In spite of the recent econonic slalom, many North American ski areas and resorts are upgrading and expanding. Read about the recent improvements:
Stowe Mountain of Vermont has added a new inter-mountain transfer lift, new trails, a new beginner area, 2 new high-speed detachable quads and new fully-automated snowmaking on Spruce Peak. Stowe Mountain Resort (www.stowe.com) opens its new Spruce Camp Base Lodge this winter, a sprawling alpine-chic complex with restaurants and bars, rental shops.Also, coming in the spring of 2008 is Stowe Mountain Lodge, the first mountainside luxury hotel to debut in the East in over 50 years – if owner AIG can continue funding the project.
Killington Resort (www.killington.com), also in Vermont, has added a Jake Burton-designed terrain park called the Stash. In Maine, Sunday River (www.sundayriver.com) is installing a new “chondola” – a lift that has both enclosed gondolas and traditional chairs. It will cut travel time to North Peak from 20 minutes to 7, and 70 new snow-making guns will ensure plenty of snow by the holidays.
Aspen/Snowmass (www.aspensnowmass.com) is in the middle of a $1 billion development of a base village at Snowmass, the largest of the four mountains that make up the huge resort. On the slopes, there’s the new Sheer Bliss quad lift, which provides quicker access to 700 acres of Snowmass.
Keystone Ski Resort (www.keystone.snow.com) promises to open an eight-person River Run Gondola this season, but a date has not been set. The lift follows the same line as the old six-person gondola, but the base was moved downhill to the River Run Village, saving skiers a slippery walk in the morning and allowing them to avoid the end-of-day rush hour by riding the gondola back down.
The Revelation quad chair at Telluride Ski Resort (www. tellurideskiresort.com) was tentatively planned for an opening ceremony this morning. The new lift means that skiers no longer need to hike to the legendary Revelation Bowl.
Taos Ski Valley is finally recognizing the future of the sport and is admitting snowboarders. That only leaves three old-school areas in the United States: Deer Valley and Alta in Utah, and Mad River Glen in Vermont.
In 2006, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming (www.jacksonhole.com) replaced its historic tram offline and this season, replaces it with a new, record breaking tram, boasting the largest, continual vertical rise of any lift at a U.S. ski resort. The tram is scheduled to begin operation on Dec. 20. Each red car has the ability to carry 100 people to the 10,450-foot summit of Rendezvous Mountain and its legendary black diamond terrain in about nine minutes – neither the skiing nor the ride is for the faint of heart.
The big news in Canada is still Revelstoke, North America’s newest — and tallest– ski resort, if you measure by vertical drop. The year-old resort is extending its main gondola and opening a base lodge this winter.
Opening with great fanfare is the new Peak 2 Peak gondola at Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia (www.whistlerblackcomb.com) set to begin operating this Friday. Built in preparation for the 2010 Olympics, the cable stretches 2.75 miles. An added attraction for the resort, Conde Nast in its annual ski poll named Whistler Blackcomb the best ski resort town in North America. Whistler Blackcomb also won for best apres-ski and activities, as well as for best local dining.