Holiday Ice Rink Brings a Chill to The Lakes

Spotlight on Business

By Daniel Gelman

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You wouldn’t expect to see adults at play in the mid-afternoon on a weekday, case but there’s something about ice skating that brings out the kid in a variety of characters. Some like the idea of conquering the art of balance while challenging the fear of a potential fall. For others it’s a glide down memory lane. For most, cialis it’s a chance to spend quality time with their kids. But when the sun goes down, physician romance and teen bonding often take over.

Either way, it’s a “win-win” on ice. The Holiday Ice Rink at “The Lakes” of Thousand Oaks (adjacent to the Civic Arts Plaza) is in its 10th year of operation. Willy Bietak Productions, based in Santa Monica operates four seasonal outdoor rinks. They also produce multiple ice shows nationwide and on cruise ships. Bietak is a nine-time Austrian pair champion and two-time Olympian who has been in business for over 25 years.

The 60 x 60 winter rink is situated literally atop one of the lakes at the outdoor shopping center anchored by the Claim Jumper Restaurant and P.F. Changs. The Lakes is owned and managed by Caruso Affiliated, which also developed The Promenade in Westlake Village and The Grove in Los Angeles.

According to rink manager Valerie Abraham, it is a “destination” business, since most locals have seen it from the road over the years. She figures that people come specifically to skate and often spill over to the adjacent restaurants and shops. Management at the local Claim Jumper confirmed the increase in business due to rink traffic, although they didn’t quantify it.

Valerie was a professional show skater in the 1980’s on the European circuit. Originally from England, she has been living in Las Vegas for 20 years and working for Bietak for the last couple of winters. “It gives me a chance to reconnect with skating,” she told CJ. It is Valerie’s job to make sure the ice is in appropriate condition, the books balance, and the customers are satisfied.

Rink Assistant Manager Amanda Johnson teaches figure skating at the full sized Iceoplex ice rink in Simi Valley. She was also a pro skater in the 90’s. This is her first year with the seasonal rink although she skated for Bietak for years. “I love seeing all the new skaters and I enjoy the festive atmosphere. It connects me with my past,” she said recently. Johnson also runs a non-profit called the Tri-County Youth Production Corporation in Simi Valley that is producing a Little Mermaid ice show at Iceoplex on December 20-21.

Admission for skating is $10 per person regardless of age. Skate rentals cost $4. The rink also sells gloves, socks, beanies, and water. Don’t bother looking for a traditional cash register or trying to sell them merchant services. This business uses an Apple iPad-based “Square” Point-of- Sale system. The iPad sits in a stand with a credit card swiping slot, but you can also use the actual tiny plug-in square for swiping.

On a busy night it’s not unusual to see 100 skaters circling in counter-clockwise fashion.

The rink operates from November 13 through January 20. At the moment the hours are from 1p.m. to 9:30 p.m. with one hour sessions and a half hour ice-cutting period between. From December 21-30, the rink will operate from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The holiday rink employs 28 locals including several students, local hockey prospects, and a few mature workers. The three sponsors are UCLA Health Systems, Elements Massage of Thousand Oaks, and Conejo Deals. Umami Burger, also at The Lakes, offers $5 off a meal for skaters.

On opening day the rink hosted employees from City Hall next door. California Lutheran University (CLU) has rented out the rink for a special event and birthday parties.

According to staff, recent skaters included a woman who wanted to learn skating before visiting family on the East coast, a mature European immigrant who hadn’t been on the ice in many years, and a six year old girl who was addicted on her second outing at the rink. Staff said she looked like a natural.

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Daniel Gelman has been a freelance Reporter/Writer for several years, specializing in News, Business, Feature, and Op-Ed.

 

 

 

 

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