Now in his fourth year as director of marketing at Purity Spring Resort, Thomas Prindle brings a unique background well-suited to the many facets of marketing a four-season resort that revolves around both snow-covered ski slopes and a pristine mountain lake. New England Ski Journal caught up with Prindle recently to discuss his role at this iconic Granite State property.
New England Ski Journal: You have ended up in a beautiful part of New Hampshire. Are you from the local area, elsewhere in New England or farther away?
Thomas Prindle: I was born and raised in Massachusetts and graduated from Acton-Boxborough High School. But my summers were spent at my family’s summer cottage on a New Hampshire lake. Coincidently, my girlfriend and I have purchased a house together and now live on that same lake year-round.
NESJ: What is your background in terms of education? How did you get into the line of work you’re in now?
Prindle: Learning about the ski industry started early in high school with my first job tuning skis at a Carroll Reed Ski Shop. Since then I’ve spent time in almost every aspect of the industry — ski instructor at Nashoba Valley, working retail and ski tuning at various ski shops, lift operator out west at Alpine Meadows in Tahoe, managing ticketing, reservations and sales staff at Attitash. From there I became director of sales and marketing at Wildcat. When the area was purchased by Peak Resorts, I held the same position for both Wildcat and Attitash. And now here I am at Purity Spring, owned by the Hoyt family, promoting and marketing all their various businesses including Purity Spring Resort, King Pine Ski Area, Danforth Bay Campground & RV Resort and Tohkomeupog Summer Camp for Boys. There were breaks along the way to graduate from Framingham State University with a degree in English, work for a Boston-based music magazine, and serve on the editorial staff of a higher-education textbook publisher. These latter positions gave me incredible insight on publicity and public relations. I’ve also been fortunate to learn, and continue to learn, from family, friends, colleagues and mentors with whom I’ve interacted along the way.
NESJ: Did you always know you wanted to get into this type of work, or was it “accidental”?
Prindle: At some point, I remember not being completely satisfied working in publishing and asking myself, “When is it that I’ve been truly happy?” It always kept coming back to skiing or working jobs related to skiing. It was then that I decided to take the professional experience gained in publishing and try to establish a career in an industry I could be passionate for. It’s like the old saying, “Do what you love, love what you do.”
NESJ: What brought you to Purity Spring Resort?
Prindle: The Hoyt Family was seeking to fill a director of marketing vacancy and they reached out. I was immediately drawn in because there was opportunity that went beyond my passion for snow skiing. Purity Lake was a central component of Purity Spring Resort. I was familiar with it because of spending my summers as a youth on a lake just a bit farther south.
NESJ: What does Purity Spring Resort offer for guests in the summer, especially as it relates to water sports and other activities?
Prindle: Purity Spring Resort offers a very unique experience. Some might say it’s a nod to how resorts used to be, and we get our comparisons to the spirit of the resort portrayed in the classic movie “Dirty Dancing.” Purity Spring Resort and generations of the Hoyt family have been welcoming guests since 1911. In turn, we’ve had generations of many families that have been visiting every summer for a week or longer for 30, 40 and even greater than 50 years. Summer vacation traditions include the classics, of course, like sunning yourself on sandy beaches and swimming in a pristine freshwater lake, canoeing, fishing, lobster bakes, breakfast cookouts and evening camp fires to toast marshmallows and make s’mores. And daily organized recreational activities like archery, arts and crafts or tie-dye T-shirt making are a few more examples of what we offer. Over the years, the family has introduced additional activities like waterskiing and wakeboarding, shuttling guests for organized paddling trips on nearby rivers or “Teen Night Out” to go play laser tag. With Traditions Restaurant & Pub providing breakfast and dinners as part of all-inclusive stays and The Mill heated indoor pool, hot tub, fitness room and spa services, Purity Spring Resort offers most everything needed for a memorable summer vacation.
NESJ: Which of these activities are of particular interest to you? Do you have a special background in any?
Prindle: As I mentioned earlier, growing up and spending summers on a lake, I identify with the overall story, traditions and the summertime lake experiences that Purity Spring Resort offers its guests. But in particular, waterskiing, wakeboarding and kneeboarding as included activities for guests is unique and are things that I particularly enjoy and have a proficiency for. Purity Lake is an ideal place to learn waterskiing or wakeboarding because we have the only boat on the lake. Also, the natural shoreline helps to dissipate boat wakes and we’re a smaller body of water protected by surrounding mountains, which all helps to keep the water calm most days and ideal for enjoying water sports. Calm water is not only great for learning, but also ideal for more avid “expert” water skiers. A slalom waterski course is available for the more advanced.
NESJ: What is your background in water sports and how do you make use of it in your position here?
Prindle: It’s a great perk of working in the ski industry, to be able to ski a lot during the winter season … even if it’s just taking a few runs during the work day. But did I ever think there would be an opportunity for me to enjoy that similar perk during the summer? In my personal life, I enjoy slalom waterskiing in the summer as much as I do alpine skiing in the winter. I feel fortunate that there are a group of us on the lake where I live who waterski regularly. We have a course on that lake and there is a great bit of similarity and crossover between waterskiing and alpine skiing. The sensation of carving glassy calm water on a slalom waterski is as close to shredding powder snow as I’ve ever felt. The culture is similar too — waking up early to get the best conditions and “boat time” is a lot like “chair time” affording you the opportunity for conversation with friends and just enjoying a beautiful day on the lake much like you enjoy the time in the mountains.
NESJ: Do you have specific skills/areas of expertise that are especially valuable in your position at Purity Spring?
Prindle: I’ve been driving ski boats long before I could legally drive a car. Boats are like that for kids growing up on lakes or the ocean. They can provide you some pretty cool freedom before you even have the chance to borrow mom or dad’s car. With that, when you’re the one with the boat and waterski equipment or a wakeboard, you’re always teaching family members, relatives, friends or whoever how to get up for the first time. There’s the obvious instruction part you provide in terms of the athletic nature of getting up on skis or a wakeboard, but unlike alpine skiing, a good boat driver can make the experience much easier. When the Hoyt family hired me, it didn’t take me long to let them know that if by chance they needed another person to help with boat driving duties towing guests, I’d be happy to oblige. They told me as soon as I could get my commercial boat driver license for insurance reasons that I’d be put on the schedule.
NESJ: Are most of the activities focused on kids, adults, or both?
Prindle: Most of the activities can be enjoyed by all ages. I remember one guest stating what he likes about his summer vacations at Purity Spring Resort is that, “There are endless fun things to do for everyone, or nothing to do at all.”
NESJ: Do you have much direct interaction with the resort guests in summer?
Prindle: In marketing today, we have some pretty incredible engagement opportunities. Social media channels obviously afford us a great ability to interact and share the experience of Purity Spring Resort, King Pine Ski Area and the other businesses in a very photo- and video-rich medium. It’s definitely a creative outlet for my marketing coordinator Aly and me to interact with guests at all times during the year. However, my most direct interaction with resort guests during the summer is when I am driving the boat. I can’t tell you how many times I’ll be driving the boat and offering tips to a child who is learning how to waterski, and their mom, dad or grandparent will be seated in the boat right next to me as “observers.” There’s something special that happens when that child gets up for the first time and other family or friends are right there to witness it. And the surprised look on their face is priceless when they learn later that I’m the marketing director and that’s the reason that I’ve been peppering them with questions about where they’re from, how did they first learn about Purity Spring Resort, what are they enjoying, what could the resort be doing better, et cetera. It’s a lot like when I’m riding the chairlift in the winter with King Pine guests — I tend to take advantage of the opportunity for informal market research. But in the summer, if you’ve managed to get a family member up on the water for the first time and everyone is having fun, the interaction is extended and very genuine.
NESJ: What is it like working at a family owned/operated resort? Is it different than at other resorts?
Prindle: In the ski industry, I’ve worked for both private, family-owned ski areas and publically traded multi-resort corporations like American Skiing Company and Peak Resorts. There are pluses and minuses to both. I have enjoyed the sharing of information and resources that you can find within a multi-resort corporation. However, I also enjoy the freedom and direct line of decision-making afforded when you are working for a family owned business.
NESJ: What do you think is the best feature of the resort? Why do people come here, and do you get a lot of returning guests year after year? If so, why, what do they love about it?
Prindle: As I mentioned before, we have guests and families who have been visiting Purity Spring Resort for a very long time, 30, 40 and even 50 years or more. Guests that spent their childhood with their families vacationing here every summer, now adults bringing their own kids. The word you’ll often hear when you ask these guests why they come is “tradition.” But I feel that sense of tradition is an experience that even the new guest, who has never been here before, can discover, feel and enjoy, too.
NESJ: What is your favorite part of the job?
Prindle: Ummm … the skiing? Joking aside, in addition to working with great people, my favorite part of the job is the creative outlet that marketing can be. Of course, there is the data, research and measuring results, the numbers side of my job. But as an English major with delusions at one time of writing the next great American novel, there is a creative story I get to tell on a regular basis with this job.
NESJ: What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the resort? What is your biggest challenge?
Prindle: In the time that I’ve been here, now heading into my fourth summer season, I feel I’ve brought some new approaches to marketing, advertising and branding Purity Spring Resort and the other businesses that I’m directly involved with. There has been measurable success, but there remain opportunities for improvement. Everyone here continues to work hard to offer a unique experience in an extremely competitive environment.
NESJ: What is the most rewarding thing about working here?
Prindle: I would say the most rewarding thing is knowing when a guest has experienced and truly enjoyed their visit and lets us know about it, whether they tell you directly or a positive review you read on TripAdvisor, for example. It’s one thing for marketing to “sell” the ideal experience or story of Purity Spring Resort, but it takes the entire team to deliver that to the guest from before they even check in to after they check out.