British Columbia ski resort hopes to expand into golf

The owners of a small, struggling ski area just a short drive from Vancouver are thinking big – big enough to turn their property into a four-season destination chock full of world-class amenities, including a pair of 18-hole golf courses.
 
Ralph Berezan, the principal of Berezan Group, believes Hemlock Valley – it’s outside the town of Chehalis, about 80 miles east of Vancouver – can be one of the premier ski resorts in British Columbia. Never mind that the resort currently has just four lifts, 226 rooms for overnight guests, and 348 acres of ski terrain. Berezan wants the resort to grow to 23 lifts covering some 3,000 acres of ski terrain, with more than 1,200 hotel rooms, 800 condos, and 300 single-family houses. On a good day, he believes, a freshly imagined Hemlock Valley could accommodate as many as 13,440 skiers and snowboarders.
 
Of course, before Berezan can super-size Hemlock Valley, he needs to persuade government officials that bigger will be better. Several government agencies are currently evaluating his proposed master plan.
 
But it’s isn’t a stretch to believe that Berezan will win some hearts and minds, for most everyone in southern British Columbia understands that Hemlock Valley can’t survive as it currently stands. The resort has already gone bankrupt once, after which it fell into the lap of the province’s government. The province sold the resort to Berezan in 2006, reportedly for $3 million.
 
If Berezan’s master plan is approved, two of Hemlock Valley’s “neighborhoods” could eventually have golf courses. These neighborhoods will be developed as joint ventures with the Sts’ailes Indian Band, whose people originally lived on the land.
 
One course, potentially a tournament-worthy venue, would be part of Quqwathem Village, which is to take shape on a site adjacent to Harrison Lake. The village, which will reflect tribal architectural styles and offer sites for tribal businesses, will include hotels, a marina, restaurants, and a shopping area.
The other planned course is slated for Cottonwood Estates, a more traditional community that will overlook the lake. The master plan says Cottonwood will have low-density, resort-style houses, and the golf course could be Audubon certified.
 
In addition, Hemlock Valley will get a slew of amenities designed to attract both winter and summer vacationers. Several new villages full of stores and restaurants will be built, along with an all-season water park, a conference center, an equestrian center, a spa, and trails for mountain bikers.
 
But don’t expect any of it to be built anytime soon. The whole shebang is still in what a company official calls “the concept stage,” and shovels may not hit the ground for as many as five years. “It all depends on market conditions,” he says.
 

This story originally appeared in the World Edition of the Golf Course Report, in a slightly different form. For a sample copy of the World Edition, call 301/680-9460 or write to WorldEdition@aol.com. 

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