If you worked at the foot of one of your favorite ski areas, would you be more or less productive?

All work and no play makes columnist Josh Christie a dull boy. Can he balance working with mid-week skiing at the new co-working space at Sunday River? Photo by Josh Christie

It’s a question I’ve asked myself often. I went to school in Farmington, and famously printed and laminated my notes so I could read them on the chairlift — which is to say a sense of a work/life balance has never been my strong suit. But with a number of friends who have places in ski country and claim to work remotely, I have wondered if it’s possible to balance getting work done with lots and lots of midweek skiing.

Enter SkiWork, the new co-working space in the South Ridge Lodge at Sunday River. Rentable by the hour or for the day, the slopeside room offers an office space just steps from the base of the Chondola. While there are other, similar rentable office spaces in ski country (particularly out West), Sunday River’s Director of Communications Karolyn Castaldo believes SkiWork is the first of its kind here in New England.

A quick explainer, for the uninitiated: co-working traditionally refers to a setup where people from several different, unrelated companies can share an office space. The idea behind this setup is twofold. First, it’s meant to reduce the cost that any individual worker would pay for office space, because the cost of shared services (computer equipment, utilities, office perks, etc) is spread out among the workers. Second, it’s meant to foster a sense of community — something that’s missing for many people who work remotely or telecommute, traditionally in a space without co-workers.

Co-working has exploded in popularity over the last decade. There are over 20,000 co-working spaces worldwide, according to database company Statista, with about a third of those here in the United States. The Portland peninsula alone is home to more than half-dozen, including coworkHERS, Think Tank Coworking, and Cloudport CoWorking MultiSpace. But in the United States, the growth of co-working spaces at ski resorts has lagged behind the rest of the world. Out West, the Lake Tahoe region has Tahoe Mill (near Squaw and Alpine Meadows), and The Fort on-hill at Mammoth, but that’s about it.

In its current iteration, SkiWork offers a single room for rent in South Ridge Lodge for remote workers. Located on the top floor of the lodge between the Foggy Goggle and Sunday River’s administrative area, the office space looks out toward Spruce Peak and North Peak. According to Castaldo, the room used to be used as a VIP suite, housing visitors like current and former Red Sox players.

While it’s pitched as an office space, it still retains the feel of a suite; a large TV and two leather couches fill one corner of the room, and a kitchenette another. Sunday River art and photos cover the walls, and it has the cozy feel of a New England ski cabin. A large table with seating for six, and another with seating for two, provide the SkiWork “desk” space. Since the whole lodge is licensed for food and drink, you can bring your own food or order from the nearby cafeteria or Foggy Goggle, or even bring your pint of beer over from the bar for a working tipple.

According to Sunday River’s website, SkiWork is meant primarily as a team space. For individuals, the rental cost is $25 per hour. Teams can rent the whole space for up to 10 people, with a full day (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) running $250. Reservations can be made at [email protected], or through guest services.

Next season, however, SkiWork will be expanding into a larger, more traditional co-working space in the White Cap Lodge. The new digs, in the former Coffee Hound space, will provide a full suite of reserved and “hot” (in co-working lingo, available but not reserved) desks for individuals. It will also have private conference rooms, group seating areas, and a private restroom, as well as a connection to the Shipyard Brewpub just downstairs. In addition to daily rates, the White Cap SkiWork will also offer season-long membership rates. Despite the area’s growth as a four-season destination, both SkiWork spaces will operate only during the ski season. But nearby Bethel has a year-round co-working space — The Gem, at 23 Cross Street.

The new co-working space at the South Ridge Lodge at Sunday River may be the first of its kind in New England. Next ski season, Sunday River plans to expand the co-working space. Photo by Josh Christie

I had the chance to put in a work day at SkiWork in early February, and was pleasantly surprised by my productivity. I’ll admit to having put in an hour or two of skiing before getting down to work, but the fresh air and exercise did wonders for my headspace before I dove into email and other projects. It was a breathtakingly perfect midweek day — bluebird skies, no wind, no crowds — and that didn’t make buckling down to work easy, but there’s something motivating in knowing skiing is mere feet away, rather than a few hours’ drive.

At the moment, SkiWork is a bit light on amenities — since you’re using the general lodge wifi, and there are no other utilities, you’re really just paying for privacy you wouldn’t have in the common areas. But it’s a great proof-of-concept for expanded co-working opportunities both at Sunday River and at New England ski resorts in general.

Josh Christie is a freelance writer living in Portland. Along with his brother, Jake, he writes about great Maine destinations for outdoors enthusiasts. Josh can be reached at:

[email protected]


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