceremony at the summit. After seeing the addition, Desrosiers said they may consider having the ceremony and reception at Mt. Spokane.

“I like the light, the open (space), the ceiling, the porch,” she said.

McQuarrie, who handcrafted all the new tables in the addition, said feedback from customers has been positive. He hopes it translates to more business.

“If we get one or two more visits from people,” he said, “one more visit out of 70,000 people is a lot of visits.”