Early snow and redos boost optimism at Colorado resorts

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It's snowing in Colorado, and officials at the state's ski areas and resorts can barely contain themselves in their eagerness to get the 2007-2008 season started. Aspen/Snowmass, which received nearly three feet of snow in October, is gearing up to unveil $25.5 million in improvements for the upcoming season. The first phase of the new base village at Snowmass will include the opening of the Treehouse Kids' Adventure Center.

The two-story facility, situated at the intersection of the three new lifts on Fanny Hill, will open in time for the upcoming season.

Also new this year is the Elk Camp Meadows learning area, which will feature a new quad chair, two surface lifts and a ski school meeting area for beginners.

The area will be at the top of the Elk Camp gondola and intends to offer novices better snow conditions than a traditional bunny hill.

Also, there will be no cross-trail traffic in the area to ensure a safe learning environment.

At Beaver Creek, changes this year include a new environmental education program called Ski With a Ranger, which hooks up skiers with a Forest Service volunteer for an afternoon on the slopes. Participants will learn about local ecology with themes that vary by the week.

The new Riverfront Express Gondola will transport skiers from Avon to Beaver Creek Landing in three minutes. At Beaver Creek Landing, two high-speed quad lifts transport skiers to the main mountain in 16 minutes. 

The gondola, expected to open during the winter season, is part of the $500 million Riverfront Village development. The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa is scheduled to open in the summer of 2008. 

Also new is the eight-passenger Buckaroo Express Gondola, which serves the children's ski and snowboard school's learning area.

In addition, kids can access the novice area via two magic carpet lifts, with a third surface lift set aside for snowboarders. 

Uplifting in Vail

Vail Cascade Resort & Spa is bucking the trend of building on-mountain residences by focusing on hotel renovations. A $30 million, 18-month transformation is under way and will be unveiled in two phases, with an eye to making the most of the property's location along Gore Creek.

Vail Cascade is the only AAA Four Diamond ski-in/ski-out resort in Vail. The 292-room property features the Aria Spa & Club and the AAA Four Diamond Chap's Grill & Chophouse.

The first phase, to be completed in time for the upcoming 2007-08 season, will include a new, 4,000-square-foot executive conference area for small, private retreats and board meetings.

Features will include five meetings rooms and an executive boardroom offering either creekside or courtyard views.

Guest room improvements will include 42-inch, flat-screen TVs; cordless telephones; and upgraded bathrooms.

The second phase of renovations will begin in the spring of 2008 with enhancements to Chap's Grill & Chophouse and a renovation of the Fireside Bar.

The Vail Cascade's pool and deck will be remodeled with outdoor fire pits, an infinity pool, a new hot tub with a waterfall and seating by the creek.

New RockResorts property

Looking ahead, RockResorts plans to open One Ski Hill Place, a property at the base of Peak 8 at Breckenridge Ski Resort.

Scheduled to open by the 2009-10 winter season, the resort will have 250 to 300 units with such upscale amenities as hardwood floors, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, fireplaces and high-speed, wireless Internet access.

The first building will have 90 ski-in/ski-out units, ranging in size from studios to four bedrooms.

Other expected amenities are restaurants, a fitness center, an aquatics center with two swimming pools, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, a 5,000-square-foot conference center and a heated, underground parking facility.

One Ski Hill Place, which will also get a RockResorts Spa during a later phase of development, will be linked to the town of Breckenridge via the seasonal BreckConnect gondola.

The RockResorts collection of properties includes the Hotel Jerome in Aspen, Colo.; the Pines Lodge in Beaver Creek, Colo.; the Keystone Lodge & Spa in Keystone, Colo.; the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera in the Vail Valley, Colo.; the Lodge at Vail in Vail, Colo.; and the Snake River Lodge & Spa in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

For more on One Ski Hill Place, go to www.oneskihillplace.com. For more on Aspen/Snowmass, visit www.aspensnowmass.com. For Beaver Creek, go to www.beavercreek.com. For Vail Cascade, visit www.destinationhotels.com.

To contact reporter Felicity Long, send e-mail to [email protected].

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