Among the variety of improvements at Vermont’s ski resorts, a certain theme rings clear. Each ski area listens to its guests and is creating the best possible experience for their extended family of snow sports enthusiasts.
Here’s the latest:
Bromley Mountain Resort
Bromley went on a shopping spree and brought home about $675,000 worth of goods, systems and equipment to enhance the experience of skiers and riders:
A Prinoth Bison winch-cat will groom the steepest terrain with relative ease, providing a better, more consistent product for the most advanced skiers and riders. An AEBI mountain mower will run throughout the off-season and mow terrain that was inaccessible. Improved snowmaking coverage and better trail and slope maintenance will ensue. This, coupled with the fact that Bromley’s trail system was engineered to be skiable on four inches of snow, will make for a better on-slope experience mountain-wide. 300 new sets of Adult Rental Equipment from HEAD that will dramatically heighten the downhill experience while eliminating time-consuming binding length adjustments. Skis will be categorized by “sole size” making the whole rental process positively speedy. New industry-specific ticketing software from Siriusware, streamlining ticketing and ski school purchases as well as e-commerce. A newly constructed drop off area, enhancing guests’ arrival and improving traffic flow into and out of the entry plaza.
NEK Sampler: This season, Burke Mountain is excited to introduce two new value cards. The Kingdom Sampler and the Ski Free Card are designed to introduce guests to the Northeast Kingdom (NEK) of Vermont and save money on lift tickets.
Priced at $69, the Kingdom Sampler Card includes one full day lift ticket at Burke Mountain, one Burke Mountain campsite rental, one Vermont beer sampler flight or Vermont root beer float at the Tamarack Grill, one summer Kingdom Trails day pass, one Nordic Kingdom Trails day pass, 10% off dining at the Tamarack Grill and 10% off lodging at the Carriage House Motel & Burke Mountain Campground, located on the Kingdom Trails. The Ski Free Card offers discounted lift tickets all season and every 5th visit is free. The Ski Free Card also includes 10% off dining at the Tamarack Grill and one complimentary pre-season tune up.
Nordic Operations: Burke Mountain cross-country terrain is managed by Kingdom Trails and this season they will be making significant improvements to the skating trail network. For more information, please visit www.kingdomtrails.com and www.skiburke.com.
Jay Peak Resort welcomes visitors this winter with $13 million in improvements. Topping the list are increases in snowmaking coverage, an enclosed beginner lift, a new Nordic center, an indoor ice arena, a parking garage, a state-of-the-art ticketing system, and a new groomer. The enhancements are part of the resort’s ongoing $120 million revitalization effort. Phase 1 of the expansion at Jay Peak is complete with the Tram Haus Lodge that opened in December of 2009, a brand new Ice Haus arena that opened in May 2010, and the Nordic Center/Golf Clubhouse that opened its doors in June of 2010.
New in lodging: 57 luxury suites in the Tram Haus lodge, three deluxe condominium suites at the Golf Clubhouse.
New in dining: Alice’s Table at the Tram Haus Lodge features a Vermont-inspired menu, the Clubhouse Grille restaurant and bar offers American-style food, and the Tower Bar at the Tram Haus Lodge has lighter fare and appetizers. The Ice Haus Arena has its own heated snack bar and café, and the Aroma Café offers beverages and snacks.
New in recreational activities:The Ice Haus arena features an NHL-sized rink with room for 700 spectators, and offers skating lessons, hockey games and curling tournaments. The Golf Clubhouse is available for golfers in the summer and serves as a Nordic Ski Center during the winter. The Taiga Spa & Fitness Center at the Tram Haus Lodge is available for massage therapy and spa treatments, as well as fitness and yoga classes.
Jay Peak has also broken ground for the next phase of expansion – the “new” Hotel Jay, which will feature 170 rooms, offer three additional restaurant options, and an indoor water park, expected to open in early 2012. The water park will feature a state-of-the-art retractable roof for year-round access. It will have one of the longest indoor rivers in North America, a kamikaze straight drop (the first indoor of its kind in North America) and a double Flow Rider surf machine. There will also be an area available for smaller children.
Snowmaking upgrades top the list of summer projects, including trunk line replacements, energy efficiency upgrades, pump re-builds and a new cooling system at the South Ridge Pump House.
In addition to building up its arsenal of Lower Energy snow guns, including two new fan guns that will be positioned near the bottom of the Superstar and Snowshed trails, Killington will continue to partner with Efficiency Vermont to improve the overall efficiency of its snowmaking system. One such project that was started two years ago and continued over the 2010 summer was the application of a coating to the inside of the pumps that reduces friction and energy needed to pump water throughout the 88-mile system.
A new cooling system that drops the temperature of compressed air from 120+ degrees down to ambient outside temperatures at the South Ridge Pump House will improve efficiency by using much less energy than the old cooling system.
Mountain Improvements Continue with Trail Re-grading: Crews continue to work on numerous improvements throughout the resort as they prepare for the upcoming winter season. In fact, Killington currently has six excavators and a backhoe on the hill working on trail re-grading and snowmaking projects.
Crews have completed trail re-grading on the upper Skyewalker/Bittersweet area to improve skier/rider flow and reduce congestion at the intersection. Next up will be re-grading the top portion of Bittersweet where it intersects Great Eastern. Blasting work has removed rocky areas on the Great Eastern Trail near the top of the Needle’s Eye Express. The remnants of last fall’s Killington Hay Festival are also being recycled for the re-vegetation projects in these areas.
The old control room for the Superstar Express was removed and in its place will be a new control room and a new electric drive control for the lift. Killington also replaced seat cushions on a number of chairlifts and continued to refinish and re-paint several lifts as well, including the towers on the Sunrise Triple, Bear Mountain Quad chairs, Snowdon Triple towers and the upper terminal of the Needle’s Eye Express.
Mad River Glen
Over fifteen years of co-op ownership, Mad River Glen has invested more than $4 million in capital improvements. Mad River’s goal is to maintain and preserve the experience rather than overhaul or upgrade it. Both the skier-owners and the management understand that skiers come to Mad River for the unique combination of legendary terrain, sense of community, low skier density and intimate atmosphere. “We don’t want to mess with a winning combination,” President Jamey Wimble explains. The ability of Mad River Glen to consistently reinvest in the mountain’s infrastructure is a testament to the success of the Cooperative. New shareholders will know that their support will enable the Co-op to fulfill its mission of protecting and preserving Mad River Glen’s unique ski experience for future generations.
The Magic Partnership, LLC: In an effort to save Magic Mountain and raise capital to invest in the infrastructure the ski area has begun selling shares in the area.
More Efficient Snowmaking: Magic Mountain continues to improve the snowmaking operations with increased efficiency through renovated air and water snowmaking lines and a streamlined process to making snow.
Magic Card: The Magic Card offers discounts for skiers and riders all season long for only $39.00. The Magic card gives holders $25.00 midweek lift tickets and $10 off weekends and holidays all season long.
Magic 3-Pack: In its second season, the Magic -Pack, offers a tremendous savings on day tickets throughout the season. For only $125.00 Magic skiers and riders can purchase 3 lift tickets valid anytime. For more details go to www.magicmtn.com.
Middlebury College Snow Bowl
The Snow Bowl has made two improvements yielding increased terrain: the popular Cameron Trail has been widened significantly for ’10-’11 and a glade has been added between the Lang and Cameron trails.
Mount Snow Resort
Mount Snow continues its pursuit of the perfect snow conditions. With off-season improvements to its snowmaking infrastructure, the clear priority is making sure its guests have the best snow conditions, period. With the most Fan Guns in North America, Mount Snow is able to cover its trails with the highest quality snow from day one, opening with top to bottom coverage and a full terrain park.
You can’t say Mount Snow and not think about events. From freestyle competitions for all ages to some of the best parties north of New Orleans, there is a calendar full of events not to be missed. In spring time, things really heat up with the Carinthia Open, Reggaefest, Winter Brewer’s Festival and the Glade-iator. That’s not to count out college weeks in January where eager students get one last chance to blow off some steam before returning to the books for the spring semester. Each week features a four night long party schedule with everything from tubing to live bands.
Okemo Mountain Resort
It will be a smooth ride for Okemo Mountain Resort visitors this winter – whether they ski and snowboard, or not.
Mountain Coaster: The Okemo Mountain Coaster, a four-season, family attraction will offer an exhilarating ride through alpine forests at Okemo’s Jackson Gore. Sled-like cars carrying one or two passengers will ascend 1,600 feet followed by a 375 vertical-foot descent along 3,100 feet of tubular, stainless steel track that follows the contours of the mountain with added waves, camel backs, banking loops and a “twister” section, at speeds of up to 25 mph.
New Grooming Machine: Okemo continues its commitment to superlative grooming this winter with the addition of a third Prinoth BR500 grooming machine. The 500-horsepower dual turbocharged behemoths are wider and longer than Prinoth’s next-largest model. With engineered efficiencies, the newest addition to Okemo’s grooming fleet helps reinforce the resort’s reputation for top-quality surface conditions.
New Lift: In the heyday of surface lifts, Okemo was renowned for its network of Pomalifts – even boasting the longest Pomalift in North America. Okemo’s final vestige of that era will be dismantled and mothballed. The Snow Star Poma, located in the Galaxy Bowl Learning Area at Okemo’s Clock Tower Base Area, is replaced with a180-foot, magic-carpet-style surface lift. Visit Okemo’s online press kit.
Smugglers’ Notch Resort
Winter guests at Smugglers’ Notch Resort will be among the first to enjoy the resort’s exciting new canopy tour, located in a scenic valley near the resort village. Participants on the 2.5-3-hour tour, the first of its kind in Vermont, will ride more than 4,000 feet of zip line cable, cross suspension bridges, and rappel from trees.
Scenic lookout and tree platforms in a mature forest consisting of stands of hemlock, white birch and sugar maple will yield stunning views of the resort, Mount Mansfield and the Green Mountains. The year-round canopy tour joins Smugglers’ extensive seasonal outdoor experiences that in the winter include skiing and snowboarding on three mountains, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing, and in the summer, geocaching; a Via Ferrata hiking, climbing and ropes course adventure; a high ropes challenge course; and a day camp for children featuring kayaking, bouldering, Via Ferrata, and use of the resort’s 30-foot climbing wall and giant swing. The four-season canopy tour will be available to overnight guests, day visitors and groups. Visit the Press Room for more info.
Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center: Vermont’s intimate center for the performing arts. A dramatic cultural enhancement has come to Stowe Mountain Resort. Spruce Peak Arts Center opens its doors to the public in December 2010. Developed to operate year-round as a major component of Stowe Mountain Resort, the performing arts center is envisioned as a venue for a wide spectrum of events; theater, music, dance, film, comedy, lectures and multimedia presentations. “The Arts Center will be the creative and cultural soul of Spruce Peak,” said Walter Frame, President of the Arts Center Foundation. “An eclectic range of events and exhibitions featuring established and emerging artists will inspire, educate and entertain residents, guests and the greater Stowe community.”
The Spruce Peak Arts Center Foundation, Inc. is a 501c3 public organization funded by individual contributors. The 420-seat multipurpose hall, with minimal separation between audience and stage, provides flexibility that includes the extension of seating onto the stage, the use of galleries for performers, plus reception and banquet facilities. For more information please visit www.sprucepeakarts.org
Stratton Mountain Resort
Powers at Stratton: 2002 Olympic gold medalist Ross Powers returns to his roots at Stratton Mountain School as the new head of Snowboarding Programs. In this case, the one time student becomes the teacher. Powers was an SMS student in the 1990′s before winning his first Olympic medal in 1998 and then winning Olympic gold on his birthday in Salt Lake City. Powers narrowly missed a spot on the Olympic team in 2010 for snowboardcross
Healthy Priorities: Stratton won an NSAA Award in 2010 thanks to its ‘Safety Week Program,’ a product of Stratton’s Health and Safety Committee, which has set out to improve the quality of life at the resort. Recent initiatives include the introduction of a health awareness week, an in-resort health assessment, healthy dining options in the cafeteria and an Open Houses at the Stratton Sports Center
Operations & Grooming Growth: Stratton will upgrade two of its front line Snow Cats with new Prinoth BR350′s, with significant technology and efficiency upgrades in snowmaking by adding new snow guns. Operational improvements will be focused around Guest Service, Terrain Parks, Snowsports School and the Tubing Park with a new ‘warming hut’ added to the ticket purchasing area where guests will be able to hang out and watch while sitting around a bonfire.
Village Expansion: Sugarbush is currently undergoing its largest revitalization effort since opening the first phase of the Lincoln Peak Village in December 2006. The Warren-based resort is investing close to $10 million in the second phase of the village, as well as upgrades to its snowmaking infrastructure.
Phase 2 of the Lincoln Peak revitalization project consists of a new entrance plaza as well as two new lodges. The 12,500-square foot “Schoolhouse” will house some of Sugarbush’s popular children’s programs. The resort’s winter Micro, Mini and Sugar Bear programs as well as some summer camps will be located in this facility. The other lodge will provide skier services such as tickets and season passes, guest lockers, adult Ski & Ride, rentals and repairs, public restrooms, and a café. The as-yet-named facility will be approximately 14,500-square feet.
Phase 2 began in mid-April and is expected to be completed in November.
Pipes & Snow: Sugarbush began replacing key sections of its snowmaking infrastructure in early July. Over two miles of primary-supply snowmaking pipe will be replaced at both Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen. The original pipe was installed in 1997. Work is expected to be complete in late September.
Trapp Family Lodge
NCAA Ski Championships: March 9 – 12, 2011; The University of Vermont and Trapp Family Lodge will be hosting the collegiate skiers from all over the United States. The new race course has just been certified for homologation by the International Ski Federation (FIS). This should prove to be an exceptional spectator-friendly event, as the course finds its way into the stadium five times in the 7.5 kilometer distance
Beer drinkers will revel in this “something new;” the Trapp Lager is the inaugural beer of the Trapp Family Lodge Brewery. More than a decade ago Johannes von Trapp started thinking about brewing beer for guests of the resort. His dream was to produce an American version of the tasty lager he enjoyed over the years on trips to his ancestral Austrian home. Johannes’s dream became reality in the Spring of 2010, with the opening of the Trapp Family Brewery. The modest facility (60,000 or so gallons a year) is located in the lower level of the bakery, where bottles and draughts of the heavenly concoction will be available year round.
With nationally ranked instructors, Vermont Adaptive at the forefront of its movement and more ski academies than the rest of New England combined, Vermont teaches all abilities of skiers and riders from pre-K to the Olympics. In recognition of this strength, Vermont will celebrate Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month with an unprecedented variety of promotions throughout January. Visit skivermont.com for the full listing.
Vermont’s Brand: A branding research study focusing on how Vermont is perceived as a vacation destination by visitors and non-visitors was completed by Vermont’s Chief Marketing Officer Christine Werneke, in conjunction with the Department of Tourism and Marketing and the Vermont Ski Areas Association.
“This is the first time the state has conducted a quantitative brand study looking at Vermont’s brand from the perspective of not just visitors but non-visitors as well,” Werneke said. “The goal is to better understand Vermont’s unique strengths and where we see significant opportunity for market growth.”
The Vermont brand is well established and its message has been consistent from the beginning. In 1891, Vermont became the first state to promote itself. The Publicity Bureau, established in the Secretary of State’s office, used state funds to promote Vermont as an escape from the city.
The study also notes the differences between the New York metro, Massachusetts, Canadian metro, and in-state markets in terms of what types of vacation experiences they seek. “The New York metro market wants luxury getaways, while the Massachusetts market is seeking more affordable, outdoor-oriented vacations,” Werneke said.