A HIGHLANDS mountain range resort, located seven miles from Fort William, has declared it is reaping the benefits of its move into the hospitality industry.

Nevis Range, which offers a wide range of mountain-based sports and activities - from skiing and snowboarding to biking and walking - has invested in a new hotel, restaurant, bar, and bike shop, helped by £1 million of funding from HSBC.

And it said the addition of the services, which also include conference and training facilities, has put it on course to turn over £5.6 million in its current financial year, £2m more than last time.

The resort said it also expects to return to profit.

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Nevis Range said the 26-bedroom Basecamp Hotel, which includes the Pinemarten Restaurant, has enjoyed an occupancy rate of 98 since opening on April 1, having greatly enhanced the provision of accommodation for tourists and outdoor sports enthusiasts in the area.

Employee numbers at the resort have increased by 33 per cent to 100 core members of staff.

Around 200,000 people visit Nevis Range each year for its range of activities and experiences, including its mountain gondola and bike hire.

Managing director Chris O’Brien said: “Being in such a rural area, the nearby town simply wasn’t built to cater for the amount of footfall that Nevis Range has been bringing to Fort William – and demand for our attractions has only been increasing. So we’re really excited to be able to offer visitors a place to stay and relax on their sporting adventures.

“The pandemic was tough on the leisure industry, but it gave us time to pause and revaluate our goals and business plan. Expanding further into the hospitality industry to improve our overall offering has been part of that plan and we’ve really valued HSBC UK’s support in helping to bring our vision to life.

“We’ll soon be hosting the UCI Cycling World Championships 2023 this August, inviting 400,000 spectators to Nevis Range, and we can’t wait to give visitors a taste of our brand-new services.”

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The developments look to have been a vital shot in the arm for the resort, which endured challenging conditions in its previous financial year.

In accounts for the year ended October 31, 2022, Mr O’Brien said its performance had been “notably impacted by adverse weather conditions, leading to a loss of £1,030,000”.

He stated: “Extreme wind speeds resulted in operational losses over 100 days, critically impacting February, our winter trading period, with only two available ski days. A record low in skiing availability was due to a combination of insufficient snow, high temperatures, and strong winds.”

Mr O'Brien added that during the period the resort had been “further burdened by inflation-induced increases in every operational cost we incur”.

He said: “Notably, despite selling shares in the Hydro business and securing a lifetime deal to receive a 35-40% of our power at a favourable rate, we faced significant price hikes for the remaining 60-65% of our energy requirements. Rising costs also impacted labour and project costs associated with the extensive expansion of Nevis Range facilities.”

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Despite the headwinds, Mr O’Brien declared in the accounts that the resort expects to return to profit this year.

He wrote: “In contrast to the challenges faced, the year was marked by significant strides in our development.

"Construction of a host of new facilities such as a hotel, bunkhouse, cocktail bar, bike shop, bike hire, conference and training facilities, exhibition area, and gift shop was our central focus. All of these facilities, constructed as sustainably as possible using a significant part of upcycled materials, will be fully operational by April 2023.”

Allan McGraw, relationship director at HSBC UK, said: “With its spectacular trails, views and the UK’s only mountain range gondola lift, Nevis Range is becoming a popular destination in the mountain sports scene.

"It’s fantastic to [see this] well-loved business explore new avenues and enter new territory as it works towards a future of growth and helping to bring adventure sports to more people.”