Vail Resorts to invest $50 million in Park City Mountain Resort

Vail Resorts Inc. announced the company’s planned upgrades to Park City Mountain Resort for the 2015-2016 ski season. The plan, which totals over $50 million, is one of the most ambitious capital programs in U.S. ski industry history and will transform the guest experience at Park City Mountain Resort.

The plan would establish the connection between Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort, creating the largest single ski area in the country with more than 7,300 acres of skiable terrain, and complete a number of critical upgrades to the infrastructure of both resorts. The plan will be subject to approval by both Summit County and the City of Park City. Components of the $50-million capital plan include:

  • The Interconnect Gondola. An eight-passenger, high-speed two-way gondola from the base of the existing Silverlode Lift at Park City to the Flatiron Lift at Canyons. The gondola will also have an unload at the top of Pine Cone Ridge to allow skiers and riders the opportunity to ski into Thaynes Canyons at Park City via gated ski access or to the Iron Mountain area at Canyons through new trails that will be created from Pine Cone Ridge. This will mark the first gondola at Park City Mountain Resort since “The Gondola” was dismantled in 1997.
  • Upgrade of King Con and Motherlode Lifts at Park City. The King Con  Lift will be upgraded from a four-person to a six-person, high-speed detachable chairlift and will increase lift capacity to this very popular ski pod. The Motherlode Lift will be upgraded from a fixed-grip triple to a four-person, high-speed detachable chairlift, also increasing lift capacity. Both upgrades will reduce crowding, lift lines and improve the guest experience.
  • New Snow Hut Restaurant, Upgrades to Summit House Restaurant at Park City and Expansion of Red Pine Lodge Restaurant at Canyons. The plan calls for building a completely new Snow Hut restaurant at the base of the Silverlode Lift and next to the Park City terminal for the Interconnect Gondola, with 500 indoor seats and a top-of-the-line kitchen and culinary experience. The plan also includes an upgrade to the “scramble” area inside the Summit House restaurant to improve the flow of diners and increase seats. At Canyons, the Red Pine Restaurant will be renovated to accommodate an additional 250 indoor seats. This upgrade follows the recent renovation and increase of 150 seats to the Cloud Dine restaurant at Canyons.
  • Snowmaking and Other Improvements. The plan features additional snowmaking on two trails in the Iron Mountain area of Canyons which will become increasingly central ski terrain given its proximity to the Interconnect Gondola. The plan also includes almost $5 million of “catch up” maintenance and upgrades at Park City, given the lack of spending at the resort over the past few years. This “catch up” maintenance spending is in addition to the normal annual maintenance capital for the two resorts of $5 million, which will be undertaken this year as well.

“This comprehensive capital plan for Park City and Canyons is one of the most ambitious and impactful plans undertaken at any resort in industry history, transforming the experience at both resorts and creating the largest single ski resort in the U.S. with more than 7,300 acres of skiable terrain,” said Blaise Carrig, president of the mountain division for Vail Resorts.

“The improvements offer skiers and riders more terrain and upgraded lifts to enhance the guest experience and reduce crowding and lift lines, new and upgraded restaurants, more snowmaking and an overall ‘touching up’ of all aspects of the resorts,” Carrig said. “The plan was based on feedback from guests and the local community as well as discussions with the senior operating teams at the two resorts. We look forward to continuing to work with the county and the city and are hopeful we can bring this plan to life for the 2015-2016 ski season.”

For the 2015-2016 ski season, the company intends to operate the two resorts as one unified branded experience under the name “Park City Mountain Resort”. The Canyons base area will be renamed “Canyons at Park City”. The company will continue to maintain the unique history and atmosphere of the two base areas with differentiated marketing for the diverse hotel and hospitality experiences.

A detailed map of the plans can be downloaded here: https://vailresorts.box.com/s/jb7m1hcjek7bymfuofy4

Canyons Resort is great for intermediate and advanced skiers in Park City, Utah

By Correspondent Marlene Greer

The Canyons is immense and glorious for intermediate and advanced skiers, with so much variety of terrain to choose from, it’s not to be done in one day. At least not for me and my group of nine.

But there’s not much at Canyons for beginners. Just 10 percent of the trails are marked green, and those trails cover little of the ski area’s vast territory.

The Canyons, one of the three major ski resorts in Park City, Utah, is four miles from downtown Park City and 32 miles from the Salt Lake City Airport. Several shuttle services offer transportation from the airport to the resort and to Park City for a reasonable price. Free public buses from Park City run all day between Park City and Canyons.

If you like to ski groomers and opt to try Canyons on your own without a guide, pick up the daily grooming report at the base lodge. It’s invaluable.

Great guide leads us to best spots in Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah

Our mountain guide gave us great tips to ski better. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

Our mountain guide gave us great tips to ski better. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

By Correspondent Marlene Greer

When I’m not familiar with a ski area and I’m by myself, I like to sign up for a guided mountain tour. Canyons offers one daily at 10:30 a.m.

For me, a guided tour is a good way to get around and get to know the mountain without landing on a mogul minefield or finding myself looking over an abyss, thinking, “What am I doing here?”

Mountain guides know which runs are groomed and which runs are suitable that particular day for their group. I find the tours enjoyable and informative. Plus, I get to meet people from all over the world.

Our group of nine was a joyful band of good skiers who wanted to take it easy. No big bowls, no trees and definitely no moguls. Just nice, easy cruisers with good pitch and maybe some powder on the side.

We were a group of West Coasters — California, Oregon and Washington. Seems we were all fleeing the dry conditions in the West for the more favorable Utah snow.

Fortunately, we were graced with a fresh dusting of it — 6 inches of snow fell the day and night before, leaving a blush of powder over hard-packed groomed.

We wanted to see as much of the area as possible — boundary to boundary, as one skier in our group put it. A hardy task given the ski resort covers nine peaks and five bowls with 4,000 skiable acres and counts itself among the largest ski areas in the nation.

Roger Seaborn, our affable Australian tour guide, however, was unflappable. He took our request seriously. This was no tour for slackers.

With 182 trails to choose from, we got busy. With Roger leading the way, we managed to find one or two of the best blues, groomed double blues, and a bit of powder off each lift, skiing nearly end to end and top to bottom throughout the resort.

For those in the group who wanted a challenge here and there, Roger would stop on a run and point out another way down and we would all meet up at the bottom.

One place we skipped was the double-black terrain off the resort’s notorious Ninety-Nine 90 Express (so called because it rises to the resort’s highest elevation at 9,990 feet). This is expert-only terrain. Roger told us a couple of out-of-bounds skiers had triggered an avalanche on a bowl just outside the resort’s boundary only two days before.

Roger is also a certified instructor. Though it wasn’t part of the program, he offered ski tips to anyone in the group open to suggestions and improvement, which was all of us.

“Marlene, it’s your turn. Get in behind me,” he called out just as we were making our way off the Orange Bubble Express and down yet another nice groomer. “I want you to follow my tracks.”

Easier requested then accomplished. Roger was trying to get me to work on more rounded — and more graceful — turns. Others in the group he instructed to bend more at the knees, roll the ankles and lean more forward. I think the instructor in him just couldn’t help himself.

If he saw one of us doing something, he first asked permission in a nice way if you minded a little instruction — then proceeded to offer his advice, which we greatly appreciated.

Skiing 18.5 miles at the Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah

Scenic view from top of the Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

Scenic view from top of the Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

By Correspondent Marlene Greer 

“You’ve done 16,100 vertical feet and 31.7 miles,” reported Ed Kane during a mountain tour of Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah.

He had one of those $400 fancy oversized wristwatch gizmos that tracked his every ski move and recorded it for posterity. Plus for backup, he had a $1.29 app on his phone that did the same thing.

I’m not sure which one worked better. And since he and I skied on the same tour with the same guide, his end-of-the-day vertical was my vertical and his miles were my miles.

“Wow, 31 miles! I can’t believe we did that much skiing,” I replied. “We’ve covered so much of the mountain and didn’t even see it all. Thirty-one miles, that’s a marathon! And I don’t feel tired at all!”

I was so excited, I couldn’t wait to tell everyone I skied 31 miles in a day, and how much I enjoyed my excellent Canyons experience. Ed found my excitement a bit humorous and smiled as I went on and on.

Then came the bubble-burster.

“Ah… half of that was on a lift, though,” Ed informed me.

“So you mean I only went 15 miles?” I asked, thinking it didn’t sound nearly as impressive as the 31 miles I was already planning to post on Facebook.

“No. You did 18.5 miles,” he said with what might have been a hint of laughter.

If I had known Ed for more than the six hours we spent traversing the Canyons’ numerous slopes, I would have given him The Look. You know the one — the “Don’t get technical with me” look we reserve for those we know intimately.

Still, 18.5 miles didn’t sound too shabby. I could go with that. It was my first time skiing at Canyons.