Most recent clients:
- Blow Me Down Trails, Newfoundland
- Bridger Ski Foundation, Montana
- Calgary Ski Club, Alberta
- City of Steamboat Springs, Colorado
- Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Colorado
- Crested Butte Nordic Council, Colorado
- Dixie National Forest, Utah
- Eggshells in the Coffee, Colorado (guest ranch seminars)
- Greylock Glen Outdoor Recreation and Environmental Education Center, Massachusetts
- Lodge at Jackson Fork Ranch, Wyoming
- Menihek Nordic Ski Club, Newfoundland
- Methow Valley Sport Trails Association (now Methow Trails), Washington
- Montana Governor’s Conference on Tourism & Recreation
- Moonlight Basin, Montana
- Snowsports Industries America
- Telluride Nordic Council, Colorado
- Three Forks Ranch, Colorado
- Town of Breckenridge, Colorado
- Triangle C Ranch, Wyoming
- Whistler Olympic Park, British Columbia
- Wind River Ranch, Colorado
Types of clients:
- Cross-country ski areas (day, overnight, destination)
- Guest/dude ranches
- Golf courses
- Real estate projects
- Four-season resorts
- Alpine ski areas
- Non-profit trails organizations
- Private landowners
- Corporate landowners
- Ski clubs
- Utility companies
- Inns, lodges, and B&Bs
- Backcountry winter operations/guide services
- Federal, state, provincial, and local lands agencies
- Tourism/travel entities
- Ski industry organizations
- Ski product suppliers
- Ski retailers
- Snowcat manufacturers
- Custom travel planners
- Travel agencies and shows, tour operators
- Ski shows
- College ski operations programs
Nordic Group International has worked on projects that include full-service resort and park master plans, regional trail and tourism studies, golf courses, guest ranches, family businesses, and more. Selected project descriptions follow:
Algoma/Sault Ste. Marie
NGI planned several stages of growth under the auspices of the Economic Development offices for the City of Sault Ste. Marie and the Southern Algoma Tourism Region. A market assessment evaluated the viability of Nordic skiing as a major component of the area’s winter tourism menu. The project included a phased Master Plan and Development Plan for a sub-regional network of multi-season trails. This included linkages with residential areas, schools, businesses, and trail services. These connections became a catalyst for developing community support and tourism appeal for the network.
Blow Me Down Trails
The team of Nordic Group International, SE Group, and Samyn-D’Elia Architects completed a Master Plan for renovations to Newfoundland’s Blow Me Down Ski Club’s trails and facilities. The plan detailed the concepts for a new eco-focused, multi-functional ski lodge, a renovated base area and signage system, improvements to the stadium, lighting, and biathlon system, and recommendations for trail and operations enhancement systems. A key objective was to recommend trail upgrades that would allow year-round use of the trails and buildings, as increasing use was over-taxing facilities.
Bridger Ski Foundation
Working in conjunction with SE Group, NGI provided a detailed Strategic Business Plan for the Bridger Ski Foundation’s Community Nordic Trails Program in Bozeman. Research included physical, market, and financial data in order to formulate strategies, recommendations, and actions for growth of cross-country skiing in the Bozeman locale. Intent was to secure the future of Nordic ski trails in town via more permanent use agreements, while also considering existing and potential sites within 15 miles of the city; and to secure the viability of the community Nordic ski trails program, including increasing community goodwill and funding sources. The study included a 47-question community-wide survey.
Calgary Ski Club
John Frado worked with the Calgary Ski Club and CHS Snowmakers to assess potential for making snow on 3-5 km of trail and two instructional terrain gardens, on the city’s Shaganappi Golf Course. After discussions with various city departments, a snowmaking system was designed that is expected to use a combination of airless and semi-airless guns, coordinated with strategically placed water supply sites, portable pumps and generators, and an irrigation pipe and firehose distribution system.
Crested Butte Nordic Council
NGI conducted an assessment of the Nordic elements and potentials in the Crested Butte Valley and associated drainages. The ensuing report covered issues, hurdles, and diverse points of view regarding the role of an expanded Nordic focus. Attention to connecting trail corridors was driven by important tourism-enhancement benefits that would result from uniting disparate trail zones to create a critical mass for target market appeal. Elements discussed included pros and cons of the existing Nordic Center building, current trail networks and potential connectors, motorized use issues, as well as community support and the need for more trails, better trails, and more sophisticated trailside services. NGI also proposed a series of short-term actions, ranging from staffing to facilities, marketing to signage.
Devil’s Thumb Ranch
Devil’s Thumb is a diverse 6,000-acre four-season guest ranch with a major Nordic operation (100 kilometer trail network). They retained NGI’s Jonathan Wiesel to expand and refine winter operations as well as to evaluate facilities. The project included creating development priorities as the land base tripled in size; coordinating facility and trail expansion; building marketing partnerships; developing new programs; and pricing services. In 2016, USA Today selected the ranch as one of North America’s Top 5 cross-country ski resorts.
NGI completed a Master Plan for this remote historic lodge in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. The project’s aim was to facilitate the lodge’s sale and secure its future as a high-quality, non-motorized, trails-driven resort.
We addressed opportunities for interim enhancement and/or phased replacement of existing facilities. Development concepts required meshing with U.S. Forest Service goals as well as meeting extensive environmental and interest group concerns. Sun Valley tourism and cost-effective multi-season operations were also major considerations. Recommendations included intra-regional trails, shuttle systems, strategic trailheads, and establishment of a regional trails association, much of which has been instituted.
Nordic Group developed a comprehensive trails Master Plan for Canada’s ‘Capital Park.’ We created inventory and analysis models for an assessment of Gatineau’s 400-kilometer trail network, and then designed specifications and operations recommendations that helped create a detailed blueprint for phased advancement of objectives.
Multi-season trail uses were correlated with trail character and qualities, natural resource impacts, economic implications, park objectives, and trail user requirements. Project recommendations included development of a hierarchy of trails, trail hubs, and peripheral trail services (public and private); and introduction of Canada’s first trails-use/parking fee (to facilitate funding development and operations).
Gatineau consistently has had the highest number of cross-country skier visits of any area in North America.
Great Glen Trails
This 1,100-acre parcel was part of a privately-owned operations base for the Mount Washington Summit Road Company. The Glen sits in the heart of the scenic Pinkham Notch corridor and is surrounded by the White Mountain National Forest.
John Frado’s unique planning solution resulted in the sale of 900 acres to the U.S. Forest Service, with rights reserved to build a 40-kilometer Class-1 trail system and associated support facilities. The remaining 200+ acres were retained for developing core services including a trails lodge, ponds, warm-up loops, terrain gardens, snowmaking, and trailside cabins. The Trails Park was designed as a profit center that – in conjunction with the Auto Road – would also leverage investment for a resort hotel, conference center, and White Mountain museum.
Local communities have bonded in the process of developing cross-forest trail connections with Great Glen. Future partnerships can build regional tourism and reduce the need for intensive trail development within the Glen itself.
This project was an update of the original Heritage-Greylock concept of the 1980s, where Nordic Group served as lead recreation consultant. John Frado’s revamped plans called for a resort with conference/outdoor center as the focus of sustainable economic development under the auspices of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management. More recent concepts included a four-season, state-of-the-art, non-motorized trail system (40+ kilometers) as a major component, integrated with an 18-hole championship golf course. Ultimate build-out anticipated snowmaking for several terrain gardens (20+ acres) and 10+ kilometers of snow-made cross-country ski trails.
Howelsen Emerald Mountain Park
NGI was retained by the City of Steamboat Springs to carry out a feasibility study for a world-class Nordic Center on Emerald Mountain, abutting the town. Asked to determine whether the Nordic project was viable and what components and scale would be necessary to make the concept workable, the study evolved into evaluating potential for a world-class multi-season Trails Park. The report evaluated pros and cons of trails-based development, concluding that the area offers extraordinary multi-season recreation potential, benefiting the Steamboat Springs community while at the same time creating a financially self-sustaining tourism magnet.
Jackson Hole Visitors Council
NGI evaluated the results of a national advertising campaign for the Jackson Hole region. Our report determined why travelers did or did not visit in winter, either as independent vacationers or booking through travel agents. The project also evaluated the effectiveness of advertising on travel agent attitudes toward Jackson Hole and on public perceptions of the region.
This project required a Master Plan for the phased replacement of a 1920s motel/lodge complex with a full-service, trails-driven resort. The existing lodge (located in the Kaibab National Forest) is the only travelers’ facility on a 40-mile dead-end parkway that accesses National Park facilities on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Environmental constraints eliminated the possibility of facility expansion at the Rim, while overzealous timber harvest on the abutting National Forest pushed U.S.F.S. management toward greater accommodation with tourism.
NGI’s Master Plan focused on developing inter-agency and private partnerships that would create tourism services on the National Forest. The concept included higher-quality lodging, camping, interpretive and recreation programs, and trails. A 60-kilometer, non-motorized, year-round trail network would include several shelters (yurts) and connect the lodge to the nearby Arizona Trail, as well as several key trails into the Canyon. Snowcat shuttle services would provide winter access into the lodge (25 miles) for cross-country skiers.
Lone Mountain Ranch
NGI evaluated the recreational infrastructure and program performance of this world-famous guest ranch, including the relationship of its trail system (horse, mountain bike, hike, cross-country ski) to the communities and businesses of surrounding Big Sky. Our study assessed performance and existing strategies within the context of projected consumer trends as well as land-use, growth, and environmental issues. The final report made recommendations for enhancements and expansions to ranch infrastructure and defined strategies to secure ranch assets, signature community qualities, and regional tourism performance.
Menihek Nordic Ski Club
NGI was retained by Menihek Nordic Ski Club and landowner Iron Ore Company of Canada to assess the impact of IOC’s planned new ore conveyer route on the ski club’s famous trail system and the Labrador City community. Concluding that the conveyor and associated mining would have a major and possibly terminal effect on the existing system, Nordic Group provided alternate routing, together with detailed trail construction guidelines and cost estimates. Longer-term, NGI made recommendations for refining operations and for master plan considerations for stakeholders if the base and trail system need to be moved to a different site.
Methow Valley Sport Trails Association
Methow Valley Sport Trails Association (MVSTA – now Methow Trails) requested that NGI create a Winter Marketing Plan for one of the most extensive and sophisticated trail networks in North America. Jonathan Wiesel’s sweeping but practical report covered not just familiar elements such as advertising and publicity but also evolving markets, developing a “marketing mindset,” current and potential local attractions, how to build midweek and group business, an evaluation of current marketing materials, and budgeting. The document also provided a multi-year Action Plan.
Moonlight Basin retained NGI to provide an introduction to Nordic ski operations, especially markets, and then to produce a detailed summary of Nordic potential (both pros and cons). This included the charisma and location of a proposed major multi-season Trails Center, supported by an initial 25 km of groomed routes; trail design priorities and layout; and anticipated costs and time-frame for trail construction. Constraints included development pods and wetlands.
The report incorporated an evaluation of site character; ways to make the Nordic element a signature component of the resort; an analysis of state-of-the-art trail construction methods, specs, and sequence; and recommendations for sustainable design and “green” construction as well as winter operations, particularly grooming and trail maintenance.
Mt. Bachelor Ski & Summer Resort
NGI was requested to conduct a development plan assessment at this major alpine/cross-country day ski area near Bend. Our report presented an industry overview, site evaluation and recommendations, and various development scenarios. Sub-topics included competition, management priorities, marketing, and expansion potential.
Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Complex
John Frado planned, designed, supervised construction, and managed operations of major multi-season, multi-use recreational facilities for Northeast Utilities. This included picnic areas, campgrounds, portage trails, interpretive trails, wildlife management areas, interpretive riverboat trips, recreation skills and environmental education programs, a visitor/program center, and a 40-kilometer multi-use, non-motorized trail system. Northfield was awarded National Recreation Trails status in 1979.
Tamarack is the first new four-season ski resort in the U.S. in more than 20 years. Jonathan Wiesel worked to create and refine a major cross-country ski operation coordinated with multi-season recreation (alpine skiing, golf, mountain biking) and especially real estate development.
Responsibilities included network layout, risk management evaluation, staff training, program development, marketing, grooming machinery selection, operations evaluation, and potential trail links to nearby communities. The project included plans for lighting five kilometers of snowmaking for Nordic trails.
Three Forks Ranch
Jonathan Wiesel conducted a Nordic evaluation for this new ranch near Steamboat Springs. The assessment concluded that the extensive ranch would work best in all seasons as a small, specialized, and luxurious operation – elegant, high end, with very high service. It recommended that Three Forks establish unique market niches in order to be successful in winter, promoting the property as an exclusive, all-inclusive accommodations/activities package that embraces a gamut of on-site recreation (cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing), plus nearby downhill skiing.
Town of Breckenridge
The Town of Breckenridge commissioned NGI to evaluate potential for Nordic trails and facilities within the Golden Horseshoe, an extensive and controversial (motorized vs. non-motorized) area adjoining the existing Nordic/golf operation at Gold Run. Assessment elements included natural and historical features as well as trails, roads, and multiple land ownerships, together with current backcountry guidelines and uses. The report concluded that despite complexities, and with the Town of Breckenridge as lead agency, the Golden Horseshoe can sustain substantial non-motorized trails infrastructure, together with a lower level of motorized use. NGI also recommended that a Master Plan be initiated for multi-season/multiple-use trails and facilities, with infrastructural phases initiated by performance triggers.
Whistler Olympic Park
Whistler Sport Legacies retained SE Group and Nordic Group International to undertake an analysis of successful Nordic ski operations and business models that can be considered for the future operation of Whistler Olympic Park (WOP), in order to provide a better understanding of how the “legacy” operation can sustain itself in the future. The consultants were asked to identify elements such as emerging Nordic facility trends in North America; how WOP is positioned from an operations/business perspective; operations models; and challenges and success factors at post-Olympic Nordic centers. Ultimately, SEG and NGI utilized a SWOT approach to what has worked elsewhere and can work at WOP.
Whatever the type or scale of project, Nordic Group International’s primary aims are to make the product successful and the process as simple (and enjoyable) as possible. We’d like to thank the clients who make consulting such a pleasure – and for their kind words below.
Multi-season trails/operations testimonials
“What is it that distinguishes Nordic Group from other consulting groups? I believe it is your ability to be thoroughly professional experts in your field and real people at the same time. No pretenses here, only seasoned experts.”
Gary Schiff, Director of Planning
Heritage Greylock, MA
“We have been working with Jonathan Wiesel of Nordic Group International on a complex recreation/real estate project, and we’re impressed by his professionalism, pragmatism, and sense of humor. Nordic Group demonstrates a wide-ranging knowledge of trail-based recreation as well as planning issues.”
Dick Prugh, Co-owner
Prugh & Lenon Architects, MT
“Nordic Group International did a super job of showing us how to turn a historic summer lodge in National Forest land into a virtually year-around resort and Nordic center. Your master planning concepts and presentations were excellent, attractive, and very professional. We thank you!”
Gaylord and Joy Staveley, Owners
“Nordic Group’s recreation facility designs reflect the firm’s sensitivity for the natural environment and their experience in every aspect of recreation area development and operations.”
Gary Briere, Project Manager
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management, MA
“I have confidence in Nordic Group International’s professional skills, creative ‘imagineering,’ knowledge of the industry and their ability to develop a useful product. They worked well with my management staff and assured ‘ownership’ by involving them in the planning process. They produced a blueprint for the future that has helped guide us through some very challenging growth.”
Bob Schaap, President
Lone Mountain Ranch, MT
“Nordic Group’s Galena Lodge presentation is a tremendous example of how to develop a project and then persuade the environmental community to buy in. John Frado spoke of trails as an ‘art form’ and included concepts and ideas that ‘normal’ developers would have left out. Because you are very environmentally concerned yourself, you were able to address the concerns of those in the community who are environmentally aware and deeply motivated.”
Office of Idaho’s U.S. Senator James McClure
“Working with NGI brought a level of creativity and candor to our project that was unexpected. John and Jonathan are honest, funny, smart, and most importantly, great teachers. I have become better at my job through working with them, and was impressed by their ability to accept a challenge.”
Planning and Development
Moonlight Basin, MT
Winter trails/operations testimonials
“Mr. Wiesel is credited with establishing much of the organization structure for Cross Country Ski Areas Association across North America. In addition, his promotional efforts on CCSAA’s behalf are largely responsible for our 200-member strong organization.”
Chris Frado, former Executive Director
Cross Country Ski Areas Association, NH
“Thanks for your stellar initial assessment of Nordic skiing here in Crested Butte. Your report included excellent recommendations and great ideas for improving our operations and product.”
Keith Bauer, Executive Director
Crested Butte Nordic Center, CO
“Jonathan Wiesel is unique in the Nordic community in that he approaches what is needed from the user’s viewpoint. With his guidance, Tamarack is planning a comprehensive Nordic facility with a varied trail network that will appeal to all levels of skiers but especially to the destination Nordic enthusiast. He is a thorough planner who meets deadlines and understands budgetary constraints. Jonathan truly understands the facilities and services that appeal to the broad based Nordic market. He is able to differentiate between the needs of the recreational and competitive markets and to identify what is commercially viable.”
David Scott, Vice President
Tamarack Resort, ID
“The area’s trail network was designed by the Robert Trent Jones of cross-country, Jonathan Wiesel. This is the kind of ski operation we desperately need near major metropolitan areas.”
Casey Sheahan, Editor
Ski Business Magazine, NY
“Nordic Group International is the foremost consulting firm in their field in North America.”
International Aerial Lift Review
“Jonathan’s perspective about what a cross-country skiing and outdoor recreation resort can be has helped me, a novice at owning a cross-country ski center, tremendously. Being able to tap his experience with all the resorts he has seen, has helped me make all kinds of decisions and make them more confidently… He brings so much to the table from so many different points of view: operator, marketer, customer, owner.”
Peter Foley, Owner
Viking Nordic Center, VT
“Teton Ridge Ranch had the good fortune to employ Nordic Group International to upgrade our homemade cross country ski operation as a revenue enhancer for our very successful summer guest ranch. Our fortunes doubled in that we had the opportunity to work with Jon Wiesel, as engaging a persona as a non-Nordic skier could wish for. Jon designed our trails from scratch and has returned to supervise their construction during the summer. He named many of the runs and we followed his suggestions for signage. He provided the job description for our guide-instructor and helped in the final selection of the individual we hired. In addition he guided us through the facts and figures which would be most useful in our operation and pricing. Our first year exceeded our objectives and we fully expect to turn a healthy profit in the future.”
Albert Tilt, Co-owner/General Manager
Teton Ridge Ranch, ID
“Thank you for addressing our concerns in such great depth. The valuable information and advice you have provided will certainly be incorporated into the resort Development Plan.”
David Marsh, President
Mt. Bachelor Ski & Summer Resort, OR
“Thanks for putting together one of the best marketing tools I’ve seen in the industry. Your Ski Area Survey is a tremendous insight into cross-country ski operations.”
Cross-Country Product Manager
Rossignol Ski Company, VT
“Having a marketing plan from NGI has moved us from scheming and dreaming to strategic action. Developing the plan with Jonathan has allowed us to get more thoughtful and focused about our marketing goals (not to mention our mission!), and now we are confidently working our way through a clear action plan, building relationships and economic growth with less energy expended. The resources and contacts that Jonathan provided us with, based on our unique marketing goals, will be indispensable as we move forward.”
Danica Kaufman, Development Director
Methow Valley Sport Trails Association, WA
“Based on our experience, Nordic Group International is superbly qualified to market winter recreation – not just cross-country or alpine skiing but the whole gamut of snow-related entertainment. They combine practical background in resort operations with ability to network with every element of the travel industry.”
Bill Bryan, Co-owner
Off The Beaten Path, MT
“It was great to have this information coming from [Jonathan Wiesel] who understands our quirky [guest ranch] industry. So many PR and marketing seminars haven’t taken the time to research how it would relate to this specific group of people.”
Yancey Atterburn, General Manager
Lone Mountain Ranch, MT
“Nordic Group provided a detailed, honest assessment based on a wealth of unique industry experience. Their analysis helped provide a focused direction for our winter marketing efforts and helped us refine our operational strategy to improve our appeal to the Nordic community.”
David Brock, General Manager
Jackson Fork Lodge, WY
“Jonathan’s easy-going style, combined with his extensive knowledge and experience with guest ranches, give me the confidence to say, ‘Hey, I can do this.’”
Eggshells in the Coffee
Ranch seminar participant
“The cross country ski familiarization tour was a success, and thanks to your assistance, it looks like we will see a long string of articles as a result over the next few years! The writers were able to participate in cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snowcoaching, wildlife viewing, and hot springs soaking. I will forward copies of stories as they appear, which could be spread over a period of up to three years. Thank you, and I look forward to working with you again.”
Margaret Karas, Administrator
Yellowstone Country tourism region, MT