Updated: Mar 5
Not even Covid-19 can stop resorts ski resorts from building for the future. Though uncertainty surrounds the upcoming season, resorts are continuing to invest in terrain expansions, lift modernizations, and developing/upgrading lodges. Here are 7 transformative projects at resorts across North America that you don't want to miss:
Arapahoe Basin, CO. Replacing the legendary Pali Lift with an updated fixed-grip double lift.
Sun Valley Resort, ID. Added 380 acres of skiable terrain through the Bald Mountain Expansion.
Loon Mountain Resort, NH. Building the Kancamagus 8 lift, the "most technologically advanced" lift in North America, carrying 8 people with heated seats and a bubble.
Big Sky Resort, MT. Installing the Swift Current 6 – the fastest 6-person lift in North America, plus a complete facelift of the 200-room Huntley Lodge (part of the Big Sky 2025 master plan).
Sugarloaf Resort, ME. Expanding into 450+ acres of new terrain on West Mountain.
Mayflower Mountain Resort, Park City, UT. The Mayflower Mountain Resort is an entirely new ski area planned for the backside of Deer Valley Resort that may be linked to Utah's bid for the 2030 or 2034 Winter Olympics.
Steamboat Resort, CO. Expanding for the first time in 20+ years with the addition of terrain in Pioneer Ridge and Fish Creek Canyon and building the Wild Blue Gondola, North America's longest 8-person gondola.
Arapahoe Basin, CO – Replacement of Pali Lift
Replacement of the iconic lift with a new, fixed-grip double chair.
Status: In Progress
Target Completion Date: Winter 2020
A-Basin's iconic Pali lift is being replaced this summer. It has been servicing some of A-Basin's most legendary terrain for 42 years.
Those who revere this chair in its original glory need not fear – A-Basin has decided not to upgrade the speed or capacity of the lift, but rather is replacing it with a fixed-grip double. The decision was made to preserve the rugged spirit of the ski area, and the unique experience that is shredding under the Pali Chair. Those who really love the original chair even had a chance to purchase one of 100 chairs that were sold, if lucky enough to win a spot through a lottery system.
Construction of the new lift is underway and on track to open for the season's first snowfall.
Three cheers for this preservation project!
Images courtesy of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and CBS.
Sun Valley Resort, ID – Bald Mountain Expansion
380+ acres of new terrain and a new high-speed, detachable quad.
Opening Date: Winter 2020
One of the only ski resort projects in the country to press on this summer, the Bald Mountain Expansion at Sun Valley has added 380 acres of skiable terrain for the 2020-21 season.
Dubbed as a "resort within a resort," the project will expand access to a huge area of tree skiing to Turkey Bowl from Seattle Ridge. Those who prefer the groomers will find perfect corduroy on Lower Broadway. This trail will be extended an additional 4,200' to the base of a brand new high-speed detachable quad chair which will replace the aging Cold Springs chair. The new chair will rise 1,582 vertical feet, transporting skiers directly to The Roundhouse, Sun Valley's signature mid-mountain lodge where you can't miss the fondue.
When it's complete, Sun Valley will have increased its total skiable area to 2,434 acres from 2,054 acres and created a seamless connection between the Bald Mountain and Roundhouse areas. Clearly, its is a great time to be in Idaho!
Video & Images courtesy of Sun Valley Resort.
Loon Mountain Resort, NH – Kancamagus 8 Lift
Installation of the most technologically advanced lift in North America.
Status: Installation delayed until Spring 2021
Target Completion Date: Winter 2021
The all-new Kancamagus 8 Lift promises to be North America's "most technologically advanced" lift. This first phase of Loon's Flight Path: 2030 Master Plan, the project was originally slated to break ground in April 2020, but Covid-19 delayed it until 2021. The "Kanc 8" will replace the Kancamagus Express Quad, increasing uphill capacity from the Governor Adams Base Area by 25% to 3,500 skiers per hour. It will move at a clip of 1,100 feet/minute, just slight outpacing its cousin, the Ramcharger 8 at Big Sky. The new lift will feature ergonomically shaped, heated seats and a tinted wind bubble to shield riders from the notoriously frigid New Hampshire winds. This Doppelmayr D-Line chair has 31 distinct innovations and 14 patents including an auto-locking restraining bar and an adjustable loading carpet.
Images courtesy of Loon Mountain Resort.
Big Sky Resort, MT – Swift Current 6 & Huntley Lodge Renovation
Building the fastest 6-person lift in North America, plus a facelift for the 200-room, Huntley Lodge at the heart of the village – all part of Big Sky 2025.
Status: Delayed due to Covid-19
Target Completion Date: Winter 2021
Big Sky has been making a splash recently with the construction of new, state-of-the-art chairlifts. Next up is the installation of its fifth major lift since 2015 – the Swift Current 6, a Doppelmayr D-Line chair that will become the fastest 6-person lift in North America. The Swift Current 6 represents the latest step towards Big Sky's goal of creating the most technologically advanced lift network on the continent by 2025.
Another near-term project is the renovation of the 200-room Huntley Lodge. The lodge will benefit from updated bathrooms, bedroom furniture, and top-of-the-line electronics. The project will bring the Huntley Lodge, in the heart of the Mountain Village, up to modern standards and pave the way for a transformative overhaul of the Summit Hotel, Big Sky's premier slopeside lodging option.
Both projects are part of Big Sky 2025, a comprehensive 10-year plan se to transform Big Sky into a massive alps-style resort. You can learn more about it here!
Video and Images courtesy of Big Sky Resort.
Sugarloaf Resort, ME – West Mountain Expansion
A 450+ acre expansion that will introduce new ski terrain, a new lift, and an expanded base area.
Status: In Progress
Target Completion Date: Winter 2022
Sugarloaf Resort recently introduced Sugarloaf 2030 – a 10-year plan that's crown jewel will be the 450+ acre West Mountain Expansion. Kicking off this summer, the project includes a new high-speed lift, 10+ new ski trails, a new tubing park, a lift-serviced mountain bike trail network and new real estate.
The West Mountain trail expansion is designed to bolster Sugarloaf's beginner and intermediate terrain, alleviating significant congestion at the Whiffletree and Super Quad lifts. The size and type of the new lift is yet-to-be-determined, but it will enhance winter and summer operations.
This summer's projects also include the addition of a new spa at the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel, installation of RFID scanning technology at all lifts, and the construction of a new dam on Caribou Pond – the first step in a complete overhaul of the Sugarloaf snowmaking system.
Stay tuned for more details on these transformative projects!
Video & Images courtesy of Sugarloaf Resort.
Park City, UT – Mayflower Mountain Resort
Construction of an all-new ski area on the backside of Deer Valley.
Status: Planned – construction currently on hold due to Covid-19
Target Completion Date: Unconfirmed
It's not every day that an entirely new, sizable resort pops up, but that's exactly what may be underway in Park City. Though facing uncertainty due to Covid-19, the plans for the all-new Mayflower Mountain Resort are impressive. Planned to be set on the backside of Deer Valley Resort and facing the expansive Jordanelle Reservoir, the 5,600 acre resort would feature nearly 1,000 skiable acres serviced by 5-7 lifts, up to 800 hotel rooms, a 68,000 square foot recreation center, and up to 250,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. The plans also call for a significant residential component, eventually with 1,500+ units. The new area will be easily accessible by I-40.
While current plans are for the resort to be an independent property, a 199-year lease agreement signed in conjunction with Deer Valley leaves the door open for a connection between the two resorts with the possibility of an eventual merger.
There is speculation that this massive new development will be a centerpiece of a potential bid to bring the 2030 or 2034 Winter Olympics back to Utah, which hosted an incredibly successful iteration of the games back in 2002.
Although initial construction of new roads to the area and the first hotel building began back in March, work was halted in April due to Covid-19. Extell Development Company, the developer behind the project, has expressed that they are exploring options to get construction back online as soon as possible.
If and when this mega-project is completed, it will be the largest new ski resort in North America since the introduction of Beaver Creek in the 1980's.
Be sure to check back for updates on the progress of this exciting project!
Renderings courtesy of Extell Development Company.
Steamboat Resort, CO – Pioneer Ridge & Fish Creek Canyon Expansion + Wild Blue Gondola
Expansion of terrain by more than 15% & construction of North America's longest 8-person gondola.
Target Completion Date: Unconfirmed
Steamboat's first expansion in 20+ years would introduce 650 acres of new terrain, bringing its total to by 3,620 acres. Once complete, Steamboat would be the second largest ski area in Colorado, behind only Vail.
Incorporating new terrain in the Pioneer Ridge and Fish Creek Canyon areas, already frequented by backcountry skiers, will boost the resort's lift serviced advanced/expert terrain. The resort does not plan to make any major changes to the terrain, but bringing it within resort boundaries will allow for better maintenance and access for skiers and Ski Patrol.
The other major piece of the project is the construction of the Wild Blue Gondola, with potential to the longest 8-person gondola in North America. Rising 11,939 feet (3.16 miles) and going direct from the base area to the summit of Sunshine Peak, the new gondola would increase uphill capacity by more than 4,000 riders/hour to 10,000+. The gondola would have a mid-station at Bashor Bowl, which has also been targeted for a new ski school.
In addition to the new gondola, several other lift projects will streamline travel to the summit. The Priest Creek chair, a fixed-grip double chair installed in 1972, will be removed. The Sundown Express lift, which currently runs parallel to the Priest Creek chair, will be replaced with a "more efficient and higher capacity" lift.
To top things off, a new mountaintop restaurant has been proposed near the top terminal areas of the Wild Blue Gondola and Sundown Express. We can't wait for that view!
Images courtesy of Steamboat Resort.
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