Going into the 2014-15 winter ski season, Rocky Mountain resorts’ prospects for a sturdy season appear to be solid, even though the outlook for resorts in the Western U.S. states seems a small shakier.
Resort owners in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and Idaho continue to make annual infrastructure and programming improvements in the area, which benefited from sturdy snowfall last season and saw skier and snowboarder visits rise six.6%, according to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA).
Vail Resorts, which created the most significant offseason news last month by acquiring Utah’s Park City Mountain Resort for $ 182.five million, produced upgrades to its Lodge at Vail hotel as it prepares to host the Alpine Planet Ski Championships at its eponymous resort next February.
Nearby, Beaver Creek is replacing Centennial Express chairlift with a high-speed “mixture” lift in which six-passenger chairlifts alternate with ten-person gondola cabins. It has also upgraded its snowmaking capabilities.
Elsewhere in Colorado, Aspen Snowmass invested $ 10 million in Buttermilk Mountain’s base location, including the addition of the Hideout, a 7,500-square-foot children’s play center. Aspen Snowmass, which hosts ESPN’s Winter X Games in January, also upgraded its 126-room Limelight Hotel as properly as its six-suite Small Nell Hotel and added 4 lanes of lift-serviced snow-tubing region.
At Steamboat, the resort’s evening-skiing system has added two nights a week, generating it offered Thursday by way of Monday evenings. The resort, which looks to advantage from new United Airlines service from San Francisco and Washington, D.C., also expanded its ski shop by 35%.
Breckenridge’s Colorado SuperChair six-passenger express lift will replace a quad chairlift, whilst Keystone has added a “Kids Ski Free of charge” program for ages 12 and under.
Meanwhile, in Utah, Park City is now portion of Vail’s Epic Pass system, which includes 22 resorts. Canyons, which will likely be connected to nearby Park City for the 2015-16 season as component of the Vail Resorts acquisition, will nearly double the size of its Cloud Dine restaurant for this season, whilst Deer Valley upgraded its snowmaking equipment.
Brian Head Resort replaces Chair No. 2 with a detachable quad. And Cherry Peak Resort this season will debut close to Logan, Utah, with 3 triple chairlifts.
New Mexico’s Taos Ski Valley is opening the 12,450-foot Kachina Peak for lift-access skiing and snowboarding, boosting the resort’s lift-serviced terrain by 50%. The resort also produced snowmaking equipment upgrades developed to aid get the mountain open by Thanksgiving weekend.
Meanwhile, Wyoming’s Jackson Hole and Idaho’s Sun Valley each get improved air access, with Jackson Hole receiving United service from Washington Dulles and Sun Valley adding United service from Denver.
Advance bookings at Rocky Mountain region resorts indicate that occupancy from November through February will be up 8.7% from final season, according to DestiMetrics, which tracks reservations at 19 mountain resort locations across the Rockies and Western states. Booked revenue is up 13%, illustrating a jump in nightly rates.
“It really is not about the existing snow it really is the legacy that comes from the preceding year’s snow,” stated Ralf Garrison, principal and senior analyst at DestiMetrics. “Most of the U.S., specifically the Rocky Mountains, has set a quite powerful foundation for early bookings.”
Conversely, resorts in the West are grappling with the aftereffects of drought-like situations for a lot of the 2013-14 season, which caused winter visitation numbers to fall about 25% final season.
In California, Mammoth Mountain looks for a boost in enterprise from new United service from Denver each and every Saturday in the course of the winter as properly as a new Alaska Airlines route from Las Vegas beginning Jan. 15 and operating through April 6 on Mondays and Thursdays.
As for Lake Tahoe, Heavenly boasts two new ziplines, whilst Kirkwood has broadened its Expedition: Kirkwood program for back-nation skiing.
Sierra-at-Tahoe added a $ 5 million Solstice Plaza retail-restaurant base area, while Alpine Meadows renamed its upper terrain location the Pacific Crest Bowls in a nod to the Pacific Crest Trail.
Elsewhere, Vermont operations such as Stowe Mountain Resort, Mount Snow, Smugglers’ Notch, Stratton Mountain Resort, Sugarbush Resort, Killington Resort and Bromley Mountain all upgraded their snowmaking equipment for this season. Stowe renovated its summit gondola at Mount Mansfield, although Okemo Mountain Resort’s high-speed, six-particular person “bubble” chairlift, Sunburst Six, replaces the Northstar Express Quad.
In Canada, Whistler Blackcomb upgraded its eight-passenger gondola cabins and added a radio-frequency identification method for much more tech-friendly lift access. The resort is also adding a Kid’s Night Out child care system in the course of holiday weeks.
And Banff-Lake Louise-Sunshine, which encompasses 3 ski places in the Banff-Lake Louise region, was added to the Mountain Collective ski-pass system that includes Aspen, Mammoth Mountain, Squaw Valley and Whistler Blackcomb.
Adhere to Danny King on Twitter @dktravelweekly.