What's New at U.S. Ski Resorts

Araphoe Basin
Araphoe Basin // Photo by Dave Camara

With winter around the corner, ski resorts across the U.S. are putting the final touches on their preparations for the upcoming busy season. Many resorts use the off season to complete renovations, like adding new lifts, making adjustments to trails, renovating resorts and restaurants and more. For those interested in ski resorts, now is the time to start booking trips to the mountains for the 2016-2017 winter season. Here are some updates to keep in mind while getting ready for an upcoming trip.

Wolf Creek Ski Area, in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, is debuting a new lift for the 2016-2017 season called the Lynx Lift, which will link the existing base area to a new teaching area. At the top of the Lynx Lyft terminal building will be a ski school greeting area facility, designed to better assist beginner skiers. Other improvements on site include the repaving of a portion of the Tranquility Parking Lot and other damaged areas with nearly 2,600 tons of asphalt. The resort has also increased its ski and snowboard rental fleet with new demos, sport and standard models from top manufacturers in the industry. There have also been cosmetic improvements made to the base area buildings as well as the Bonanza Lift. The ski area also upgraded from traditional cash registers to a new point-of-sale system in its food and beverage department. New to the online reservation system include the opportunity to book ski school lessons and access to the entire rental fleet online.

Hotel Terra Jackson Hole, the boutique four-diamond retreat at the base of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in the heart of Teton Village, recently unveiled a completely renovated lobby which increased public space by 50 percent and created an expanded place for guests to gather, socialize and relax. The million-dollar renovation included a spacious lounge that also serves as a vibrant après ski bar in the winter. The focal point of the new lobby is an art installation by local artist Ben Roth that creates a striking canopy overhead. Below the canopy sits casual, bench-style banquettes which anchor the installation. The new lobby, designed and built by Seattle-based designer Erin Langan and Jackson-based firms Gilday Architects and Two Ocean Builders, uses a mix of locally-inspired materials, textiles and artwork, designed to bring the outdoors in.

Vail Resorts continues to invest in its portfolio of properties, including an approximate $100 million investment into bettering the guest experience. Since the 2011-2012 season, Vail Resorts has invested $500 million into facets of the company’s 11 U.S. mountain resorts. At Vail’s Breckenridge Ski Resort, a new, 490-seat restaurant, Pioneer Crossing, is opening just steps from the Independence SuperChair on Peak 7. The restaurant, whose design highlights the mining history of Breckenridge’s past, is set to open December 2016 and offers a variety of choices, including made to order salads and Mediterranean options. Vail Mountain is also debuting its ninth new chairlift within the last 10 years during the 2016-2017 season, replacing the Sun Up Lift with a four-passenger, high-speed chairlift, now called the Sun Up Express. The new lift increases capacity of the former lift by 65 percent as well as cuts the average ride time in half, from eight minutes to four. At The Pine Lodge, a RockResort in Beaver Creek, 60 hotel rooms will undergo renovation for the new season designed to complement the property’s other new renovations and upgrades of soft goods, the lobby area, meeting spaces and restaurant, Grouse Mountain Grill.

Squaw Valley, in Olympic Valley, California, (in the North Lake Tahoe region), recently announced a partnership with China’s Genting Secret Garden Resort, the future home for the snowboarding and freestyle events of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. The strategic alliance will provide exclusive discounts for season pass holders, including five free days of skiing. Squaw has also expanded its ticketing services with the addition of a new, permanent ticket center in the Aerial Tram lobby, now with eight fixed locations to increase ease and convenience of the purchase process. Two additional portable ticket stations are now available at The Mountain Stream ticketing location next to the Uncorked Wine Bar, to be open on peak days and weekends. A new app from Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows will offer real-time life, trail and snow data for iPhone and Android, along with features including real-time group tracking, compiling individual season data like total vertical climbs and lifts skied, as well as chairlift wait times and a responsive navigation map that points out key locations in relation to the user.

Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort spent the summer spending $35 million on capital improvements, like rebuilding its Creekside Lodge. The lodge, in Gad Valley at Snowbird Entry 1, is undergoing a massive reconstruction to triple the square footage of the building. The new facility with be the base of operations for all Snowbird Mountain Ski and Snowboard School lessons. A new 500-foot conveyor lift will assist skiers and riders in getting from the new Creekside Lodge to Snowbird’s Baby Thunder lift at the far western edge of the resort. Over the summer Snowbird also replaced its 40-year-old tram cables and installed a fiber optic line into the cable. The new line will boost the resorts online webcams to high definition and speed up the resort’s free Wi-Fi at the Summit Lodge atop the tram. Snowbird is also set to complete the full remodel of its Cliff Lodge, the flagship slope side lodging property, in time for the 2016-2017 season.