Western resorts ready for start of a new season

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NEW YORK -- The Utah Ski Association said the state posted a record number of skier days last year, 3.4 million for the season.  Utahs Summit County ski areas -- Deer Valley Resort, Park City Mountain Resort and the Canyons Resort -- reported a combined record for the second year in a row, with visits totaling 1.4 million, a 5% increase over the previous year.

Meanwhile, Ski Lake Tahoe resorts -- including Alpine Meadows, Heavenly, Kirkwood, Northstar-at-Tahoe, Sierra-at-Tahoe and Squaw Valley USA -- drew more than 3.2 million skier visits last year.  In addition, more than $1 billion has been invested in upgrades at Lake Tahoe-area ski resorts.

Following is a sampling of news and developments in both areas for the 2004-05 season:

Lake Tahoe

" The big news in Heavenly this season is the new Heavenly Village, a pedestrian area at the base of the Heavenly Gondola featuring 40 shops; 14 restaurants; nonski activities such as laser tag, ice skating and an eight-screen movie theater; and nine art galleries. The village is part of a $200 million investment, with an additional $10 million slated for on-mountain upgrades this season. Improvements include a new high-speed, six-passenger lift, additional snowmaking capabilities and a remodeling of the exterior of East Peak Lodge.

Northstar-at-Tahoe will offer enhanced snowboard instruction through a Burton Learn-to-Ride program." Northstar-at-Tahoe is set to invest almost $1.5 million on a new Village Plaza, which will house Northstars skier services. A new Village Pavilion will comprise a ticket center; sports bar; and food and beverage outlets, including apres ski venues. Also new will be an Echo Express quad chairlift, a Doppelmayer high-speed quad running parallel to the gondola and serving the mid-mountain. The new lift will open in December.

Families can take advantage of Northstar-at-Tahoes new terrain park, the Straights, featuring freestyle terrain, complete with rolling jumps suitable for children and novices. New rails in the expert terrain parks also will be available this season along with snowboard instruction through a Burton Learn-to-Ride program. For more info or to book, go to www.skinorthstar.com.

" Squaw Valley USA is opening Phase II of its expanded pedestrian base village, to offer -- in combination with the already completed Phase I -- 286 new slopeside condominiums. Also new are seven dining venues and 17 shops in the European-style village. The expansion comes on the heels of a $60 million investment in on-mountain improvements, which, this coming season, will include a new beginner double chairlift and a second Magic Carpet serving the Squaw Kids Childrens Center. Visit www.squaw.com.

Utah

" A new, deeply discounted, multi-area lift voucher called the Ski Salt Lake Super Pass is good for day passes at Alta Ski Area, Brighton Resort, Solitude Mountain Resort and Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort. The pass also includes round-trip transportation from downtown and suburban Salt Lake City to the resorts. Priced at $42, the pass costs less than any of the Salt Lake resorts individual lift passes and is available through tour operator packages as well as through individual resorts. Visit www.ski-saltlake.com.

" Alta Ski Area added a 6,300-foot-long, detachable quad, bottom-to-top lift designed to take skiers from the base to the top in less than nine minutes. Alta also opened its first terrain park last spring, with small and medium jumps, a luge, a box and four rails. The Alta Lodge unveiled two inclusive programs for skiers this season: Early Turns and Powder Tracks, including daylong clinics with instructors from Altas Alf Engen Ski School.

The Early Turns program, available Dec. 9 to 12, was designed for intermediate and advanced skiers and includes four nights lodging, meals, tax and gratuity at the Alta Lodge; three days of ski instruction; a three-day lift ticket; and the use of demo skis and boots from the Deep Powder House Ski Shop. Early Turns is priced at $1,545 per person, double; $2,020, single.

Powder Tracks, offered Jan. 8 to 12 and April 2 to 6, features five nights lodging, meals, tax and gratuity at the Alta Lodge; four days of ski instruction; four days lift tickets -- three at Alta and one at Snowbird -- and use of ski equipment. In January, Powder Tracks costs $2,251 per person, double; $2,928, single. In April, the program is priced at $2,040, double; $2,633, single. Visit www.altalodge.com.

" Brian Head Resort added three large terrain parks for a variety of skill levels with more than 25 jumps and rails. Also new is Get Better lessons for guests who have skied or snowboarded at least once, priced at $10 when paying for a full-day lift ticket.

The resort also unveiled a Stay Three Ski Free package, priced at $139 per person, double. The three-night package includes slopeside lodging at Cedar Breaks Lodge & Spa at Brian Head and a two-day lift ticket at Brian Head Resort. The property features an indoor swimming pool, hot tubs, two restaurants, a full-service day spa, a game room, underground parking and a 24-hour front desk. The offer is available weekdays all season, excluding holidays; rates do not include taxes. Call (888) 282-3327 for more information.

A lodging package at the Best Western Town & Country Inn also includes an all-day lift ticket to Brian Head Resort as well as lodging and breakfast. The package costs $55 per night, per person, double, and hotel amenities include an indoor pool and hot tub and refrigerators and microwaves in each room. Available all season during the week, the rate rises to $65 per night, double, on weekends. Call (800) 493-2608 or visit www.bwtowncountry.com

" The Canyons Resort in Park City is offering a free day of skiing or riding with the purchase of two or more days. It also unveiled a First Tracks at the Canyons package, which pairs first access to the lifts and slopes and breakfast at the Red Pine Lodge for $30 plus a lift ticket. Call (435) 615-8042.

" Upgrades and expansions in the Park City area include an $8 million project at Deer Valley Resort. The improvements include two new chairlifts serving the Flagstaff area of the resort; two new intermediate ski runs, also in Flagstaff, and additional glade skiing. Visit www.deervalley.com for more information.

Park City Mountain Resort replaced its beginner lift with a high-speed, four-passenger, detachable lift serving the novice terrain. For details, go to www.parkcitymountain.com.

Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort offers a new, 340-foot-long, 50-foot-wide Superpipe to serve its newly expanded terrain parks. Visit www.snowbird.com.

Solitude Mountain Resort, which has put the finishing touches on its new village core, has upgraded its snowmaking capabilities for the coming season. Construction on the next phase, a 12,000-square-foot base lodge and high-speed quad in the Moonbeam area, is set for summer 2005. Visit www.skisolitude.com for more on Solitude Mountain.

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

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