From a new hotel beside the slopes at Jay Peak, in Vermont, to retooled lifts at Whistler-Blackcomb, British Columbia, North American mountain resorts spent the off-season bumping up the experience for skiers this winter. Curious about what’s new at your vacation spot this winter? Here’s a look.
A few ski areas are expanding their trail maps this winter in intriguing ways. At Breckenridge in Colorado, the addition of Peak 6 this winter adds more than 540 acres, a nearly 25 percent increase in the resort’s skiable acreage. Peak 6 will include 400 acres of lift-served terrain and 143 acres of hike-to terrain. The terrain is mostly high-alpine, intermediate bowl skiing, which isn’t easy to find.
At Sugar Bowl Resort at Lake Tahoe, Calif., installation of the $3 million Crow’s Peak triple chairlift adds more than 150 acres of advanced/expert terrain in the Strawberry Fields area of the mountain, just below Crow’s Nest Peak, including two new groomed runs, wind-protected glades and steeps and chutes.
As part of a growth spurt, Mount Bachelor, outside Bend, Ore., this year adds 646 acres of glades, bowls and natural features on the southeast flank of the mountain (conditions permitting), giving skiers a whopping 4,331 acres to choose from on all sides of the conical volcano. A chairlift is probable for next winter, so this winter the resort will limit access to the ungroomed terrain to advanced skiers who can hike out 20 minutes to the Sunrise base area.
Hotels and lodges
The Stateside Hotel at Jay Peak Resort in far northern Vermont is the third hotel to open at Jay Peak since 2009. The $25 million complex, at the base area about 50 steps from one of the resort’s main lifts, will have eight rooms above, and below them two pubs, a restaurant, retail space, a base lodge and a rental center. Aimed at bringing new people into the sport, the hotel will offer ski-and-stay packages from $90, including room and lift ticket. Elsewhere in Vermont, the Topnotch Resort & Spa on 120 wooded acres in Stowe reopened last summer after a $15 million investment.
In the Rockies the latest addition to Telluride Ski and Snowboard Resort in Colorado is the Inn at Lost Creek, a 32-room boutique hotel located slopeside in Telluride’s Mountain Village. The inn has ski-in/ski-out access, a ski valet to whisk away your Volkls at day’s end and rooms that each feature a washer and dryer. Snow King Hotel, steps from the center of Jackson, Wyo., has finally gotten its much-needed upgrade. The 204-room hotel, which sits at the foot of Snow King Mountain, the locals’ hill (and minutes from the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort) recently completed a $17 million transformation that overhauled its rooms, exterior and spa. The new owner has also opened a restaurant, Hayden’s Post, and added floor-to-ceiling windows that provide 240-degree views of Snow King.South Lake Tahoe is in the midst of a grand transformation, from a sort of frayed casinoland to a cleaned-up place worthy of the lake it’s on. This season’s example: The Landing Resort and Spa, which opened this month. The resort, which replaces the former Royal Valhalla Lodge, is billed as the lake’s first five-star lakeside property.
Keeping people skiing and snowboarding (especially young ones) is a big focus now, and nearly everyone is rolling out new programs and promotions. At Tahoe, Squaw Valley’s new Teaching Tykes program is a great idea: Instructors well versed in teaching young children to ski or snowboard head out with both parent and child, giving tips to the kids while showing the parents the best way to teach them while eliminating frustration and conveying a passion for the sport. The program, aimed at ages 3 to 5, costs $169, including a one-hour lesson for parent and child, a beginner lift ticket for parent and child if age 5, (younger are already free) and kids’ ski or snowboard rentals.
Brighton, in Utah, is trying something novel: a girls-only terrain park. The park, Brighton’s fifth, is intended to let girls and women gain the confidence to shred (with occasional all-women’s camps and retreats) without feeling intimidated by the male-heavy presence at other parks and halfpipes.
This winter many resorts in the United States are swapping out older, slower lifts for faster ones with higher capacity and adding bigger lodges. Snowbird, above Salt Lake City, is putting in the only new chairlift in Utah. The original, tired Gad 2 chairlift, which accesses challenging skiing on the west side of the mountain, is being replaced with a high-speed detachable quad, which will cut the ride time in half.
Whistler-Blackcomb, in British Columbia, spent $18 million to upgrade two chairlifts to “high-speed” status.
As part of a multiyear project to enhance its high-alpine skiing, Copper Mountain, in Colorado, replaced the Storm King platter lift with a T-bar, doubling the number of people who can get to above-treeline Spaulding Bowl, Upper Enchanted Forest and Copper Bowl.
In Alaska, Alyeska Resort, outside Anchorage in Girdwood, has installed a high-speed detachable quad, Glacier Bowl Express, to replace beloved Chair 6, which accesses the upper trails at Alyeska.