The 2013-14 winter ski and snowboard season is barely in the rearview mirror, but core enthusiasts and resort operators are already looking ahead to winter 2014-15. With seven days to go in the spring season pass selling period, Vail Resorts (NYSE: MTN)is announcing many new resort improvements for its guests for next winter, including multiple express chairlifts and restaurants, room renovations and a one-of-a-kind snowmaking upgrade designed to automatically refresh snow surfaces throughout the season. Vail Resorts anticipates spending approximately $85 million to elevate the guest experience for 2014-15, which brings its five-year resort investment total to $492 million.
“At Vail Resorts, we place the highest importance on offering an unparalleled guest experience, and investing nearly $500 million over the last five years is evidence of that,” said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer for Vail Resorts. “We’re very strategic about the projects we undertake and their overall impact on the guest experience at each of our 10 resorts. Each one of these projects is a game changer for the guests of that particular resort.”
Projects underway and planned this summer for the 2014-15 winter season include:
Beaver Creek Chair 6 Combination Lift and Snowmaking Upgrades – The new combination gondola/six-passenger express lift replaces Centennial Express, Beaver Creek’s primary portal. With one gondola cabin for every five chairs, the new combination lift offers a guest-friendly loading option for beginners and Ski and Snowboard School, and all guests will benefit from the 35 percent increase in uphill capacity. In addition, 34 new, fully-automated, state-of-the-art snowmaking guns will line Gold Dust and Lower Larkspur trails to automatically refresh the snow surface conditions throughout the season. This one-of-a-kind system ensures, regardless of natural snowfall, the resorts’ guests will always be skiing or riding on the freshest snow available every day.
Breckenridge Colorado Super Chair and Peak 9 Restaurant Renovation – On the heels of launching Peak 6 last season, the ski industry’s most significant terrain expansion in the last decade, upgrading the Colorado Super Chair from a quad express to a six-passenger express will provide a 30 percent increase in capacity for Peak 8’s primary and most-used lift. It will help disperse skiers to the surrounding peaks and provides a faster route from Peaks 6 and 7 to Peak 9, where an entire interior remodel of the existing Peak 9 restaurant, along with a new kitchen will provide a warm, welcoming, high-quality guest experience at the resort’s most scenic dining location, sitting at 11,274 feet.
The Lodge at Vail Renovation – Vail’s most historic hotel, The Lodge at Vail, A RockResort, will undergo significant renovations to 56 hotel rooms and the lobby for the 2014-15 winter season, including contemporary mountain interior finishes, furnishings, soft goods, lighting and the installation of air conditioning. The lobby’s refresh will include new furnishings, textiles, paint, artwork and lighting designed to maintain the boutique hotel’s authentic character and cozy ambiance. The property will remain open for business during the renovations, starting in August and completing in December.
Canyons Cloud Dine and Snowmaking Expansion – Heading into its second year of operating Canyons, Vail Resorts is replacing the temporary Cloud Dine structure with a permanent, 316-seat restaurant, a 41 percent increase in seating capacity. Cloud Dine is the only on-mountain restaurant serving the Dream Peak and Iron Mountain lift pods. Upgrading Canyons’ pump station will increase snowmaking efficiency by 25 percent and will enable top-to-bottom skiing and superior early-season snow surface conditions.
No other pass combines this level of consistent resort improvements with 28,830 skiable acres, 27,136 vertical feet, 34 terrain parks and 40 skiing bowls, as well as complimentary access to mountains across multiple continents.
“These resort improvements really elevate the guest experience and separate our resorts from the competition in their regions, as well as across the country,” said Kirsten Lynch, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts. “We’re constantly reinvesting in our resorts, which is one of the reasons we sell Epic Passes in all 50 states in the U.S. as well as 80 countries. The experience and the value are unmatched.”
Vail Resorts offers multiple pass options for the 2014-15 season, including the Epic Pass™ ($729 for adults and $379 for children) offering unlimited skiing or riding at 11 resorts including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Canyons in Park City, Utah; Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe; Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan. No blackout days or restrictions apply. Plus, receive up to five free days at Les 3 Vallees, France and Verbier, Switzerland, when staying at select accommodations. New for winter 2014-15, Epic Pass purchasers will have access to five complimentary consecutive days at Niseko, Japan–known as one of the snowiest and most celebrated powder skiing resorts in the world. At this spring rate, the Epic Pass pays for itself in just over five days. Guests can pay just $49 by May 26, 2014 to lock in the guaranteed lowest price for a season pass and receive two Buddy Tickets for 2014-15.
Image courtesy Vail Resorts