Peter MagnisalisManaging DirectorHe’s about to lodge one of the biggest, most expensive development applications in Western Sydney.
His Winter Sports World will change the perception of his hometown and attract leisure seekers and elite sportspeople from around the globe.
Yet Peter Magnisalis is most excited about the jobs his "giant esky" will create for locals and the economic boon it will bring.
The state significant development application will be lodged with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment in November for Australia’s first indoor snow resort and alpine winter attraction, due to open in 2025.
Magnisalis, 46, has a degree in...
Magnisalis, 46, has a degree in construction management, but was no snow expert when he floated the ambitious idea.
He began his career working with his bricklayer father in the school holidays.
"My dad worked very hard from dawn until the sun went down and believed that this is how life is. That gave me the drive to continuously challenge the status quo."
He enrolled in university and worked part-time as a builder at Ian Cubbitt’s Classic Home Renovations at Marayong (now Emu Plains) for two years. He also helped established their systems and began managing renovation projects.
Armed with a full builder’s license and youthful confidence, "I decided that I knew it all" and founded his own renovations business, Prestige Home Improvements, at age 23.
With no architect on staff, Magnisalis hand drew all designs himself. If a sub-contractor didn’t turn up, he did the work himself.
"I learnt persistence – there’s always problems but you just have to keep going and find a solution."
"I keep pushing boundaries, and I’ve learned to understand my weaknesses and that I can’t do everything, so I surround myself with good people who can do the things I can’t."
He completed 11 jobs in two years, yet "about 12 to 18 months in, I had a lightbulb moment: maybe I didn’t know everything", so he joined John Holland Group to learn about big scale infrastructure, engineering and major development.
In the nearly 25 years since, Magnisalis has built large scale residential, aged care, retirement living, special and mixed-use developments working with Anglicare Retirement Villages, MJH Group, PBS Property Group, St Basil’s Aged Care and Abi Group.
Specialising in end-to-end development, he introduced pet friendly living in aged care and solar power to retirement living, has operated caravan parks and built housing estates and motels.
A lifetime Penrith resident, Magnisalis has a passion for the area and is proud that Winter Sports World throughout its operating life will generate more than 1350 jobs on completion and inject more than $220 million into the Western Sydney economy each year.
Seven years after dreaming up Winter Sports World, he has researched the top 45 indoor snow centres in the world and has visited various in Dubai, Europe and the United Kingdom, and knows the secrets to their success and failures.
Magnisalis has also done the math.
More than 50 per cent of Australians have visited the ski fields during their lifetime with around only 1 million people who ski regularly.
There is a large portion of people who don’t go to the ski fields because it is too difficult or expensive for them to do so.
Winter Sports World will cater for everyone, from the first-time snow experience to learning to ski or snowboard and regular skiers and elite athletes.
"We’re not even talking about the international visitors who will come to Penrith, especially when the new Western Sydney International Airport opens 15km up the road."
Magnisalis gave up his job about three and a half years ago to work full-time on Winter Sports World.
"I now live and breathe" the development that will help change the traditional perception of Penrith, the town he was raised in.
"This is not a local thing. This is a national offering, an international attraction."
Magnisalis bought the WSW 2.35ha property with an inkling it would eventually be rezoned by Penrith City Council.
That happened in 2015, much sooner than he expected. The property is included in the vibrant Riverlink Tourism Precinct along Tench Reserve.
He settled on the idea of an indoor snow resort because "Penrith deserves something extraordinary, Penrith deserves the best".
While tourism is a new genre for him, "the principles are similar in terms of researching the market and knowing the market", he says.
"I don’t consider myself a developer anymore – I’m an operator who happens to be building my development.
"I've tried to be as objective as possible. I've said to myself many times: 'If I had any land in Sydney, where would I put it?'.
"It always comes back to: `There's no better place to put it, the first one in Australia, than here’.
"We’re so close to the new airport, and halfway between the Blue Mountains and Sydney CBD and just off the M4 Motorway belt.
"I’m the person you need to excite about Winter Sports World because I'm the least excitable person about snow.
"I wasn’t brought up with snow. I didn’t have the opportunity to go to the snow when I was young and it was too adventurous for me to get to when I had a family of my own.
"But Australians generally love the snow and it's a shame they don’t have more opportunities to experience it."
Now all Peter Magnisalis must do is learn to ski.
Jack NesgosHead Director of Snow & Ice OperationsJack is undoubtedly the most experience Indoor Snow Centre operator in the world, having operated seven indoor snow centers over three continents with a career spanning 30 years. He has accumulated an extensive knowledge database with an established network of contacts worldwide including visiting over forty five indoor snow centers. Jack has managed various snow centres around the world including Tamworth Snowdome, Snozone’s Milton Keynes, Castleford & Brehaed, Ski Dubai and Ski Egypt.
He has numerous qualifications such as a Diploma in physical & sports conditioning, IAPPA executive leadership, ICSC shopping center manager, NEBOSH health & safety, DSP security manager, instructor for skiing, snowboarding and snow biking, BASP slope patrol & emergency medical technician, snow grooming, etc.
Jack started his career in leisure within the aquatics industry joining Snow Pro International’s including managing the first “all year round” indoor snow centre in Australia in 1992, Mt. Thebarton Snow and Ice Entertainment Centre. He has been involved with the first indoor snow centres in the UK, Middle East and of most recent Africa.
Stephen EdwardsHigh Performance Snow Sport Coach & Programme DirectorA British Olympian who didn’t experience summer for nearly four decades has joined Australia’s first indoor snow resort and alpine facility management team in one of the hottest places on Earth.
Former Australian national winter sports team coach Stephen Edwards is the high-performance snowsports coach and program director at the soon-to-be-built Winter Sports World (WSW) in Penrith, NSW.
A magnet for elite winter athletes, WSW will be a training field for Olympic sports such as – alpine skiing, freestyle skiing and snowboarding.
Site developer Peter Magnisalis said: ``I don’t think it’s a big stretch of the imagination to think that Winter Sports World will become one of the top 10 high performance training centres in the world.
``Stephen’s involvement adds international credibility and attention to the development as an elite competition and participation sporting venue. We are very fortunate to have him on board.’’
He began talks four years ago with Edwards, who represented Britain in alpine skiing at the 1992 Winter Olympic Games.
Edwards, who lives in Australia but works around the world, was integral in the setup and ongoing operation programs of the UK’s first snow centre (Snowdome) in Tamworth in the mid-1990s.
He has been involved in snow sport coaching for more than 30 years, including World Cup coach for Australia and Denmark, national team coach for England, program director for European Development & Excellence Program and head coach for Perisher Winter Sports Club and Mt Buller Race Club.
Edwards is a former Snow Sports Australia national team selector, snowsports England tutor and athletes he has trained have had success at the highest level including world cups, world championships, Olympic Games, Youth Olympic Games, international children’s races and national champions in alpine skiing and snowboard.
``I thought: `Why hasn’t anyone done this in Australia before?’,‘’ he said. ``It’s a perfect location and Australians love snow.’’
Located just 9km from Australia’s newest international airport at Badgerys Creek, Winter Sports World will be a linchpin of Penrith’s sporting venue offering which already includes Sydney International Regatta Centre and Penrith Whitewater Rafting, a major football stadium, and competitive cricket, netball, and shooting and archery grounds.
Adventure attractions iFly indoor skydiving, Cables Wake Park on the neighbouring Penrith Panthers site, numerous golf courses, rowing on the Nepean River and more complete the city’s claim to being the ``Adventure capital of NSW’’.
Winter Sports World will remove the disadvantage of Australian snow and ice athletes currently having to decamp for months every year to expensive overseas training facilities away from their support networks.
``Athletes from nearly every country in the world train in indoor centres,’’ Edwards said. ``It guarantees their time on the snow so they can focus on technique without variables like weather and piste conditions.’’
However, the development will be accessible and affordable to all, with learn-to-ski/ snowboard classes, school and community group excursions and casual visits by locals encouraged.
While Australia has more than 1 million regular snowsport enthusiasts just to the NSW resorts of which about 700,000 are in Sydney, another 4.5 million people do not ski because they cannot access the snow.
``It's just too hard for them to go there or too expensive so they haven't been introduced to it,’’ Mr Magnisalis said.
Winter Sports World will accept the twice yearly $100 Active Kids government vouchers available to every school-age child in NSW.
The venue will help increase year-round participation in snow and ice sports and become a pathway for its governing bodies to establish program.
Growing up in the UK with access to a dry ski slope only, skiing was challenging for Edwards, who took up the sport at age eight.
``If I was going to make it to top level competition I needed to move to the snow,’’ he said.
``At 16, I had to make a huge life-changing decision to follow my dreams and moved to the French alps on my own.
``I didn’t experience another summer without snow until Covid took hold on the world in 2020.’’