HOUGHTON - Mount Bohemia is bringing in a new general manager to help handle the hill's increasing lodging facilities and year-round operations, ski hill President Lonie Glieberman said Wednesday. Vern Barber, who managed Marquette Mountain for the last 32 years, will be beginning his duties at Bohemia May 5.
"I'm real excited to be headed up there," Barber said. "They're growing, he's going to need help, and I'm going to provide that for them."
Glieberman said Bohemia currently has lodging for 140 people, up from 48 just five years ago, and has also added both summer adventure activities and a bar and restaurant in the last two years. He said growth is expected to continue, with a new permanent chalet the next potential major development.
Photo courtesy Mount Bohemia
Yurts like this have long been one of the main sources of lodging at Mount Bohemia, but more traditional lodgings have also begun to pop up in recent years, and growth is expected to continue under new General Manager Vern Barber.
"We're looking at chalet scenarios," Glieberman said. "One thing he'll do is help evaluate that."
Barber said it's been a while since he's been involved in building lodging, but felt his guest service skills would benefit Bohemia, as would his experience building and maintaining ski hill infrastructure at Marquette Mountain.
He said his interest in Mount Bohemia was piqued by a recreational ski trip to Mount Bohemia earlier this winter.
"Lonie and I had some discussions, and he showed me the direction Bohemia and Black Bear Inc. are taking. I came back on another visit, saw the development they're doing, got excited, and decided to make the move," he said, adding that he and Glieberman had discussed opportunities for near-future development.
He said he was also intrigued by Mount Bohemia's extreme skiing focus, which sets it apart from other midwestern hills.
"It's a niche that other ski hills aren't competing for," Barber said. "(Glieberman) has very little competition in northeast America, and his customers are very avid and very loyal and growing."
"That's not to be said typically of the other 200 ski hills in the Midwest, who are all competing for the same chunk of pie," he added. "That market, especially in the kid zone, is shrinking."
Glieberman said no employees are being let go to make room for Barber.
"The company is growing, and with the growth we needed someone else to add to the volume of work," he said.
Barber said he's looking forward to the move to the Keweenaw and doing some mountain biking, kayaking and scuba diving this summer.
But more than anything, he's already getting excited about next winter's skiing.
"I hadn't been able to get out much over the last 10 years, and I hadn't made it up there (to Bohemia)," he said. "I was awestruck. When I went out there I thought it was challenging, fun, playful - I was like a kid again."