From major investments in hotels, on mountain dining and learning centers for young skiers and snowboarders, to new chairlifts, groomers, and snowmaking systems; Colorado Ski Country USA destination mountain resorts continue to enhance the premier skiing and snowboarding. Here are highlights for the 2014/15 season:
Coming off its inaugural season of night skiing and snowboarding, Steamboat is adding two additional nights for skiers and riders to enjoy the slopes under the lights. Night Operations will now be available five nights a week, Thursday through Monday evenings, from 5:30-8:30 pm and from 6-9 pm during spring. Five trails – 1100 vertical feet – plus the terrain park are open for night skiing, offering terrain for all abilities. The resort even offers lessons at night. What is more, the lighting system is state of the art, refracting light off the snow for better visibility.
“Anybody who flies into Colorado can bring their boarding pass and ski free the night of arrival” says Loryn Kasten, Public Relations Coordinator.
Terrain: Joining Steamboat’s grooming machine fleet this season is a new Bison Sherpa winch is the first of its kind in Colorado, and is the new generation of winches from Prinoth with 5.3 tons of pulling force and an automatic pulling force control system. The cutting-edge Bison Sherpa augments the Beast which started grooming the slope’s mid-winter last season and will be used to tackle some of Steamboat’s steepest terrain and portions of its terrain parks. The resort’s fleet, operated in two shifts, re-surfaces approximately 600 acres nightly to a premium corduroy finish and encompasses 21 machines, including nearly half of the fleet utilizing Bison or Beast groomers.
In addition, Steamboat’s state-of-the-art snowmaking system is being upgraded this winter with more than two miles of pipe, more than 11,000 feet, across See Me, Upper See Ya, Sitz, top of Vogue to Jess’ Cut-Off and Sitz to Boulevard. In addition, two new 12 ft. by 16 ft. blockhouses at Jess’ Cut-Off and the Christie Peak Mid-Station will provide new valve stations for intersecting pipe lines in those critical areas. The new lines will significantly accelerate the resort’s ability to produce snow as tower guns can be spaced 75 feet apart to more efficiently cover the trails. Over the past six seasons, the resort has installed nearly 18 miles/46.5km of water and air pipe for snowmaking. These improvements are all designed to further efforts to use less electrical energy and water in production while being more efficient when producing the early season snow base.
Guest Experience: Steamboat is launching OpenTable, a real-time online reservation service this winter. With OpenTable, resort restaurants will be able to manage reservations more efficiently, streamline operations and enhance service levels. For guests, it means finding the restaurants that best fit their dining occasions, available tables, real-time reservations, restaurant reviews, menus and other helpful information to enjoy the best overall mountain culinary experience. For more information about Steamboat’s upgraded food and beverage options, visit http://www.steamboat.com.
The improvements continue across Mt. Werner Circle at the Steamboat Grand.
Getting to Steamboat: Steamboat makes it easy to get to with airline service arrangements for direct flights from 11 cities, including Newark, NJ. Otherwise, you can connect from Denver International into Hayden Airport (20 minutes away) or Eagle Airport (1 1/2 hours away). Denver International is a 3 hour drive from Steamboat.
“We are one of the few resorts that works with airlines,” Kasten says. Air fares can be as low as $250.
The 2014/2015 winter flight schedule provides convenient connections from more than 300 airports nationwide and worldwide. Airfares and packages are currently available for purchase through Steamboat at 800-922-2722 or www.steamboat.com/winter-flights.
And with airlines charging for baggage, it can be a better idea to bring your boots but rent ski or snowboard equipment and take advantage of the latest equipment. Ski Butlers bring your equipment right to your door, even at 3 am.
Steamboat is an interesting place – the historic town, a authentic “cowboy town,” is separate from the ski resort.
Once you get to Steamboat, you don’t need a car – there are free shuttle buses that get you there.
Ski Deals: One of Intrawest’s six North American ski resorts, Steamboat is part of Intrawest’s Passport that provides for six days of skiing at each of the resorts, and free skiing for children 12 and under. The pass can be used at Stratton, Vt., Steamboat and Winter Park in Colorado, Blue Mountain Ski Area, Ontario and Mont Tremblant Ski Resort, Quebec, and Snowshoe Mountain Resort, WV. (www.IntrawestPassport.com)
For more information, visit www.steamboat.com.
Winter Park Resort
Winter Park Resort is seeing its largest on-mountain building construction in over 25 years: Lunch Rock Restaurant will be a state-of-the-art facility utilized year-round, with 150-seat heated deck, 250-seat indoor restaurant, bar, and hydration station all focusing on Colorado themes. At 16,000 square-feet, the new restaurant will be over five times larger than the previous structure at Lunch Rock, which was built in 1985. While adding another exciting experience for visitors to the Mary Jane, Lunch Rock Restaurant will also service guests skiing and riding Winter Park, Parsenn Bowl, Eagle Wind, and the Cirque, making the restaurant a convenient hub for the many people who pass through the area each day.
In addition to convenience and comfort, at 11,200 feet in elevation Lunch Rock Restaurant boasts amazing views of Parry Peak, James Peak, Parsenn Bowl, the Fraser Valley, and the Continental Divide, which Winter Park Resort lovers have enjoyed from Lunch Rock for generations. Most importantly, the new facility will stay true to the tradition of Mary Jane, one of Colorado’s most iconic destinations. For more information, visit http://lunchrock.co/.
Winter Park is actually owned by the city of Denver, and is one of the most easily reached major ski resorts from Denver (there is even a ski train, and efforts to increase frequency). Winter Park has been operated by Intrawest, a big-league resort company that also owns and operates Steamboat. Intrawest has brought all the accoutrements of a top-notch resort operation to Winter Park’s spectacular peaks.
Ski Deals: Winter Park is one of the six resorts included in Intrawest’s Passport, giving six days of skiing at each of the resorts, and free skiing for children 12 and under.
Winter Park’s unusual pedigree makes for a distinctive character: world-class facilities and amenities on and off the mountain, coupled with ease of access from Denver International Airport and value for dollar.
See www.winterparkresort.com for more info.
Last year, Crested Butte thinned 10 acres of trees, dramatically improving access to forested skiing and this year, offers new areas for glading. Intermediate skiers looking for more gentle gladed terrain should get ready to weave through the trees in the East River area and off the Teocalli Lift.
The tubing hill is always a hit with the kids at Crested Butte- even after a long day of skiing. This winter, the resort is installing a Magic Carpet® lift just for the tubing hill, bringing back the excitement of tubing to the base area’s Adventure Park. The installation of the new lift will provide kids and the “kid at heart” easy, safe access to the hill.
Snow bikes are now available at Crested Butte from a rental fleet. For those new to the sport at CBMR, a two hour instruction and guided tour around the mountain is required to ensure safe use of the equipment and knowledge of where snow biking approved routes are located. This is an easy to learn, smile-producing sport and more information on snow biking at Crested Butte can be found at www.skicb.com/snowbike.
Getting to Crested Butte: Gunnison/Crested Butte Regional Airport services direct flights from Denver, Dallas and Houston, and Chicago/O’Hare. Through American and United Airlines’ extensive flight networks, guests can get to Crested Butte from anywhere in the world.
United Airlines provides two nonstop round trip flights daily between Gunnison/Crested Butte Regional Airport and Denver, while American Airlines offers one nonstop round trip flight daily between Gunnison/Crested Butte Regional Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport with an additional second service in the peak holiday period. In addition, United Airlines has daily service from Houston International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport. (For details, visit http://bit.ly/2014-15-CBMR-ski-flights.)
Ski Deals: Crested Butte is the sister-resort to Okemo Mountain in Vermont, and pass holders get some mutual benefit.
Crested Butte’s Peak Pass and Peak Pass Plus holders also can take advantage of 3 days at both Okemo and Mount Sunapee each winter. http://skicb.com/tickets-passes/season-tickets/peakplusbenefits
Meanwhile, Okemo’s Ultra Pass includes full access to Crested Butte, with no restrictions, and most other Okemo passes provide five days of skiing/riding at Crested Butte when lodging is booked through Crested Butte vacations. There is also a benefit of 25 percent off lodging at Crested Butte properties. (see
“It is definitely more of a trend for East Coast skiers to come west for a trip than western skiers to go back east, but with that being said our passes get used both ways,” says Erica Mueller, Crested Butte’s Director of Innovations and Relations.
Info at Crested Butte Vacations, 844-993-9545 or www.skicb.com.
Children’s Programs: For 2014/15, Aspen/Snowmass is The Hideout, a new multi-million dollar children’s center at the base of Buttermilk, one of five mountains and the most family-friendly that are part of Aspen/Snowmass. The Hideout will give children and families a world-class facility with improved access for drop off, direct access to the mountain and an adventurous and interactive design. The 7,500-square-foot-facility will offer a fresh new approach to kids programming by seamlessly mixing indoor play with ski instruction. The Hideout is included in Phase 1 of the Buttermilk base area improvements along with parking lot and drop-off/pick-up improvements. Phase 2 will see a new Skier Services building for ticketing, rental retail and additional amenities. For more information, visit http://www.aspensnowmass.com.
New: Beginning Dec. 19, 2014, Snowmass will feature four lanes of lift-served snow tubing perfect for an afternoon of sliding down snow with the family. Built for ages 4-14, the new tubing facilities at Elk Camp will provide non-stop laughter and fun.
“Aspen Mountain is the heart of a city, the soul of a ski town,” says Meaghan Lynch, Public Relations Coordinator. Despite its reputation for being a jet setters destination, ‘You can be sitting next to someone at the bar who duck tapes his ski boots together, or someone bathed in diamonds.”
Aspen, renowned for the Aspen Institute which brings together the brightest minds in the world and summertime music festivals, is distinguished by cultural attractions. The city just opened a $70 million art museum, offers theater, and is renounced for dining.
Getting to Aspen/Snowmass: Travelers headed to Aspen/Snowmass have 150 direct and connecting flights fly weekly into Aspen/Pitkin County Airport. six miles from Snowmass Village and three miles from Aspen.
United Airlines provides daily direct flights to Aspen/Pitkin County Airport from Houston, along with four daily direct flights from Los Angeles and 13 daily flights from Denver on peak days. In addition to the airport’s four daily direct flights from Chicago/O’Hare and two daily direct flights from San Francisco, this brings United’s total frequency up to 24 daily flights in and out of Aspen/Snowmass this winter.
American Airlines utilizes CRJ-700 aircraft operated by American Eagle to provide 63 seats with nonstop service from Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles each with daily nonstop service to Aspen. In addition, from December 18 – March 29 Delta will provide service into Aspen/Pitkin County Airport from Atlanta and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Find deals at www.StayAspenSnowmass.com and www.FlyAspenSnowmass.com.”
For more information, visit www.aspensnowmass.com
Copper Mountain reengineered the resort smartphone app game with the introduction of Sherpa last winter, providing on-mountain audio intelligence, that enhances the mountain experience. New for the 2014/2015 winter season, Copper hands over the controls of Sherpa to everyone, allowing for an open-sourced mountain. Not only will guests be able to create and share their own mountain tips and favorite trails, but Copper will reward the best contributors with swag, tickets, passes and even a prized treasured spot on 2015/2016 winter trail map. Sherpa 2.0 will change how guests interact with the mountain and create a community rewarding those who help to improve the mountain experience.Learn more about Sherpa at www.CopperColorado.com/Sherpa.
An easily navigable, pedestrian-friendly, true mountain village lies in the heart of this affordable, accessible Colorado resort. Located just 75 miles west of Denver off Interstate 70, one of the closest in driving distance (you can rent or take a shuttle from DIA). Copper Mountain is a year-round mountain getaway offering a low-key, “genuine feeling” – dare I say a 1980s vibe where no matter your age, you feel like a teenager. Among the distinctive qualifies: Copper terrain offers naturally divided skiing and riding in the winter, and the renowned Woodward Copper training facility, offering sport-progression programs year-round action, not to mention free snowshoeing program.
Visit CopperColorado.com for more info.
Telluride has invested in new snowmaking equipment for 2014/15, which will allow for greater snowmaking capacity in high traffic areas off of Lifts 4 and 5, accessing the beginner and intermediate areas in the heart of Telluride’s trail system. Telluride’s new snowmaking system includes 38 new high efficiency Snowlogic snow guns. These snowmaking snow guns require 90 percent less energy to operate than other models.
Getting to Telluride: With North America’s #1 Resort Ranking (Condé Nast Traveler Reader’s Poll) and coming off a record year for visits, Telluride is seeing a 20% increase in destination flights this winter. Highlights include a 46% growth in seats from Dallas (DFW), new service from San Francisco (SFO), the return of service from Phoenix-Sky Harbor (PHX), and a doubling of flights from New York/Newark (EWR).
“The new and increased flights are a game changer for North America’s #1 resort,” said Telluride Ski & Golf President & GM Greg Pack. “We look forward to the significant added access from our top markets. We already have the easiest ski town to get around in with our two free gondolas and free public transit system, so making it easier for our guests to get here falls in line with our core strategy — make it easy for our guests.”
Along with DFW, PHX, EWR and SFO, non-stop service returns from Denver (DEN), Chicago (ORD), Houston (IAH) and Los Angeles (LAX) on United, and from Atlanta (ATL) on Delta.
With non-stop flights from 10 metropolitan airports and nine major U.S. hubs, Telluride ranks among the best in the Rockies for access.
For detailed schedule information, visit www.coloradoflights.org/schedule, or www.united.com, www.aa.com, www.delta.com and www.allegiantair.com.
For area resort and reservations information, visit www.visittelluride.com.
Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort
The new Burton Riglet Park at Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort will anchor the development of a multi-faceted ski and ride terrain-based learning facility in the base area. The Burton Riglet Park allows the youngest of riders, ages 3-6 years, to experience sliding on snow and get a jump start on learning while having fun on the slopes.
Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort is adding more snowmaking equipment to the front and back sides of the mountain. The resort is adding 11 new energy-efficient snowmaking tower guns, and a state-of-the-art, high-output fan gun, making the mountain operations team more efficient during the early season to establish a solid base that lasts throughout the entire ski season.
Getting to Purgatory: The Durango/La Plata Airport serves as Purgatory, Wolf Creek Ski Area and Silverton’s main portal for guests who are travelling lengthy distances. American Airlines offers daily nonstop jet service from the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, US Airways offers service from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, and Untied offers service from Denver International Airport.
For more information, visit www.durangomountainresort.com.
Arapahoe Basin. which again holds the title for being the first ski resort in the nation to open for the season (it opened October 17),will unveil a newKids Center in the spring of 2015. The A-Basin Kids Center will be more than 7,000 square feet and will add to the convenience of the base area. In addition to the amenities the Kids Center will provide for children in the Snowsports lessons and programs, the construction and décor of the building will be in line with the resort’s award-winning emphasis on sustainability. The Kids Center will be partially powered by solar energy, and will be decorated in the spirit of A-Basin’s on-mountain ecology education displays such as “Ace’s Wild Adventure,” and trails like Moose Hollow and Lynx Lane, where signage informs guests young and old about the flora and fauna ecosystem on the Continental Divide. Guests can follow the progress of the construction on the A-Basin Facebook page by clicking here: http://bit.ly/abkcphotos. For more information visit http://bit.ly/A-Basin-WhatsNew2015.
The reason that A-Basin is typically first to open each year and one of the last to close (early June) is that it is situated high on the Continental Divide, and offers the highest skiable terrain in North America and an unrivaled panorama of the snowcapped Rocky Mountains.
“We think of A-Basin as a unique place where it’s all about the skiing and riding. Although there are no lodges, condos or timeshares, Arapahoe Basin stands out from the other 26 resorts in Colorado because of its outstanding terrain, abundant snowfall, laid-back atmosphere, storied history and springtime festivities,” says Leigh Hierholzer, Director of Marketing, Sales, & Communications.
A-Basin boasts varied terrain, an average annual snowfall of 350″, and one of the longest ski seasons in North America (typically October through early June). “The Legend” has everything from steep chutes and wide-open powder bowls to intermediate spruce glades and kid-friendly learning areas and freestyle parks.
Montezuma Bowl is A-Basin’s newest terrain and was the largest terrain expansion in North America for the 07/08 season, adding 400 acres.
Pallavicini, A-Basin’s famed double-black diamond run, is regarded by skiers and riders world-wide as one of the steepest and most challenging runs in North America.
Moonlight Dinner Series— Bring your snowshoes and headlamp for 6 nights of great food prepared by Chef Christopher Rybak, libations and live entertainment at Black Mountain Lodge.
Arapahoe Basin is a 96 mile drive west from Denver International Airport via I-70 west (about five miles away from Keystone Resort, which has night skiing and accommodations which A-Basin doesn’t have); Keystone offers a Keystone-A-Basin pass for skiing at both resorts. A-Basin is also included in other passes such as Epic Pass (valid for Breckenridge, Keystone, Vail and Beaver Creek plus A-Basin) and Colorado Pass.
For more information, visit www.arapahoebasin.com, 888-ARAPAHOE (272-7246).
Information about CSCUSA and its members can be found at www.ColoradoSki.com, on Twitter @ColoradoSkiUSA and on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ColoradoSkiCountryUSA.
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