CONWAY — On Monday afternoon, U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) visited Cranmore Mountain Resort, touring the 89-room Marriott hotel under construction there as well as getting an overview of the new base lodge, both falling under the umbrella of Cranmore’s planned $60 million redevelopment.
The stop was part of the first-term congressman’s focus on tourism. While there, Pappas discussed the ski season with Cranmore President and General Manager Ben Wilcox, as well as the local tourism-dependent economy.
The Manchester Democrat’s visit to the region also included a roundtable discussion on broadband access in Sandwich and a meeting at the Conway Police Station to discuss safe communities issues (see Thursday’s edition for that coverage).
Along with Wilcox, Jessyca Keeler, president of Ski NH, also participated in the Cranmore tour, as did Nancy Clark of Drive Brand Studio public relations agency of North Conway and some Pappas staffers.
Wilcox and Keeler underscored to Pappas that although the season has seen an early spring, most local areas had a good season in terms of skier visits.
Before booting up for a ski run at the end of the hourlong tour, Pappas noted, “It’s been a good season here, but there are certainly some challenges with workforce and inflation.”
Looking ahead to the summer, Pappas referenced domestic gas prices being affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and said he is supporting legislation that would repeal the federal gas tax
“We’ve got to do all we can to mitigate gas prices. … I am supporting legislation that would cancel the federal gas tax for the rest of the season to provide some relief to travelers,” said Pappas.
“We are tied to international oil prices even though we rely mostly on domestic energy, and the uncertainty in the world is helping to create a situation where we see record prices at the pump,” he said.
“So we need to make sure we are doing all we can to create peace and stability on the world stage and energy independence at home and we will continue to take those steps,” Pappas added.
Pappas said he supports the Biden administration’s policies of not enforcing a no-fly zone over Ukraine. He also praised the courage of the Ukrainian people.
“The fact that the West came together is so phenomenal. Putin did not expect that to happen and he overestimated the capability of his military and they appear to be bogged down,” Pappas said.
The first stop on Pappas’ tour of the Cranmore property was the base area, which is to be razed starting April 5 to make way for the Fairbank Lodge, a groundbreaking for which was held March 16.
The new base lodge will be named for Cranmore co-owners Brian Fairbank and son Tyler Fairbank, who bought the ski area in June 2010.
Showing Pappas renderings while standing inside the former Skimobile base area, Wilcox said the new lodge will include a food pavilion, slope-side bar, day and season-long lockers, restrooms, a cafe and a ski accessories shop.
The first floor is projected to be operational by the start of the next ski season. The entire Fairbank Lodge is expected to be completed before the 2023-24 winter season, Wilcox told Pappas.
The group then walked down to the toured the four-story, 89-room Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott hotel to be managed by Lafrance Hospitality Associates based in Westport, Mass.
As the construction crew worked, Jim Schultz of Opechee Construction Corp. of Belmont showed the lobby area, as well as a first-floor meeting room and space for an indoor pool that will have access to a deck area with a hot tub on the east side of the building. There also will be an indoor pool.
The hotel is being built on the former footprint of the Cranmore Fitness Center.
The tour next stopped at the new Artist Falls Lodge, just east of the hotel and serving as the amenities building for the condominiums and ticketing area for the Cranmore Tubing Park.
It includes a pool for the condominiums and a lounge with a bar and a pizza counter for those using the tubing park.
Wilcox showed the center’s new technology allowing people to download tickets to their smartphones.
Pappas also got a tour of a three-bedroom slopeside penthouse condominium in Building II of the Kearsarge Brook Condominiums at Cranmore that is owned by Todd Niemaszyk of Atlantic Construction of Groton, Mass., the company building the condominiums as well as the planned new Fairbank Base Lodge.
Pappas, 41, is a former member of the Governor’s Executive Council from 2013-2019. He is running for a second term representing the 1st Congressional District. He faces opposition from seven Republican candidates: Julian Acciard, Tim Baxter, Gail Huff Brown, Mark Kilbane, Karoline Leavitt, Matt Mowers and Gilead Towne.