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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Igora Will Take Resort to New Heights

Itar-TassSkiers taking the lift up the slope at the Igora ski resort shortly after it opened for business in January last year.
St. Petersburg -- The latest addition to St. Petersburg's ski-resort map will soon complete $20 million worth of development that will allow it to become "the first year-round [ski] resort complex [in the region]," managers of the Igora complex said at a recent news conference.

Representatives of Igora, a ski resort 54 kilometers north of St. Petersburg, said a spa complex and swimming pool would feature in the development and add to an already diverse range of services that the resort hopes will improve its attractiveness to visitors.

"It is obvious that if managers concentrate only on skiing, the resort will have to be closed down immediately after the snow melts. But the hotel, restaurants, and the countryside -- these are all valuable assets in any season," said Yulia Ilyinykh, Igora's PR director.

Calling itself "one of the most ambitious projects in the Leningrad region," the resort has already seen $25 million worth of investment into numerous slopes and ski lifts by its four investors AKB Rossiya, Severstal, the Severo Zapad Center of Strategic Development and Sogaz, Ilyinykh said last week.

As the economic potential of the winter sports industry continues to boom in Russia, a number of Soviet-era ski resorts in the Leningrad region have been renovated, while new ones have also been developed. Three resorts near the villages of Korobitsyno, Pykhtolova Gora and Okhta-Park are among the popular destinations for St. Petersburg residents who have neither the money nor the time to ski further away.

While these resorts may boast steep slopes and low prices, Igora hopes to define itself by the quality of its service -- traditionally a weak spot in Russia.

"Regardless of the presence of a number of international hospitality brands in Russia, service in the country remains an area that still largely needs improvement," said a statement from Leading Hospitality Company, which manages the Igora ski resort. "What is needed is competent management with international experience and constant personnel training."

According to data from the St. Petersburg-based WorkLine Group marketing research firm, there are around 50,000 people in St. Petersburg who ski "from time to time." Experts say Igora is capable of taking a large slice of that pie.

"Igora is probably the most modern ski resort near St. Petersburg, and it has enough advantages over its competitors to win over consumers with its nine slopes, spa and swimming pool, as well as its proximity to St. Petersburg," Mikhail Podushko, strategic development director of WorkLine Research, said in an e-mailed statement.

Igora is a popular destination for vacationers aiming to do more than just ski, said Anton Nikolayev, co-founder of Alt Media Group, which specializes in ski resort advertising.

Not only is interest in winter sports, such as skiing and snowboarding rapidly increasing but demand for cottages for vacation accommodation is growing by leaps and bounds, too, Nikolayev said.

"The skiing audience consists mostly of athletes and people who do it as a hobby," Nikolayev said. "The first category wants good slopes more than anything, but for the latter it's the cozy cottage that makes the difference."