New owner sparks season of change at ski resort

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LAS VEGAS -- Ski, snowboard and Las Vegas? You bet. As incredible as it sounds, skiers and snowboarders alike will find plenty of challenging trails a scant 40 miles north of the gambling mecca.

That's where the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort, which has been nestled in the Spring Mountains for 40 years, can be found.

Changes are afoot at the former family-owned resort, which was acquired by Park City, Utah-based Powdr Corp. on Nov. 15, just 10 days before it opened for the season.

The company also owns the Boreal Mountain Resort, Soda Springs Ski Area and Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, all located at Lake Tahoe, as well as the Park City Mountain Resort in Utah and Oregon's Mount Bachelor ski resort.

The Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort has been nestled in the Spring Mountains for 40 years. But exactly what changes will be made -- and when -- is not known. "There really are no set plans that I can go public with at this time," said Brian Strait, general manager, adding that the new owner needs time to assess the resort.

There is, however, "a huge wish list" of ideas, he said.

"Some of them are pipe dreams [while] some are immediate, meaning within the next two to three years," Strait said.

According to Strait, most of the resort's structures were built in the mid-1960s and cannot accommodate the number of people who currently visit the ski area.

For example, he said, "the number of rest room facilities -- that's one [project] that's on the radar screen for next summer.

"We're also looking forward to the summer because we're in the process of coming up with a design for expanding our snowmaking pond so it will hold more water and we can make more snow faster," Strait added.

One project that already has been completed is the remodeling of the rental shop.

"Our primary focus [right after opening] was to reduce lines at peak times," Strait said.

So immediately after Thanksgiving, he said, the rental shop was rearranged "to gain more square footage for people to get their rental boots fitted."

An effort also was made to reduce lines in the resort's food-service areas.

The resort features three lifts and 10 runs -- "about 1,000 vertical feet of skiing and snowboarding," Strait said.

For snowboarders, who were first allowed to practice their sport at the resort in 1984, "we have a fairly extensive terrain park with one half-pipe," he said.

For skiers, there is a full ski school with lessons for children as young as 4 years old.

"For anyone who wants to learn to ski or snowboard, we offer everything," Strait said, noting that the resort offers discounts for groups of 20 or more.

"We even rent clothing -- there's a demand for it," he added. "We've had people come up here in blue jeans and tennis shoes who say that they want to ski or snowboard. We outfit them with clothing, rental gear, lessons and lift tickets. We are the fullest of the full service."

The ski season here typically can last until Easter if the snow holds, Strait said.

"I'd definitely consider [extending the season], depending on snow conditions and, of course, the primary driver is the demand from the customer base," he added.

After that, "We don't have any definitive plans in place for the summer," Strait said.

"At the minimum, we will have a limited food and beverage offering. We would like to develop mountain-biking trails, have an alpine slide, chair rides -- there's a whole laundry list that just keeps going on.

"Summer is going to be such a vital part of our business," he said. "It's so much cooler up here than in the city. Last summer it was 116 degrees on the Strip and 85 degrees in our parking lot."

For more information about the resort, call (702) 385-2754 or (702) 645-2754 or visit www.skilasvegas.com.

To contact reporter Amy Baratta, send e-mail to [email protected] .

Going from the Strip to the snow

LAS VEGAS -- Getting to the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort is fairly simple, according to general manager Brian Strait.

"First, you take a drive north out of Las Vegas [on I-15 and then on Highway 95 North] through some pretty desolate country. The elevation is about 2,500 feet. Then you make a left-hand turn [onto Highway 156] and the road just goes up -- from 2,500 feet to 8,500 feet in about 17 miles.

"You start off with a few cacti and then you get into the Joshua trees. You start getting into a little bit of snow, then junipers and then the ponderosa pines, which are 200 feet tall. Finally, you're in the mountains at [an altitude of] 12,000 feet.

"It's some of the most spectacular scenery you can imagine, and you just left the Las Vegas Strip less than 60 minutes ago." -- A.B.

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