Sugar Bowl is rated a sweet place to tie the knot on the slopes

While offering skiing and snowboarding in the winter, Sugar Bowl also is a popular wedding venue throughout the year. (Sugar Bowl Resort photo)

While offering skiing and snowboarding during the winter, Sugar Bowl also is a popular wedding venue throughout the year. (Sugar Bowl Resort photo)

Sugar Bowl isn’t just a place for skiing and snowboarding. It’s also for weddings, as the resort recently earned three awards – including its fourth consecutive “Best of Weddings” award – from The Knot, the nation’s most visited wedding planning website.

Sugar Bowl also was inducted into The Knot’s Best of Weddings Hall of Fame, making it one of only six venues the Sacramento/Lake Tahoe/Reno area to earn the distinction.

Wedding experts at The Knot select the annual award from top venues nominated by the site’s brides. Venues selected for a Best of Weddings award four or more times receive an honorary place in the Hall of Fame.

Sugar Bowl’s wedding venue, a secluded mountain lodge with an adjoining private lake, is just hours from the Bay Area, and run by expert staff noted for their attention to detail and personalized approach to wedding planning, according to the resort.

In addition to being recognized by The Knot, Sugar Bowl also was selected for a 2015 WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Award, ranking it among the top 5 percent of venues listed on the website. The recognition is given based on reviews by couples who chose Sugar Bowl as their wedding venue. Dozens of brides and grooms gave Sugar Bowl high ratings for attributes such as “responsiveness,” “professionalism” and “value.”

Tahoe Unveiled also included Sugar Bowl in its Top 5 Receptions of 2014 for “Venue with the Best View.” Tahoe Unveiled was impressed by photographs of a wedding reception at Sugar Bowl that illustrated the rich depth of the scenery experienced by a newlywed couple and its party.

The resort’s High Sierra location features blooming wildflowers, a rolling creekside lawn, and large, open-air fire pits. Sugar Bowl also offers unique details like a private chairlift ride to the top of Mt. Disney for drinks and appetizers on a mountaintop sundeck.

“Sugar Bowl is honored to be selected numerous times this year as an award-winning wedding venue by the brides who have been married here,” said Meghon Shrewsbury, wedding and event manager for Sugar Bowl Resort. “Wedding parties choose Sugar Bowl because of the resort’s unmatched natural beauty and the secluded and intimate setting, but also because our wedding staff is dedicated to getting each detail perfect.”

Sugar Bowl is celebrating its 75th anniversary as a ski resort. On Feb. 14, the popular destination will host its anniversary celebration at Mt. Judah Lodge. There will be live music, numerous activities, and giveaways.

Information: www.sugarbowl.com/weddings

Lake Tahoe resorts score big during the holidays

By Bob Goligoski

Blessed by early December snow storms and sunny bluebird days during the Christmas-New Year’s Day span, Lake Tahoe area resorts saw the biggest holiday crowds in four years.

“The ski resort business in the Sierra over the holiday period was up substantially over last year, and the resorts had more people coming since the holiday season in 2010-2011,” said Bob Roberts, CEO of the California Ski Industry Association.

Cold nighttime temperatures during most of December allowed the resorts to generate plenty of additional snow with snow-making systems that resorts have been expanding in recent years.

A report from Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows corporate headquarters was typical of comments from Sierra resorts. “With all of the early season snow – 110 inches total at 8,000-feet in December – we saw great crowds over the holidays and New Year’s, including locals driving to the resorts and visitors staying in the Village at Squaw Valley,” said Melissa Brouse Matheney, a spokeswoman for Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows. “We were even able to run the aerial tram until 7 p.m. Dec. 27-30 so guests could get some turns in under the lights.”

In years gone by, many Sierra ski resorts collected a third of their annual revenue during the Christmas holiday season. But now, explained Roberts, a resort may generate half of its annual ticket sales with the early season sale of annual lift passes.

Many skiers and riders have discovered that if they only get out on the slopes five or six days a season, that pretty well pays for the price of an annual pass, he added.

All of the 27 ski resorts in the association had enough snow to open for the holiday season.

Skyway to Heavenly invades Los Angeles

Heavenly Mountain Resort will host a rocking après ski party in Los Angeles on Thursday. A group of four lucky friends from the City of Angels will head directly to the airport from the party to embark on their own all-expenses paid ski and party trip of a lifetime to Heavenly.

Heavenly will ignite the après ski-themed party with casino games, drink specials, giveaways, shot skis, and the gorgeous Heavenly Angels.

“Skyway to Heavenly has become a staple in the L.A. area, with its high-energy vibe and small taste of what a ski trip to Heavenly and South Lake Tahoe is all about,” said John Wagnon, Heavenly’s senior director of marketing. “Attendees should come prepared to ‘Go All In’ in an effort to win the ultimate ski trip.”

Heavenly will bring Tahoe to LA on Jan. 15, as the party starts at Busby’s West at 8:30 p.m. with three unique qualifiers to win at the party*: most liked Instagram photo tagged with #HeavenlyOrBust; highest casino winnings; top two most creative photos in the Heavenly photo booth.

The winners of each method will proceed to the final round – a sudden death flip cup race. Chug. Flip. Win. Get on a plane and go.

The weekend trip for four, valued at more than $10,000, includes a roundtrip flight on a private jet to South Lake Tahoe airport, a three-night stay at MontBleu Resort Casino and Spa, three days of skiing or riding at Heavenly with equipment and lift tickets included, a mountain tour, $450 spending money and a $75 mountain money voucher per person, VIP admission and table reservation at MontBleu nightclubs, on-call concierge, and a reserved table at Unbuckle at Tamarack après ski party. Everything will be over-the-top and out-of-control.

It could be the unforgettable trip you won’t remember.

From the DJ cat to Unbuckle après parties featuring the lovely Heavenly Angels, Heavenly’s events exude high energy.

On April 4, 2015, High Roller Hold ‘Em will take place on World Cup run featuring Olympic athletes like Sage Kotsenburg, Billy Morgan and Chas Guldemond. Infusing an X Games-worthy big air competition with a little South Lake Tahoe casino gambling twist, High Roller Hold ’Em features a monster big-air jump, a $50,000 jackpot, and, the highest stake, a 2016 X Games Big Air event exemption for the overall winner.

*All qualifiers and winners must be 21-or-over.

Squaw Valley opens 3 glades by removing trees

By Bob Goligoski, Correspondent

Squaw Valley has removed more than 5,000 dead or diseased trees from its lower mountain enabling it to open three new glade area for skiers and snowboarders.

About 100 acres of new terrain was added to the slopes with the addition of the three new tree skiing areas – Red Dog Glades, Paris Glades and Heidi’s Glades.

The tree removal project, which employed the use of helicopters to remove the trees, also added a new connector trail off the Champs Elysees run to give skiers and riders easy access into the new glades.

All the new terrain, rated upper-intermediate to expert, is in the Red Dog region of the resort. Access into the area previously had been very limited because of the dense population of standing or fallen trees.

“The current drought and the King Fire bring into sharp focus the issue of forest health and how it affects our community right here in Squaw,” said Peter Bansen, Squaw Valley fire chief.

“Thinning provided valuable benefits by effectively utilizing the available water for the most viable trees and the removal of dead or diseased trees dramatically reduced the risk of fire,” Bransen said.

He added, “While this work was expensive for a private landowner, our community will benefit from Squaw’s investment in fuels reduction and forest health and I commend the company for doing the right thing.”

Most of the trees were processed for timber use and other tree material was chipped for further use at the resort. By using helicopters for the work, there was no need to skid or drag the fallen trees along the ground in sensitive areas, thus minimizing adverse environmental impact.

“Our goal was to return the forested areas in the Red Dog region back to a more natural and healthy state by removing potentially dangerous overgrowth and deadfall. Although the project was costly, it was worth the investment to improve the environment while also improving skiing and riding at the resort,” said Mike Livak, executive vice president of Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows.

Heavenly offers ultimate holiday experience

Enjoy the ultimate holiday experience to Heavenly Mountain Resort this season, where twirling ice skaters, chainsaw-sculpted ice displays, and world-class fireworks will stir up the energy of the holiday season in Heavenly Village.

Co-produced by Tahoe South, the fourth annual Heavenly Holidays will feature 12 days of festivities beginning with photos with Santa in his snow globe and ending with a glittering New Year’s celebration with the sparkling Gondola Drop to ring in the New Year.

“The spirit of the season really comes to life during Heavenly Holidays. It’s a first-class experience with something that everyone can enjoy,” said Pete Sonntag, vice president and COO of Heavenly. “This time of year is all about spending time with family and friends, and Heavenly Holidays gives you the opportunity to go all in with a full day spent on the mountain and a full event roster in Heavenly Village.”

With more snow storms in the forecast and the power of the West Coast’s largest snowmaking system behind it, Heavenly is proud to provide holiday guests with fantastic snow surface conditions for skiing and riding.

After experiencing Heavenly’s 3,500 vertical feet of terrain above soaring views of Lake Tahoe, guests continue their adventure with daily festivities in Heavenly Village, leading up to the final blow out at the New Year’s Eve Celebration.

Santa’s Workshop Snow Globe – December 20-24, 2:00-7:00 p.m.
Enter Santa’s 16 foot snow globe to share your holiday wish list and snap a photo with the man himself.

Ice Skating Spectacular – December 28-30, 7:30 p.m.
Unique performances featuring some of the best figure skaters in the country will take place at the Heavenly Village Ice Rink.

Fear-No-Ice Sculpting – December 28-30, 10 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Catch the chainsaws in action while Heavenly Village gets a makeover with dazzling ice sculpture displays by talented artists each day.

New Year’s Eve Celebration – December 31, 6:00-9:00 p.m.
The pinnacle of Heavenly Holidays will come alive with the celebration of the New Year. The Fire Groove fire dancers will be spinning flames to a live performance by Wes Quave, while the energy of the night continues with games, face-painting and a photo booth to archive all the amusement of the night. The “Fear-No-Ice” sculptors will bust out their saws to carve their crowning glory for the New Year. Heavenly’s Gondola Drop will descend over the crowd at 9:00 p.m., when families celebrate in concurrence with the midnight Ball Drop in New York City’s Time Square. The brightly lit gondola cabin soars over the crowd while the fireworks dazzle in the sky above, capturing the wonder of kids and adults alike. Guests looking to go all in on New Year’s Eve can gear up for a full night in the variety of clubs, bars and casinos that South Lake Tahoe is famous for.

Book a Heavenly Holiday Vacation!
Heavenly Mountain Resort is the ultimate holiday destination, with 12 days of vibrant events, 3,500 vertical feet of skiing and riding, and endless dining and nightlife options. Visit www.skiheavenly.com for details on vacation packages.

EpicDay Lift Tickets: Buy Online. Skip the Line.
EpicDay Lift Tickets offers up to 25% savings on advanced purchase lift tickets at Heavenly and across Vail Resorts via the new EpicDay Lift Tickets platform. Tickets can be purchased through an easy-to-use online and mobile site, www.skiheavenly.com/epicday, and picked up at an EpicDay Express Ticket Pick-Up window at the resort. Additional days can be added online, avoiding a return trip to the ticket window. EpicDay Lift Tickets reward advanced planning with the lowest guaranteed price and less time spent in the ticket line.

Snow alert! Storm brings powder to Tahoe resorts with more on the way

 

A skier glides through the trees at Squaw Valley, where the slopes are expected to receive another 2 feet of snow by Thursday. (Squaw Valley photo)

A skier glides through the trees at Squaw Valley, where the slopes are expected to receive another 2 feet of snow and perhaps even more by Thursday. (Squaw Valley photo)

The winter storm that moved through Northern California late Friday has dropped 8 inches of fresh snow on Squaw Valley’s mid-mountain and 14 inches at Alpine Meadows, with snow still falling at both mountains.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the snowfall is expected to continue throughout the week with nearly three feet of new snow possible in the upper elevations by Thursday. 

Squaw Valley is open for the 2014-15 winter season with five lifts for skiing and riding, along with scenic Aerial Tram rides, snowtubing, ice skating, yoga, shopping and dining. Alpine Meadows is set open Friday, Dec. 12.

Heavenly Ski Resort ready to open Friday in Lake Tahoe

Opening-Day-Blog

Opening Day is Friday at Heavenly Ski Resort! The countdown to the 2014-2015 ski and ride season is almost over.

The first skiers and riders of the season will load the Heavenly Gondola at 9 a.m. Get here early and stay late- they’ll be raffling off free snowboards, skis, Smith goggles, and a GoPro in the Gondola line and at Unbuckle.

The Gondola and Tamarack Express will give access to 14 acres and 1.5 miles of skiable terrain on California Trail to Tamarack Return. For park fanatics, there will be a variety of terrain park features on the left side of California Trail.

Ski and ride school will offer a few different lesson options. For specifics on what those products are, give our school a call at 1-800-HEAVENLY, press 7.

Heavenly’s snowmaking team has been hard at work making snow whenever the wet bulb temperature allows, and our grooming team has taken advantage of the huge whales (piles) of snow to cover the trails and prep the lift ramps and access areas for opening.

Opening Day kicks off at 8 a.m. at the bottom of the Gondola in Heavenly Village with a live DJ, the Heavenly Angels, giveaways, and free Heavenly Donuts. Get there early because the first 100 guests will get Heavenly Swag and will be entered into a pre-opening raffle for a pair of skis or snowboard.

At the first Unbuckle at Tamarack après party of the season at 3:30 p.m., the first 100 guests will also receive a raffle ticket for a pair of skis or snowboard, a GoPro and Smith goggles, as well as Hard Rock Hotel and Casino swag.

The California Base Lodge will be available for free parking. We will be running free shuttles every 20 minutes between the Cal Base and the Gondola.

 

New nonstop service from London to Lake Tahoe ski resorts

In partnership with Ski Lake Tahoe, Thomas Cook Airlines has today announced the UK’s first non-stop air service, from London Gatwick (LGW) to Reno (RNO), with the first flights taking place in December 2015.

The twice weekly service to Reno from Gatwick, opening up a host of ski holidays for UK travellers, departs on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  The flights begin on Dec. 19, 2015 and runs until 9th April 2016.

“It’s fantastic news that we’re able to offer skiers from the UK the first ever non-stop flights to Reno-Tahoe, opening Lake Tahoe as a real option for their winter break.  On top of our new routes to Miami and New York next summer and our brand new Premium cabin, we’re leading the way in offering a quality experience at great prices for the discerning traveller heading to the USA,” said Christoph Debus, CEO, Thomas Cook Airlines.

Andy Wirth, the Vice Chairman of the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, said the combination of incredible skiing and Reno-area casinos will make the new flight a unique and unforgettable experience for travellers.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Thomas Cook Airlines and Great Britain to the Reno-Tahoe International Airport,” Wirth said “With this unparalleled nonstop convenience and a world class travel partner in Thomas Cook, this flight really opens up one of the best skiing markets in the world, the United Kingdom, to Lake Tahoe and the great casinos and night life of Reno.”

Reno-Tahoe International Airport is one the closest airports to major ski resorts in North America. Passengers can see ski runs from the airport’s runways upon landing and it is a quick 45 minute to 1-hour drive from airport baggage claim to the ski lifts. The flight will be contingent upon approval of landing rights by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Lake Tahoe is where North America’s largest concentration of World-class ski resorts lie within majestic mountains featuring jaw-dropping cliffs, serene glades and stunning views.

Skiers can choose from Heavenly, Kirkwood, Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe, Northstar California, Sierra-at-Tahoe and Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows.  With 400 inches of snow a year and over 600 unparalleled runs with 113 lifts on 17,000 acres, Lake Tahoe is a skiing and snowboarding paradise, with endless ways to have fun après ski.

Thomas Cook Airlines has recently released further details of its new cabin experience for customers on its Airbus A330 long haul fleet, with brand new Economy and Premium services bringing a great value product to long haul customers on its flights from May 2015.  To view a film of the new Thomas Cook Airlines cabins click here.

Christoph Debus continued, “Our brand new long haul Economy cabins and service will challenge perceptions of our airline, and our new Premium will ensure skiers can experience a great range of services, flying in style to their winter break in Lake Tahoe.”

Starting this week, holidays and flights to Reno/Lake Tahoe on refurbished A330 aircraft – including the new Premium service – can be booked via www.thomascookairlines.com and www.thomascook.com,

California ski, snowboard resorts get a Halloween treat: snow!

The Village at Squaw Valley became a winter wonderland this morning as several inches of snow fell at the resort and throughout the Lake Tahoe area. (Squaw Valley photo)

The Village at Squaw Valley became a winter wonderland this morning as several inches of snow fell at the resort and elsewhere in the Lake Tahoe area. (Squaw Valley photo)

About the time kids were trick-or-treating on Friday night, mountain resorts throughout California were starting to get a special treat: snow. In some cases, it was the first white stuff of the season, raising hopes that the lengthy drought – fingers crossed – will come to an end this winter. There certainly was lots of excitement to go around:

Mountain High: The first snow of the season fell this morning at Mountain High Resort giving the area a crisp glow and solidifying the coming of winter. Traditionally, Mountain High opens in mid-November but it all depends on the season. Three times in the past 10 years, the Wrightwood resort has opened in October. Mountain High’s 10-year average is a Nov. 16 opening. For a gallery of “first snow of the season” photos, click here.

Heavenly: Winter has arrived at Tahoe, and Heavenly Mountain Resort received 3 inches of new snow overnight. 

Northstar: Three inches of fresh snow has accumulated and snow continues to fall. Temperatures have remained in the low 20s and the mountain’s snowmaking team has activated Northstar’s state-of-the-art snowmaking system. The National Weather Service has forecast an 80 percent chance of snow throughout the remainder of the day and into the evening, with expected additional accumulation of up to 3 inches. Snow showers are predicted for Sunday at a 20 percent chance.

Sierra-at-Tahoe: The resort received as much as 6 inches of snow overnight in the base area near the new Solstice Plaza. Early season snowfall is a reminder that winter and the ski and snowboard season are right around the corner.

Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows: The winter storm sweeping through the Sierra Nevada has brought 10 inches of fresh snow to Alpine Meadows’ upper mountain and 6 inches to Squaw Valley by late Saturday morning, with snow continuing to fall at both mountains. This is the first significant snowfall of the 2014-15 winter season, and comes less than a month before Squaw Valley’s scheduled opening date of Nov. 26. Alpine Meadows is expected to open on Dec. 12.

Heavenly Mountain making snow for Nov. 21 opening

In addition to 2” of natural snow during the weekend, Heavenly Mountain Resort has fired up the West Coast’s largest and most powerful snowmaking system and has begun making snow in anticipation of a Nov. 21 opening day.

The snowmaking system ran for seven hours over night Sunday, blowing snow at the top of the Gondola, as well as on California Trail, Orion and Tamarack return.

“Cold temperatures and natural snowfall have been building the buzz around the upcoming season, and now that snowmaking has begun, we are full steam ahead with more than four decades of snowmaking experience and expertise at our backs,” said Pete Sonntag, vice president and COO of Heavenly. “We will open on November 21 with the some of the best snow surface conditions at Lake Tahoe.”

Heavenly’s extensive snowmaking system is capable, under optimum conditions, of producing three-and-a-half feet of snow across one acre in an hour and can cover 73 percent of the resort’s 97 trails in machine-made snow.

Heavenly is expanding its snowmaking capabilities this season by adding snowmaking to Easy Street, a beginner run at the top of the Gondola. A spur line has also been added from the top of Dipper Express that allows Heavenly to make snow on Skyline Trail near the top of Milky Way Bowl.

This will make it possible to open Skyline Trail earlier in the season and provide skiers and riders access to both California and Nevada earlier than ever before.

The resort also added three new fan guns to the fleet, increasing the total number of energy efficient fan guns the resort has to 67. These new SMI Puma fan guns are more energy efficient and also more efficient on the production side.

Heavenly kicks off the 2014-15 ski and ride season on Friday, November 21, with opening day and the first Unbuckle at Tamarack après party of the season.

Unbuckle takes place daily from 3:30-5:30 p.m. with a live DJ, half-priced drinks, giveaways, food specials, lots of dancing and, exclusively on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the lovely Heavenly Angels.

The party continues with Winter Ignite on the weekends of December 5-6 and 12-13, culminating in a free concert by Young The Giant in Heavenly Village on December 13 at 7:00 p.m.

Winter Ignite will jumpstart the 2014-2015 ski and ride season with pop-up DJ Cat and Unbuckle après kick-off parties, the Pretty Faces movie premier and comedy from Daniel Tosh at MontBleu Resort Casino and Spa on Friday, December 12. For more information, go to skiheavenly.com/winterignite.