Intrawest plans to transform Copper Mountain By Laura Del Rosso / November 27, 2001 Share 1 -- COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. -- This ski resort has traditionally drawn day-trippers from the Denver area, but its owner, Canada-based Intrawest, plans to transform it into a mountain destination resort over the next several years. Intrawest recently unveiled a proposal for a hotel and condominiums and a 70,000-square-foot entertainment complex to include a conference center, all to be built at the base of the Copper Mountain ski area. An Intrawest spokeswoman said the company "does not talk about development figures." Intrawest also said it is too soon to discuss potential opening dates for the project, which must be approved by local authorities. The plans released deal with a variety of issues, including transportation, the environment, housing, recreation, cultural facilities and civic services. One part of the project is a high-capacity gondola, which will connect the parking areas with the pedestrian village. It would be the first of its kind in the state. Those plans already have been approved, and construction of the gondola system could start within the year, according to the spokeswoman.The central village area, called Wheeler Junction, would include a central check-in, skier services, a chapel and a post office. It also would include the entertainment complex, which would encompass two performance halls, a recording studio and a conference center. Intrawest also is proposing condominiums, and "we are hoping to attract a flagship hotel," said the spokeswoman.The new plans follow a multimillion-dollar project completed last year by Intrawest, which purchased Copper Mountain in 1997. That project, considered the first phase of the transformation of the resort into a full-service mountain village, saw the construction of a pedestrian village that connects five existing condominium hotels and retail areas.Last winter, Copper Mountain sold nearly 1 million lift tickets. The resort estimates that about half were skiers on day trips from the Denver area.Paul Stashick, Intrawest corporate vice president, said in a statement: "Copper Mountain has undergone a transformation over the past several years, from a great ski mountain to a first-rate resort. The next phase will take it to a higher level, creating world class, year-round experiences for visitors."Intrawest is a specialist in building village-centered mountain resorts, having developed some of North America's most acclaimed resorts, including Whistler/Blackcomb in British Columbia. In North America, the Vancouver-based company owns the ski areas at Mammoth, Calif., and Tremblant, Quebec.In addition, Intrawest is the developer of village centers at the following ski resorts: Snowmass Village and Keystone, Colo.; Solitude, Utah, and Squaw Valley, Calif.