Following years of consolidation by four major ski resort companies
(Intrawest, American Skiing Company, Vail Resorts and Booth Creek)
as well as a number of smaller ones, the acquisition by ski
companies of resort areas has slowed to a near-stop. The industry
has moved into a period of investing in ski areas and seeking to
broaden the appeal of those areas beyond the skiing population,
which has been static for years.
Investment has taken the form of ever-faster and
ever-more-efficient chairlifts, better snowmaking and on-mountain
lodging and amenities like restaurants and day lodges. The market
broadening has taken the shape of children's play areas, spas and
snow-related activities that anybody can do, such as
Also, says Tom Moran, director of marketing for Continental
Airlines Vacations, "The new runs tend to be toned down for
beginners and intermediates. This is part of a broader appeal to
families with skiers of different skill levels."
Bruce Rosard, president of Moguls Ski & Snowboard Tours in
Boulder, agrees. "It's all about amenities," he says. "Clients want
to ski for a few hours, then have a good meal and sit in the hot
tub for a while."
Tour operators continue to expand their choice of destinations
and, according to their spokespeople, to make a complex product
easier to sell. Many agents, they say, are confused in the face of
the variety of mountains; the predominance of nonbranded
condominium accommodations, and seasonal air services.
"As a tour operator," says Sharon Swendner, director of
marketing for Delta Vacations, "we are in the business of making it
easier for agents. We have thoughts of resurrecting the old
tagline, 'One call does it all' because that is what we're about.
With one call, agents can get flights, lodging, 'skierized' car,
lift tickets and other prebooked items that are
More than that, Delta and other operators have specialists who
can help agents deal with the dizzying array of mountains and
accommodations. "Our agents have all that product knowledge at
their fingertips," says Swendner. "They know which resort is
suitable for which client. And they have individually been to many
It's not just the resorts that are changing. So are the skiers.
"Passengers are not skiing on as many days as they used to," says
Jennifer Segaul, Destination Manager, Ski, for Certified Vacations
Group, which operates tours for a number of carriers. "They are
spending a day at the spa or shopping or snowmobiling."
Also, as is true of travel in general, skiers are taking shorter
but more frequent vacations, typically two long weekends rather
than a full week. Still, according to Segaul, the average stay for
a ski vacation is 4.7 nights -- and since that often involves a
family of three or more it can be a substantial booking.
Another trend described by Rosard is Snofaris -- multiresort
holidays. According to Rosard, these packages include stays at two
or three resorts, a car and directions from one resort to another.
"People don't go skiing just to ski; they want to see the areas, to
experience different places. We have some set packages but there is
also flexibility in where people can go and how long they want to
spend at each resort."
Also increasingly common are last-minute bookings, since
travelers with Internet access can keep up to date easily on
weather forecasts and snow conditions. But according to Segaul, ski
mountain managers have been more flexible in the last few years in
providing inventory, making those last-minute trips more
More and more of that lodging inventory is in condo
accommodations and operators are responding. "In the past we dealt
mainly with hotels and resorts but were missing a big market with
condo properties," says Continental's Moran. "We have added many
more of those this year because of the large family market for
While condos are not branded and not always rated, Moran says he
and his division inspect the properties and place them in standard,
moderate, first class and deluxe categories -- and price them
Following is a state-by-state breakdown of changes in the major
The four mountains that comprise Vail Resorts (Vail,
Breckenridge, Keystone and Beaver Creek) are spending $48 million
on enhancements with most of that being spent at Vail Mountain
itself, on an expansion that may be available next winter and
certainly will be available the following season (2000-2001). The
mountain will add four chairlifts and 885 acres for skiing.
Coming to Vail this season (1999-2000) are new children's rental
equipment; a new half-pipe that will have the capability to cut the
only 15-foot-high "super pipe" in Colorado, and five new Snowcats
to replace older ones.
In addition to capital improvements, the Two Elk restaurant,
which burned down last fall, is being rebuilt and expanded. Its
target opening is this Christmas.
At Breckenridge, a new six-passenger chairlift will replace the
Quicksilver Lift, which was the first high-speed quad in the U.S.
when it opened in the 1980s. This mountain is also adding an
outdoor barbecue deck to Ten Mile Station, an on-mountain
restaurant that made its debut last winter.
Keystone Resort has broken ground on a 49,000-square-foot
expansion of its conference center; completion is scheduled for
June 2000. The addition includes a 20,000-square-foot ballroom.
With the addition, the center will have 56,500 square feet, and
together with the space in its hotels, the resort area will total
100,000 square feet in conference space, laying claim to the
largest conference venue in the Rockies.
Aspen Skiing Company
These areas of Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk and Aspen
will offer a season-long adult lift ticket priced from $39 through
a new preseason ticket-purchase program. When pre-purchasing
tickets, guests must provide an arrival date and name; tickets can
be used up to 15 days after arrival date and there are no blackout
On Aspen Mountain, there is a variety of restaurant news,
including a new cafeteria-sundeck on the top of the mountain, a
table service restaurant called Benedict's and a semi-private club
called the Aspen Mountain Club.
At Aspen Highlands, there will be a new base village. Also,
three chairs were removed to be replaced with a high-speed
Snowmass will offer new restaurants (at Sam's Knob) and a new
children's race arena, a small hill permanently set up for
children's snow event races. There are races in different events
for different age groups. There is a time clock and an area from
which parents can watch.
For the first time, this mountain will have ski-in/ski-out
lodging with the opening of 230 condo units that will open in
phases during January and February of 2000. To be called Zephyr
Mountain Lodge, the property sits at the entrance to Moffat Tunnel,
which connects Denver and Winter Park.
The American Skiing Company, which operates Steamboat, will open
a new Grand Summit hotel here sometime during this season; its 230
units will open in phases.
A new conference center opened last month in the town of
Mountain Village, just steps from the mountain. This
23,000-square-foot facility is designed for corporate meetings and
special events; it accommodates up to 550 people in the main
The resort will host the International Snowboard Federation's
World Championship from Jan. 8 to 15. More than 300 top
snowboarders will compete in a variety of events for total prize
money of $270,000.
Three new lifts, two of which are high-speed detachable quads,
will open here next season. With the addition, 50% of Telluride's
lifts are now high-speed detachables.
A new restaurant, Club St. Sophia, will open at the top of the
gondola, adding upscale mountain dining to Telluride's amenities
for the summer 2000.
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts will manage a new hotel-condominium
here, the Lodge at Mountain Village -- A Wyndham Resort. It is a
ski-in/ski-out resort that will consist of 86 one-, two- and
three-bedroom condos; and 10 individual log and stone cottages. The
resort is opening in two stages: 28 condos, two cabins and the main
lodge have opened; the remainder of the units will be open in
This winter two new facilities will be open to skiers for the
first time: the Copper Station day station and Copper Springs Lodge
condominium-hotel. These projects are part of a program called
Renaissance of Copper Mountain that is costing a total of $450
million over several years.
Phase One, which includes the two projects, is concentrated in
Copper's East Village. It also includes Colorado's first
six-person, high-speed chairlift, as well as new snowmaking
Copper Station, built of stone and wood, is the focal point of
the East Village. The first floor features equipment rentals, lift
ticket windows, information desks, lockers and a casual restaurant.
The second level includes a Grand Hall Market serving breakfast,
lunch and afternoon snack items. The third floor has a quiet area,
complete with couches and great views for relaxing. Copper Springs
Lodge will have one-, two- and three-bedroom units.
Vail Resorts has purchased Grand Teton Lodge Co. for about $50
million. The company operates several well-known properties,
including Jenny Lake Lodge, Jackson Lake Lodge and Colter Bay
Village, all located in Jackson Hole, within the Grand Teton
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
This resort, which changed its name from Jackson Hole Ski
Resort, will open a new Apres Vous quad lift that will increase
capacity from 810 to 2,000 people per hour and will reduce the time
to reach the top of the mountain from 10 minutes to five. Jackson
Hole was one area that has just had an excellent ski season with
well over 500 inches of snow.
The resort has made its first foray into lodging with the
purchase of three management companies to form Jackson Hole Resort
Lodging. JHRL now manages the majority of condos in and around
Teton Village. The company opened the 37-unit Teton Club and
38-unit Moose Creek properties in the summer of 1999.
Although it opened just two years ago, the Canyons, in Park
City, has become a major ski area and continues to grow
For the coming season, the Canyons, one of the areas operated by
American Skiing Co., will open Peak 5, providing skiers and riders
a total of seven mountains to explore. The expansion, accessed by a
new, four-passenger chairlift, will add about 300 acres of skiable
terrain to the resort. The Canyons now claims to be one of the
largest resorts in the country, with about 3,300 acres for
intermediate and expert skiers.
Also, a new Sun Lodge opened in May 1999. This mid-mountain day
lodge is located next to the Snow Canyon Express lift and offers a
restaurant, restrooms and a sun deck providing scenic views of the
Phase One of the Canyons Resort Village will be completed this
winter. The cornerstones of the slopeside village are the Grand
Summit Resort Hotel and Conference Center and the Sundial Lodge.
The 360-room hotel boasts the largest conference facility in the
Park City area. It features a health club, 75-foot indoor/outdoor
heated pool and spa, a restaurant and easy access to the
The Sundial Lodge will be a condominium hotel in the center of
the resort village. It will have a lobby with central check-in,
equipment lockers, a business center and two outdoor spas with
This resort will open a new 54,000-square-foot base lodge in
December. The building will house a cafeteria, a rental center,
concierge services, shops and a private club.
Park City is the official venue of the men's and women's giant
slalom competition and all snowboarding events of the 2002 Olympic
Deer Valley Resort will invest more than $5 million on
improvements for next season. That includes a triple chairlift on
Flagstaff Mountain. It will be based in a new family ski area that
includes two new runs and a snack area.
A new Silver Lake Express high-speed detachable quad will
replace the existing Clipper triple chairlift. This addition will
assist in transporting guests from the base area of Snow Park.
A new day lodge will open for the 2000-2001 season at the bottom
of the Empire Express and Ruby chairlifts. It will serve lunch.
Deer Valley continues making improvements to its 2002 Olympic
venues, including slalom and mogul runs.
Stein Eriksen Lodge, located mid-mountain at Deer Valley Resort
in Park City, will complete a $25 million expansion in time for the
2000-2001 season, featuring 11 new three-, four- and five-bedroom
condominiums -- 44 rooms altogether -- and a 20,000-square-foot
conference center; plans also include a spa and expanded ski locker
Salt Lake's Cottonwood Resorts
Four Utah resorts recently entered into a cooperative marketing
effort that includes joint advertising, attendance at consumer and
trade shows and an interchangeable lift voucher. They have adopted
the name Salt Lake's Cottonwood Resorts, and consist of Brighton
Ski Resort, Solitude Mountain Resort, Alta Ski Area and Snowbird
Ski & Summer Resort. They receive an annual average of 500
inches of snow and their slogan is "Higher, Steeper, Closer, &
By partnering, Cottonwood Resorts' spokespeople say they will
gain more exposure while making it easier than ever to ski Salt
Lake. Less than 30 miles southeast of downtown Salt Lake City,
these four resorts are a quick drive up Big or Little Cottonwood
Canyon. The Utah Transit Authority provides public ski bus service
from downtown and south valley accommodations to each resort on a
regular basis throughout the season.
Sugarloaf in Maine is building a "turbo tubing" park. The resort
had offered a temporary turbo tubing park two days a week in the
past, but the new facility will be open every day. It involves
building huge tunnels in the snow that enable tubers to go much
faster. A slower version will also be available.
Sugarloaf is also expanding Bullwinkle's, an on-mountain
restaurant, doubling the seating and upgrading the food. According
to a spokesperson, the restaurant is very casual during the day,
and more formal in the evening.
This Vermont area will have new lodging this season at Long
Trail House. It will provide 142 studio- to three-bedroom units in
two buildings with amenities to include a concierge, outdoor pool
and hot tub.
The resort has spent $17 million in the last four years on
snowmaking equipment and now claims the capacity to pump out more
snow than any other mountain in the east.
On-mountain dining now features La Pista, an Italian-style
This Vermont resort has a new highlands lift and lodge in a new
section of the mountain called the Morse Bowl. The double chairlift
serves five new trails for beginners and advanced beginners. The
new area is geared to children and adults seeking quiet terrain to
The resort has converted its indoor tennis court into the Fun
Zone! with an array of slides, boxes, walks and crawl-around
amusements -- an inflatable playground.
A new, 18-unit condo building called the Sycamores at West Hill
features a fitness center, children's play area and common areas,
all a short walk from the Village Center. It will be ready for
This resort, which claims to be California's most popular
mountain resort, will open a new building to house the base of the
lower Panorama Gondola. The gondola itself will have new cabins
that provide, according to the resort, a quiet, cushioned ride from
the base to the 11,000-foot peak with 360-degree views from start
Beginning skiers and snowboarders will enjoy the Discovery
chair, a high-speed detachable quad that will replace two older
chairs. The addition of this high-speed quad servicing the beginner
terrain of the Main Lodge will help skiers by allowing more time on
the slopes and less on the lift.
Mountaintop dining is coming to Mammoth in the form of Top of
the World, an intimate, 45-seat facility on Mammoth's summit. The
new restaurant will offer views of the Eastern Sierra
A new lodge recently opened at Mammoth. Juniper Springs Lodge
offers ski-in/ski-out convenience for guests at its 174 studio,
one-, two- and three-bedroom condos; it also offers a Hearth Room
lounge with a huge rock fireplace.
This Intrawest-owned resort in British Columbia will have two
new high-speed lifts on Whistler Mountain next season. That will
mean faster village uploading and better access to storm-proof
mid-mountain terrain. Also new will be four gladed runs on Whistler
With the addition, Whistler/Blackcomb will have 15 high-speed
lifts which, claims the resort, are the most high-speed lifts at a
single resort in North America. With a total of 33 lifts,
Whistler/Blackcomb's new lift capacity increases to 59,000 skiers
and riders per hour.
This Quebec resort, another Intrawest subsidiary, will increase
its skiable area by more than 20% for next season with a new face
costing $10 million. With the additional area, Tremblant will be
able to increase the number of its runs by 10, to a total of 90.
Three-quarters of the runs will be for experienced skiers and the
remainder for intermediate skiers.
Four viewpoints will be set up at strategic points along the
runs in order to give skiers a chance to appreciate the landscape
of the new face. Also, a small day chalet will be built halfway up
Mont Tremblant opened the 139-suite Le Lodge de la Montagne, a
resort hotel at the base of the slope, last fall.For More Information
American Skiing Company: www.peaks.com
Aspen Skiing Company: (800) 525-6200; www.skiaspen.com
Booth Creek: www.boothcreek.com
Certified Vacations: (800) 223-7260
Continental Airlines Vacations:(800) 634-5555; www.coolvacations.com
Cottonwood Resorts: www.cotttonwoodresorts.com
Delta Vacations: (800) 221-6666; www.deltavacations.com
Moguls Ski & Snowboard Tours: (800) 666-4857; www.skimoguls.com
National Ski Areas Association: www.nsaa.org
Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau: (800) 541-4955; www.visitsaltlake.com
Ski Utah: (800) 754-8824; www.skiutah.com
Stein Eriksen Lodge: (800) 453-1302; www.steinlodge.com
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts: (800) WYNDHAM; www.wyndham.com
Skiing Olympic Sites
Following is a quick look at the sites and which events will be
held at the 2002 Winter Olympics.Soldier Hollow is in Wasatch State Park near Heber City, about
43 miles from the Olympic Village in Salt Lake City.Park City is in the Wasatch Mountains, about 25 minutes east of
Salt Lake City.Deer Valley Resort is a mountain resort in Park City,
Utah.Snowbasin Ski Area and the Ice Sheet at Ogden are in Ogden,
about 55 minutes north of the Olympic Village.Provo is about 55 minutes from the Olympic Village"E" Center is a new sports arena in West Valley City, 10 miles
from the Olympic Village.Oquirrh Park is about 25 minutes west of the Olympic Village in
Here's the rundown:
Alpine skiing Park City Mountain Resort (giant slalom)
Alpine skiing Deer Valley Resort (slalom)
Alpine skiing Snowbasin Ski Area (downhill, Super G)
Biathlon Soldier Hollow
Bobsled Utah Winter Sports Park, Park City
Cross-Country Skiing Soldier Hollow
Curling Ice-Sheet at Ogden
Figure Skating Skating Arena at Salt Lake City
Freestyle Skiing Deer Valley Resort (moguls, aerials)
Ice Hockey "E" Center
Ice Hockey Provo
Luge Utah Winter Sports Park
Nordic Combined Utah Winter Sports Park/Soldier Hollow
Short Track Speed Skating Skating Arena at Salt Lake City
Ski Jumping Utah Winter Sports Park
Snowboarding Park City Mountain Resort
Speed Skating Oquirrh Park Oval