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Month: October 2016

Vail owns 13 Ski Resorts! Epic!

vail-heather-simbaVail Resorts is quite the mountain monopoly now. How many ski resorts can one company own? ! Apparently a baker’s dozen of  dreamy downhill destinations! The latest, Vail has purchased Canada’s biggest – Whistler Blackcomb for $1 billion.  Vail now manages 13 ski resorts, the original Vail (since 1962), plus Beaver Creek – one of my personal faves, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado; Park City (and Canyons) in Utah, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in Lake Tahoe California, Whistler Blackcomb in BC Canada; Perisher in Australia; Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin; Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan. Vail now has the lion’s share of skier visit too, with 50% of the 10 busiest ski areas on the continent, among the top 3  are Whistler, Vail, and Breckenridge.

1telluride-skier-hrbSo Vail’s Epic Pass just became even more Epic for 2016-17. Enjoy skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Wilmot, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, and Arapahoe Basin, Perisher Australia, Wilmot, Afton Alps and Mt. Brighton, plus 5 days at Whistler. Next ski season, winter 2017-18, Whistler Blackcomb pass benefits will be in full force.

Add to that the impressive ski resort collection the luxury lodging brand Vail Resorts owns – RockResorts, with posh ski lodging properties including the authentic first lodging in Vail village-  Lodge at Vail, The Arrabelle at Vail Square, The Pines Lodge and The Osprey at Beaver Creek, One Ski Hill Place at jester-sugarbush-heatherBreckenridge, and the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

I think Vail Resorts needs an East Coast ski resort or two to round out the portfolio. Perhaps Vail could buy Saddleback in Maine, its only $12 mill versus the Park City acquisition at $182 mill, and Whistler at $1.1 bill.  ? Wouldn’t a RockResort in the Rangeley Lakes region be grand all four seasons? And Vail could reopen Ascutney in Vermont perhaps?

Meanwhile, I’ve got my Epic Pass and I’m not afraid to use it! Lake Tahoe, Park City, Colorado’s Summit County and Whistler – I’m coming for ya!

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips & Luxury Ski Trips,

Photos by Greg Burke

New ski lift for Sunday River

sunday-river-chondolaAs you may have seen on facebook,  or if you hiked American Express this summer, Sunday River’s Spruce Peak triple had a mishap. The top terminal of Spruce Peak Triple “took a tumble” July 10, 2016. Can you say Risky Business? Spruce chairlift’s bullwheel detached from the ground, Sunday River management immediately reported it to the State of Maine Tramway Safety Board. Being summer, the lift was not operating.

obsession-2ski (3)Well, the squeaky wheel, a 1986 Borvig triple, gets more than grease this time – Spruce Peak will get a new Doppelmayr fixed-grip triple chairlift with a conveyor loading system, carrying skiers and snowboarders two minutes faster, but not until 2017-18 winter.

risky-business1Since the Doppelmayr ski lift guys are still designing the lift (break out  Boyne’s American Express), it won’t be ready for ski season 2016-17. You can access Spruce Peak’s trails from Aurora’s Quad to Borealis and a short hike or herringbone (do you know how to do that on skis?) up Sirius to get to the cord on American Express, Risky Business, and Downdraft. In fact those classic ski trails will likely stay corduroy longer since most folks flake at the word “hike.” Earn your turns at Spruce Peak this season.

Also getting a lift at the River is the Locke Mountain Triple, just a new top terminal – call it insurance since its similar vintage and design to the Spruce lift that toppled. In the event Locke’s facelift is also not ready for opening day at Sunday River, typically around Halloween, Sunday River says “we’ll make snow on Aurora Peak to be accessed by the Chondola.”

spruce-risky2Don’t wax too sentimental about the old Spruce Peak Triple, the new one will be just as scenic, just 120 seconds swifter to your sweet skiing. But do wax your skis, #winteriscoming.

Other new ski lifts around the country include:

big-sky-moonlightBig Sky Resort in Montana replaces the Challenger Double with a new Doppelmayr triple chair.
Big Sky’s Lone Peak triple will upgrade to a new Doppelmayr Bowl6 – six passenger bubble covered high-speed lift. #Sweet
Grand Targhee Wyoming replaces the 1974 Blackfoot double chairlift  with a new fixed-grip quad.
Vail’s Back Bowls Sun Up  fixed-grip triple will become a new high-speed quad.
1sunrise-express-baseMt Bachelor Oregon adds the Cloudchaser – a high speed quad on the eastern most terrain, opening up 635 acres at Sunrise and the catchline from the summit.
Purgatory at Durango in Colorado gets a surface lift along the valley floor between lower Bull Run and the bottom of the Legends (Lift 8) high-speed quad.
8jackson-hole-view-frcasperArizona Snowbowl, sister to Purgatory, gets its first six-pack chairlift.

Next season, Jackson Hole adds a Sweetwater Gondola between the Bridger Gondola and Teewinot high-speed quad.

By Heather Burke, photos by Greg Burke

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips & Luxury Ski Trips

 

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