Canadians Discover Sandpoint
Written December 21, 2011 by Hendricks Architecture: Tom Russell, Architect LEED AP • Filed Under North Idaho
, Resort Areas
This past summer in Sandpoint seemed busier than it has been in several years. It seemed like every time I went downtown or to City Beach there were always a lot of people out enjoying the great summer weather, and my sense is that many of them were visitors from elsewhere. Sandpoint’s population is always boosted in the summer by the many lakefront and vacation home owners that claim this area as their “home away from home”, and tourism has been steadily increasing in response to all the good press the area has been getting.
Sandpoint Evening (Canadian Selkirk Mountains in Far Right Background)
Recent examples in a long list of “best of” awards are Sandpoint’s designation as the “Most beautiful small town in America” and Schweitzer Mountain Resort’s selection as Ski Magazine editor’s pick as the “Best Kept Secret”. Sandpoint’s charm has not gone unnoticed, especially among our neighbors to the North. The number of Canadian license plates in town has increased significantly in the last few years, and this trend has been a big benefit to local business owners. Canadians have brought a welcome surge in commerce that has helped many businesses stay afloat in tough economic times.
The Pend Oreille River from Sandpoint's Long Bridge
Apparently some Canadians have recognized that there is a lot of value in the local real estate market. North Idaho has experienced a surge in vacation home and investment property purchases by Canadian citizens, with some choosing North Idaho as a place to retire. It’s no secret that property values are low almost everywhere in the U.S., and there are great deals out there for anyone with a bit of liquidity and a positive vision of the future. In Sandpoint, we are lucky to be less than an hour from the Canadian border and a short days drive from Calgary and other population centers in Southern Alberta. Oil and gas exploration has really taken off in Southern Alberta, and the economy there is much better off than in most areas of the United States.
Sunrise over Lake Pend Oreille (from an Owner's Lot on Garfield Bay)
Canadians visiting the US also benefit from lower prices on goods and services here, most notably gasoline and building materials. Currency exchange rates are also favorable for Canadians, though they are down a bit from a historic high in March of 2009. I remember only about 10 years ago the situation was opposite, and shopping trips or vacations to Canada were a great way to get a lot for the American dollar. Southern B.C., Alberta, and the National Parks of the Canadian Rockies are still very popular vacation spots for North Idaho residents, and most vacations I hear about involve outdoor enthusiasts enjoying Canada’s natural treasures and great skiing.
Canada's Waterton Lakes National Park
In Sandpoint, everyone I know is glad to see that our neighbors to the north are frequenting North Idaho and discovering how much this area has to offer. We are finding that they make great neighbors, clients, and friends. When I visit Canada, I never really feel like I am in a different country, and I suspect Canadians feel the same here. To acknowledge our kinship with Canada, Schweitzer Mountain has adopted Whitewater resort near Nelson, B.C. as its Canadian sister, and is offering Whitewater pass holders free skiing if they stay in any of the resort owned accommodations.
Anyone visiting Sandpoint, Canadian or otherwise, is welcome to stop in and see our portfolio of beautiful mountain homes. We speak fluent Canadian, and would love to talk to you about designing your new mountain home.
Hendricks Architecture specializes in the design of timber mountain style homes and cabins. Most of the homes we’ve completed are in mountain resort areas throughout the West. If you are interested in a mountain home, or you have any other inquiries, please contact us.
Tom Russell, Architect LEED AP
Previous Post: Schweitzer Opens Early
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Schweitzer Opens Early
Written December 3, 2011 by John Hendricks, Architect AIA • Filed Under North Idaho
, Resort Areas
Inland Northwest skiers & snowboarders got an early treat this year when Schweitzer Mountain Resort opened the weekend before Thanksgiving. It is considered to be a good year if they are able to open on Thanksgiving weekend, and that happens roughly 50% of the time. This season was looking kind of weak for early season snow, though it was cold enough that the conditions were good for making snow. Everyone had their fingers crossed, and mother nature delivered some mid November storms that made for excellent early season conditions.
Schweitzer Bowl - The front of the mountain
Opening day at Schweitzer was November 19th, and even though the terrain was limited the conditions were great. There was even some fresh snow to get everyone excited! Schweitzer closed again during the week, with a promise to reopen the day after Thanksgiving. The big surprise came a few days before Thanksgiving – a two day storm event that dumped several feet of heavy, wet snow and provided excellent coverage on the entire mountain. A few days later temperatures cooled down, 8” of light snow fell, and the day after Thanksgiving looked like a mid-winter powder day. A lot of the front side was open, conditions were excellent, and everyone was smiling!
This Schweitzer fan showed up a few days before opening day to avoid the crowds.
From what I have seen on other ski area websites, we have about the best conditions in the country right now. The Lake Tahoe region (Kirkwood, Squaw Valley and Heavenly Valley) has very little snow, Alta and Telluride are reporting less than a 30” base, and the central Colorado areas of Vail, Aspen, and Summit County are all hurting for snow. Even further north in Sun Valley and Big Sky, snow depths are thin and the ski resorts are barely open.
Closer to Sandpoint, Whitefish Mountain Resort had to cancel plans to open the first week in December due to lack of snow. 49 Degrees North is open and has almost as much snow as Schweitzer. North of the border, Fernie has a decent amount of snow, as do Red Mountain and Schweitzer’s Canadian sister resort of Whitewater. However, only Fernie is open this early in the season and the terrain is limited.
I have been seeing a lot of Canadian license plates in the parking lot at the ski resort, and also in town. The Canadians I have talked to are coming here from Calgary and other cities in Alberta, as well as from Southern British Columbia. It seems that word is getting out up there that Sandpoint in Northern Idaho is a wonderful place and that the skiing is pretty darn good. It probably doesn’t hurt that property is less expensive here, our taxes are lower, and the exchange rate is favorable too, eh. Whatever the reason, we welcome our visitors from Canada and are glad to be close to Southern B.C. so we can visit there as well.
A Schweitzer Skier on Opening Day
If you’re looking for some great early season skiing, come to Sandpoint and check out Schweitzer Mountain Resort. The entire front side (see trail maps – Schweitzer Bowl) is open now, including some excellent tree skiing for which Schweitzer is famous. You’ll find out why Schweitzer was the Ski Magazine editors pick for the best kept secret, but you have to promise not to tell anybody! Hope to see you there, and while you’re in Sandpoint stop by and see our portfolio of beautiful Mountain Homes.
This post was written by an author at Hendricks Architecture who wishes to remain anonymous. We are mountain architects located in Sandpoint, Idaho. Click to Subscribe to Hendricks Architecture’s Blog.
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