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Report: Winter Park Targets Luxury Skiers for 2010-2011 SeasonAugust 17, 2010 By: Kirk Cassels
The Village Cabriolet at Winter Park Resort
New York City— As the 2010-2011 ski/snowboard season approaches, Travel Agent is keeping in tune with the latest developments at properties across the country. We recently sat down with Mistalynn Lee, communications manager for Winter Park Resort in Colorado, and learned some valuable selling points about the ski destination that agents can pitch to their clients.
For most, the least pleasurable part of a ski vacation (particularly those in the Rocky Mountain State) is the time it takes to get from airport to resort, and back. If your ski/snowboard clients don't want to waste a minute, tell them that Winter Park is the closest major ski resort to Denver International Airport. With a little luck, travelers can deplane and be on the slopes within two hours via car rental or the property's airport shuttle.
If your clients anticipate a late arrival in Denver or, perhaps, aren't as eager to make the jump from airplane cabin to chairlift, they should know that Winter Park has a partnership with the luxury boutique property The Oxford Hotel, where they can stay the night before transferring to Winter Park in the morning.
Winter Park is home to the highest six-passenger chairlift, the Panoramic Express, in North America. In the last four years, six new chairlifts have been erected and all operate on wind credits (which will make the green traveler happy). Nearly 30 feet of snow falls each year across the 3,078 acres and 145 trails.
Opening for the second year now is the 20,000-square-foot Village, which adds new eateries and retailers, 14 luxury loft units and 200 condominium units, all surrounding an ice skating pond and event gazebo. The highest-end accommodations can be found in either Zephyr Mountain Lodge rooms or the Fraser Crossing & Founders Pointe condominiums. Both properties are ski in/ski out and offer luxury amenities such as free Wifi, gas fireplaces, and a fully equipped kitchen. According the Lee, the Zephyr has a more "mountain feel" with its red plaid design while Fraser Crossing & Founders Pointe feature a more modern design.
New restaurants in the village include the Cheeky Monk Belgian Beer Cafe (which features 14 Belgian beers on tap) and Lime (Southwestern cuisine by day, nightclub by dark). Lee told us that the resort's premier dining establishment (and wedding venue) on the top of the mountain, The Lodge at Sunspot, will receive a facelift, including an environmentally-friendly deck, in time for its 20th anniversary in 2012.
To get around in style, we suggest dropping the car off at the free parking lot and riding the Village Cabriolet into the center of the Village.
The core of Winter Park's clientele is families and groups. Free activities for families at night, lodging with parents and kids in mind, and a focus on ski school for kids make the bread and butter for multi-generational travel to the resort. Group travelers, meanwhile, can take advantage of the resort's free ticket for every 25 bought. Agents with handicapped or disabled clients should note that Winter Park is home to one of the world's largest and oldest disabled skiing programs, the National Sports Center for the Disabled.
But as the 2010-2011 ski season approaches, Winter Park is beginning to cater to luxury skiers. In addition to the affluent accoomodations at Zephyr and Fraser Crossing & Founders Pointe, the latest pitch to affluent travelers is the upcoming ski performance center, schedule to open this December. Travel Agent got a peek at the blueprints of this property, which looks as if it will be as large as an average mountain base lodge. Inside are a kids section, a lounge area and a media room which, thanks to helmet cams used during lessons, will display instructional videos to skiers which are analyzed by instructors that day.
In addition to customized lessons, the performance center will also provided tailored equipment. For instance, the custom foot beds will aid skiers in stepping out of their shoes and into ski boots that won't hurt the feet nor disrupt the lesson. On top of that, resort ambassadors will bring boots, rental and lesson paperwork and pre-booked lift tickets to guests at their accommodations the night before they ski/ride. "No more lugging around before hitting the slopes," Lee told us.
Owned by the City and County of Denver, and operated by Intrawest, Winter Park is in a position to tout its value to families and the budget-minded traveler while rolling out the new luxury initiatives. Stay tuned to Travel Agent as we report more on these resort developments, as well as some deals (i.e. four nights for the price of three), as the 2010-2011 ski/snowboard season approaches.