Vail Resorts is one of the biggest mountain resort companies in the world, certainly in North America. What I love best about Vail Resorts is that there is such variety across the spectrum of their destinations – from the penultimate luxury of Beaver Creek, Vail Mountain and Northstar, to the laid back casual, family-friendly Western atmosphere of Keystone and Breckenridge. Each resort has its own personality, character, tradition and back-story. What is consistent, though, is an obsessive focus on the guest experience and in consistently improving on that.
This year is no different, as Vail Resorts’ chief marketing officer Kristin Lynch noted during a recent visit to New York. Among the highlights for me is the $50 million being spent in Park City which now fully incorporates Canyons (making it the largest ski resort in North America); new direct flight from New York’s JFK into Reno/Lake Tahoe, making Heavenly and Northstar, two extraordinary resorts, practically in our own backyard, with a schedule that allows two full days of skiing
Vail Resorts Commits $110 Million in Resort Improvements
Vail Resorts is investing $110 million in improvements this winter to elevate the guest experience, bringing its five-year resort investment total to more than $500 million. In addition to creating the largest ski resort in the US (Park City, with the merging of Canyons) improvements will include upgrading Vail Mountain’s Avanti Express Lift (#2) to a six-passenger high-speed chairlift, expanding the “refreshing” snowmaking system at Beaver Creek, adding new snowmaking on the recently opened Peak 6 terrain at Breckenridge, renovating rooms at the Keystone Lodge and investing in technology and marketing systems for enhanced data capture across our resorts, in our ski school and through rental ancillary services.
This includes an unprecedented $50 million invested in capital improvements to Park City Mountain Resort, combining Park City with neighboring Canyons Resort to create the largest ski and snowboard resort in the United States. Park City Mountain Resort will have a total of 7,300 acres of majestic terrain, a new eight-passenger, high-speed two-way gondola, upgrade of the four-passenger King Con Lift to a high-speed six-passenger chair, upgrade of the Motherlode chair from a three-passenger chair to a four-passenger chair, new trails and snowmaking and improved dining venues across the mountain, including a completely new Snow Hut Restaurant with capacity for 500 indoor seats. The plan is one of the most ambitious in U.S. ski industry history and will transform the guest experience at Park City Mountain Resort. As part of the $50 million capital improvements plan linking Park City and Canyons, just about a half-hour away from Salt Lake City, Utah, resort leadership officially combined the two brands into one, under the name Park City, with a new logo evoking the former resorts’ logos and the tagline: “There is only one. Park City.”
The Double Tree by Hilton, Park City Joins Vail Resorts’ Hospitality Portfolio: Vail Resorts recently entered into a management agreement with The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Park City – The Yarrow, a completely remodeled hotel and conference center located just minutes from Main Street and Park City Mountain Resort. The major upgrades included a full contemporary makeover of all 182 guest rooms and interior public areas. It also now boasts a larger fitness center with all new equipment, a larger bar with a sleek new design, a new coffee shop and a new game room. Additionally, The Yarrow offers 12,000 square-feet of remodeled meeting and ballroom space, one of the largest in Park City.
Perisher is Epic! In June 2015, Vail Resorts acquired its first international mountain resort, Perisher Ski Resort (“Perisher”) in New South Wales, Australia. Perisher is the largest and most visited ski resort in Australia, and is well-positioned with access to the country’s largest cities. Located in the picturesque Kosciuszko National Park in southeastern New South Wales, Perisher’s 3,000 acres of skiable terrain make it the Southern Hemisphere’s largest mountain resort. As part of the acquisition, Epic Pass holders will enjoy the freedom of skiing and riding in Australia for the first time, ever. Current Perisher Freedom Pass holders of the 2015 pass will also receive free access to nine world-class resorts in the U.S. for the 2015-2016 season, giving them the freedom to enjoy skiing year-round.
Ski the World with the Epic Pass: The Epic Pass provides access to 13 resorts in three countries and a savings of up to 35 percent as compared to single-day lift ticket pricing. The Epic Pass provides skiers and riders with unlimited, unrestricted access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Park City in Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in Lake Tahoe, Afton Alps in Minnesota, Mt. Brighton in Michigan and now Perisher in Australia. Vail Resorts is also pleased to announce a continued partnership with Verbier in Switzerland, offering pass holders up to five free consecutive days when staying at in-resort accommodations. The Epic pass is on sale now, for US$809 for adults and US $419 for children, at EpicPass.com and via Vail Resorts preferred travel partners internationally.
Announcing EpicMix Time: EpicMix Time, which will be live across our four Colorado resorts for the 2015-2016 ski season, will give guests access to real-time, up-to-the-minute, lift line wait times across 55 of our core lifts and gondolas. With the primary goal of providing a transparency to our guests, and giving them more time for what’s important – time to ski and ride. After piloting the program in Colorado, Vail Resorts plans to expand EpicMix Time to its other destinations in upcoming seasons, as well as expanding the program to give updates on on-mountain restaurant and rental shop wait times as well. Vail Resorts is currently testing this ground-breaking technology at Perisher Resort in Australia, which is currently in the middle of its ski season. EpicMix Time is part of the award-winning EpicMix application that has brought you Epic Mix Photo, EpicMix Guide and Epic Mix Challenge in previous seasons. Navigate our resorts, customize your experience, amplify your day and share it with friends.
New Direct Flights to Lake Tahoe on JetBlue
Big news this year is a new direct flight to Reno/Lake Tahoe on JetBlue from New York’s JFK. This is a game-changer for Vail Resorts’ Northstar as well as Heavenly on the north and south shores of Lake Tahoe.
The flight leaves New York at 7:30 and gets into Reno/Tahoe (RNO) at 11 pm, a half-hour away. The five-hour flight back leaves at midnight, which means you have a full day to ski, arriving at 7:38 am at JFK. That means you can leave Friday, have all of Saturday and Sunday to ski, take the red eye back Sunday night, hop on the subway on a Monday morning into the office in Manhattan. fares are very reasonable, as well: – as low as $113/one-way. At RNO, you can rent a car or take the Heavenly & South Lake Tahoe Express for $30.
Heavenly: New Alpine Coaster
Heavenly, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this season, is just across Lake Tahoe is Heavenly, one of the most unusual mountain destination resorts you will find – it straddles the Nevada-California line, so on one side of the street you have 24-hour casino gaming and wild nightlife, and on the other, you have this laid-back California outdoorsy, wholesome, recycling vibe. The skiing is magnificent – with extraordinary variety because of the different terrain of Nevada versus California, and some trials affording the most magnificent views of Lake Tahoe (and I would venture, some of the most magnificent views of any ski mountain).
Heavenly’s new alpine coaster is a major aspect of its new Epic Discovery program. The alpine coaster allows guests, on individual sleds, to descend on a raised track through the forest and natural rock formations, utilizing gravity for the descent while still giving riders full control of their speed. Located north and west of the existing tubing hill.
“Go All In” After Hours at Heavenly: Party and stay like a rock star at Tahoe’s newest property, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe. The world-famous Hard Rock, which opened in January 2015, features a 2,323-square-meter casino with 539 rooms, multiple restaurants and bars and live entertainment both indoors and out. If relaxing on your private lakeside balcony is more aligned with how you go “all in,” head to The Landing Resort & Spa, Lake Tahoe’s only 5-star boutique lakeside resort. Or check-out the stunning new shopping area, The Chateau, opened in fall 2014, which features boutique shops, restaurants and bars directly across the street from Heavenly Village.
High above the sapphire-blue waters of Lake Tahoe, Heavenly Mountain Resort is one of the most unique mountain resorts on the planet. Combining 4,800 acres of off-the-grid terrain and incredible views of Lake Tahoe with high-octane, non-stop nightlife, Heavenly offers a high-energy resort experience like no other. Visitors to Heavenly come prepared to go “all-in” because Heavenly is for those who are up for first chair and are still going strong after last call. Visit www.skiheavenly.com or call 800-HEAVENLY.
Northstar Hosts Daily ‘Tost’
Located on the opposite shore of Lake Tahoe, Northstar’s vibe is completely different from heavenly. Casual. Calm. Homey. Pampered luxury.
Throughout the winter season, Northstar hosts tost, a celebratory culinary tradition that redefines the art of the daily toast. Celebrating the mountains, Lake Tahoe and the tradition of toasting to friends and family, Northstar invites guests to raise their flutes and sip bubbles each day on East Ridge run at 2 p.m. Luxurious, whimsical and an ode to fun in the mountains, tost is reflective of the authentic atmosphere of “California laid-back luxury” found at Northstar. New for 2015-2016, every aspect of the daily tradition will be enhanced from the employee uniforms to the décor. Select dates will also feature live music.
Another program introduced last season that is back because of popular demand is the Mountain Table Dinner. It is a special event atop the mountain at the Zephyr Lodge, outfitted to fit the elegance of the evening, with fresh flowers and crystal service. An epicurean’s delight, the evenings five-course dinner is orchestrated in conjunction with a California winery, which pairs each course with a special wine.
With more than $30 million in capital investments over the past five years, Northstar California Resort is a premier self-contained Lake Tahoe mountain resort destination offering quintessential laid-back California luxury and style. Northstar is a particular favorite among parents and children, especially with such features as an ice rink surrounded by lounge areas in the middle of a village with accommodations exuding unparalleled mountain elegance throughout The Village at Northstar. There is also slopeside-located Constellation Residences at Northstar, a Rock Resort and The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe.
Kirkwood, which is also in the Lake Tahoe area, offers lift access to backcountry skiing within the resort boundaries. This year, there are new opportunities to explore Kirkwood on a more intimate level, with specialty clinics, private guides and backcountry awareness offerings. Beyond Kirkwood’s boundaries, you’ll find infamous terrain that has been featured in many ski and snowboard flicks. Expedition:Kirkwood’s offerings include Avalanche Certification Courses, Women’s Programs, E:K Cat Tours, private guides and specialty ski clinics & board clinics and progressions sessions. Junior Expedition Team (JETS) nurtures shredders in-the-making.
Beaver Creek: White Glove Collection
It is hard to imagine how Beaver Creek, the penultimate in luxury, can become even more luxurious and exclusive. But this season, Beaver Creek is adding to its “White Glove Collection” with a White Glove Winter Package and the White Carpet Club:
White Glove Winter Package: Travel in style with first-class airfare to Vail/Beaver Creek’s Eagle Airport (EGE), private helicopter transportation to the base of Beaver Creek Mountain and private car to the exclusive Trappers Cabin on the White Glove Winter Package (pricetag: $50,000). Nestled among the aspen groves at 9,500 feet, Trappers Cabin is a luxurious, modern mountain property complete with your own gourmet-chef and private Ski School Ambassador (and early access to the mountain to see the sunrise), In addition, it includes Epic Passes, Helly Hansen gear and other lux perks. (BeaverCreeek.com/WhiteGlove).
White Carpet Club: For the duration of a vacation, guests can enjoy an exclusive, members’ club located steps from the escalator leading to Centennial Express Lift. The club features spacious lockers; boot dryers; an offering of premium coffees, teas, cocoa, and decadent morsels; private restroom facilities and a cozy, intimate lounge. The dedicated on-site concierge provides instant assistance with lift ticket and pass purchases, as well as dinner and activity guidance and reservations and priority access to SaddleRidge Restaurant – a renowned ski-in fine dining restaurant, plus preferred parking ($150/day, 3-day minimum).
Elevated Ski School Private Lessons: Beaver Creek Ski School offers an elevated private lesson experience that includes express lift access via an exclusive lane at designated lifts (bypassing the traditional ski school lane), ski valet service and access to an exclusive on-mountain, fine dining lunch at SaddleRidge. The elevated lesson blends Beaver Creek’s legendary guest service with its Ivy League Ski School experience. Guests can enjoy lessons solo, or experience a “private lesson” with the comfort of a small group, such as family.
New Six-Passenger Avanti Express Lift: Vail Mountain continues its wave of investments with the replacement of the Avanti Express Lift (#2) with a six-passenger lift. The Avanti Express Lift (#2) is a primary lift on the front side of Vail Mountain, serving intermediate and advanced terrain and dispersing skiers and snowboarders from Lionshead to mid-mountain. Upgrading the lift will reduce wait times and improve reliability.
Keystone: Kids Ski Free & Kidtopia Expanded
Keystone Resort, one of the closest major ski resorts from Denver International Airport, also offers the best value among Vail Resorts’ properties, is one of the few in Colorado offering night skiing (and you can arrive the afternoon before and have free skiing that night), is the only Vail Resort offering Kids Ski Free, is the most family friendly with its renowned Kidtopia programming and the world’s largest snowfort, plus activities like tubing (open at night during night skiing), and Keystone (with 3000 skiable acres) lift ticket is accepted at nearby Arapahoe Basin (with 900 acres of terrain), and 800 beds walking distance to the lift.
Kids Ski Free. Period. Every day, all season long, kids 12 years and under ski free at Keystone. No blackout dates. Available all weekends and holidays, a rarity in the ski industry. To qualify, children must stay two or more nights in one of Keystone’s numerous accommodation options, which span from luxury hotel rooms to cozy ski-in/ski-out condominiums. Now entering its fourth season, Keystone’s Kids Ski Free is expected to pass the 100,000 Kids Ski Free lift tickets this season (KeystoneResort.com/KidsSkiFree).
Keystone’s Kidtopia Family Programming: Kids of all ages can enjoy a variety of daily programming throughout the winter and summer. Compete in the Giant Snowball Launch, hunt for the elusive sasquatch during the Bigfoot Adventure Walk, get dirty while learning about the local ecosystem with Super Slimy Science or create a masterpiece and keepsake at Cupcakes and Canvases. Most Kidtopia events are free of charge for participants.
Camp Keystone is one of the most distinctive children’s ski school offerings in the country. The Camp Keystone experience begins as soon as children walk in the door, with fun, interactive displays and a new 24-foot slide that propels kids from inside to the adventure that awaits on the snow. Skills are developed by game-aided learning. At the end of each day, parents can participate in a Ski With Me family lesson. Hitting the snow alongside their child’s instructor, parents learn best practices and overall basics aiding them in continuing the progression of their child’s skiing or riding ability, as well as letting the kids show off their new skills. With three designated teaching areas, children and beginners of all ages benefit from specially designed terrain with progression and skill development in mind.
Reservations may be made at Keystoneresort.com or by calling 800-328-1323.
Breckenridge: Capital Hill
Breckenridge has seen major upgrades over the past five years. In 2013, the addition of Peak 6 increased the resort’s skiable acres by 540 acres (a 23 percent addition), of which 400 acres are lift served and feature both high-alpine and intermediate bowl skiing. Last season the Colorado Super Chair servicing Peak 8 became a six-passenger express, providing a faster route from Peaks 6 and 7 to Peak 9 –ideal for guests to enjoy the remodeled Overlook Restaurant at 11,274 feet on Peak 9. This season Breckenridge added snowmaking on Peak 6, ensuring a holiday opening date for the lower part of the peak, regardless of Mother Nature.
For more information, visit www.snow.com.
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