September 24, 2021 | By Graeme Kemlo
While it might have been less than 10km from the epicentre of this week’s 5.9 magnitude earthquake in Victoria, COVID restrictions have done more damage to Mt Buller than the seismic shakeup.
The resort’s communications manager Rhylla Morgan said buildings shook for a solid 30 seconds, people ran outside, lifts shut down and infrastructure was checked. But apart from an aftershock 30 minutes later, the ski resort returned to normal…COVID normal that is.
The truth is that it and other alpine resorts in Victoria have faced regional restrictions but the bulk of their patrons come from Melbourne three hours away. She said this school holidays with Greater Melbourne, Geelong, the Surf coast and Mitchell Shire all in lockdown, visitor numbers were severely restricted. And those who were eligible to travel to the region had to show a negative COVID test before they were allowed on the mountain.
Morgan said Mt Buller had 8,000 beds across a range of accommodation types and normally hosted a range of small to mid-sized conferences and corporate meetings, team building or executive planning weekends, mostly with clients from Melbourne.
Unique to Mt Buller are a range of ski lodges, some available for exclusive use. The largest meetings would usually use Mt Buller Chalet Hotel & Suites with 62 rooms in up to 14 different room types, and four meeting spaces of up to 306m2. The Chalet also has some suites with large lounge space. Also popular is Breathtaker Hotel with 33 self-contained suites in 10 room types.
While the snow season is due to close on October 3, she said the rest of the year, “the green season” was popular for meetings or team building with nature-based amenities including mountain biking, horse riding trails and hiking.
“We are expecting a great 2022 because we had strong bookings this year until the lockdown, so we believe Victorians still have a latent demand to ski locally rather than fly off to New Zealand,” she said, with bookings coming in six to 12 months ahead.