New projects bring Vail Resorts’ investment to $492 million

The 2013-14 winter ski and snowboard season is barely in the rearview mirror, but core enthusiasts and resort operators are already looking ahead to winter 2014-15.

With seven days to go in the spring season pass selling period, Vail Resorts is announcing many new resort improvements for its guests for next winter, including multiple express chairlifts and restaurants, room renovations and a one-of-a-kind snowmaking upgrade designed to automatically refresh snow surfaces throughout the season.

Vail Resorts anticipates spending approximately $85 million to elevate the guest experience for 2014-15, which brings its five-year resort investment total to $492 million.

“At Vail Resorts, we place the highest importance on offering an unparalleled guest experience, and investing nearly $500 million over the last five years is evidence of that,” said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer for Vail Resorts. “We’re very strategic about the projects we undertake and their overall impact on the guest experience at each of our 10 resorts. Each one of these projects is a game changer for the guests of that particular resort.”

Projects underway and planned this summer for the 2014-15 winter season include:

  • Beaver Creek Chair 6 Combination Liftand Snowmaking Upgrades – The new combination gondola/six-passenger express lift replaces Centennial Express, Beaver Creek’s primary portal. With one gondola cabin for every five chairs, the new combination lift offers a guest-friendly loading option for beginners and Ski and Snowboard School, and all guests will benefit from the 35 percent increase in uphill capacity. In addition, 34 new, fully-automated, state-of-the-art snowmaking guns will line Gold Dust and Lower Larkspur trails to automatically refresh the snow surface conditions throughout the season. This one-of-a-kind system ensures, regardless of natural snowfall, the resorts’ guests will always be skiing or riding on the freshest snow available every day.
  • Breckenridge Colorado Super Chairand Peak 9 Restaurant Renovation – On the heels of launching Peak 6 last season, the ski industry’s most significant terrain expansion in the last decade, upgrading the Colorado Super Chair from a quad express to a six-passenger express will provide a 30 percent increase in capacity for Peak 8’s primary and most-used lift. It will help disperse skiers to the surrounding peaks and provides a faster route from Peaks 6 and 7 to Peak 9, where an entire interior remodel of the existing Peak 9 restaurant, along with a new kitchen will provide a warm, welcoming, high-quality guest experience at the resort’s most scenic dining location, sitting at 11,274 feet.
  • The Lodge at Vail Renovation– Vail’s most historic hotel, The Lodge at Vail, A RockResort, will undergo significant renovations to 56 hotel rooms and the lobby for the 2014-15 winter season, including contemporary mountain interior finishes, furnishings, soft goods, lighting and the installation of air conditioning. The lobby’s refresh will include new furnishings, textiles, paint, artwork and lighting designed to maintain the boutique hotel’s authentic character and cozy ambiance. The property will remain open for business during the renovations, starting in August and completing in December.
  • Canyons Cloud Dineand Snowmaking Expansion – Heading into its second year of operating Canyons, Vail Resorts is replacing the temporary Cloud Dine structure with a permanent, 316-seat restaurant, a 41 percent increase in seating capacity. Cloud Dine is the only on-mountain restaurant serving the Dream Peak and Iron Mountain lift pods. Upgrading Canyons’ pump station will increase snowmaking efficiency by 25 percent and will enable top-to-bottom skiing and superior early-season snow surface conditions.

Park City adventure: Sun and fun at Canyons ski resort

By Staff Writer Richard Irwin

Canyons is a huge ski resort on the edge of Park City, Utah. The resort made the top 10 ranking in Ski magazine’s reader resort awards for 2014.

And SnoWonder would have to agree after a great day of skiing on our first stop of our Park City adventure. We couldn’t wait for the lifts to open at 9 a.m. on a slightly overcast morning.

Jumping on the Red Pine Gondola, we were soon halfway up the mountain. After that, it was all down hill, as we shred the groomed runs. The highest peak is the Ninety-Nine 90, which is appropriately 9,990 feet above sea level.

We had a fun day working our way up and down the mountain with the sun finally breaking through for a gorgeous day. The trails were well groomed, letting carve long curves in the snowy surface.

Canyons offers everything from high speed 6-packs to simple double chairlifts. We never found a line at the lifts, allowing us to jump on as soon as we hit bottom.

The slopes were also wide open this week before Presidents Day. Often we were the only skiers in sight.

The resort even breaks down the runs more than most ski resorts. Canyons designates double greens for advanced beginners, as well as double greens for advanced intermediate. This helps take the guesswork out of picking a trail.

We especially liked The Aspens with its nice mix of intermediate and advanced ski runs. We steered clear of Condor Woods with more than a dozen double black diamond trails. Yes, these are for experts only.

We were pretty beat by 3 p.m. on the first day of our Park City adventure. That was fine because the lifts close at 4 p.m.

It was a great start to our tour of the ski resorts in this section of Utah. We’ll have a feature story with more details when we get back to Los Angeles.

Join us tomorrow when we explore Park City ski resort.