Resort Report: Tahoe transformation, sales, upgrades & sewage

Vail is off and running at Northstar-at-Tahoe, where a $30 million off-season investment will result in a new chairlift and a new on-mountain restaurant. Plus, Wisp Ski Resort could be for sale, Snowbowl's sewage-fed snowmaking and Sugarbush's discounted pass for the 20-some generation in this Resort Report.
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Vail Resorts’ purchase of Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort is already resulting in a transformation on the area’s slopes. By the time the 2011-2012 season begins, $30 million in capital improvement projects currently underway will result in a new high-speed chairlift and two new intermediate ski trails, construction of an on-mountain restaurant, and a new 22-foot halfpipe that will be designed by Shaun White, who signed a contract with Vail to call Northstar his home mountain and primary training resort. The new chairlift, dubbed the “Promised Land Express,” is a detachable express quad with a vertical rise of 1,440 feet, which will double the resort’s lift capacity on The Backside of the mountain, and also serve two new intermediate trails. The “Zephyr Lodge” restaurant, also under construction, will offer 500 indoor seats as well as 200 outdoor deck seats. 

Wisp Resort could hit the sales block

The Baltimore Sun reports that the Wisp Ski Resort may be up for sale in the near future, as the area’s ownership group looks for ways to pay off debts incurred in the construction of an 18-hold golf course and home community near Maryland’s Deep Creek Lake. Karen Myers, one of the three partners of Wisp Resort in Garrett County, told the Sun that the partners were having trouble negotiating the repayment of a $28.5 million loan with BB&T Corp. Along with potentially selling the resort--which Myers said is a “vibrant, profitable business”--options include refinancing and bringing on additional investors.

Snowbowl’s ‘snow sewage’ gets dirty press

The Snowbowl Ski Resort in Flagstaff, Ariz., is getting plenty of press for its decision to begin using as much as 180 million gallons of sewage effluent in their artificial snowmaking plans this season. Several newspapers and magazines have reported on the construction of the 15-mile pipeline that will pump the wastewater from the sewage plant to a holding reservoir at the mountain. The process of turning poop to powder has actually been in use for a couple decades now in mountain towns, but that doesn’t mean the local Arizona residents--and especially the Native Americans who consider the San Francisco Peaks where the Snowbowl sits as sacred ground--have to like it. On Aug. 25, 2011, Native American groups in California, Montana, New Mexico and Oregon protested the practice, saying that it “desecrated” the land and that “It is time that it comes to a halt.”

Bachelor invests $3.5 million in lodges and lifts

Powdr Corp. is also investing, plugging $3.5 million into Oregon’s Mt. Bachelor toward numerous projects. On-mountain improvements include continued technological and mechanical upgrades to existing high-speed chairlifts such as Skyliner, Northwest and Summit Express, and the addition of three new grooming machines to the fleet. The resort is also renovating food service outlets in all on-mountain lodges, including a new Umbrella Bar for Sunrise Lodge. The Umbrella Bar will seat up to 60 people in a heated, circular structure with removable glass walls and a retractable umbrella ceiling for sunny days.

Whitefish begins repairs on Chair 1

Whitefish Mountain Resort has begun repairing Chair 1 in hopes of having it up and running for Scenic Life rides next month. Crews started drilling the foundation of tower six the week of Aug. 22nd. Engineers will drill nearly thirty micropiles, which will run more than 60 feet below the tower in some areas, to reinforce against slides. “Normally when you build a ski lift, you don't go this far. It's obviously an expensive process to go to this length. But because of the moisture of the area, and the steepness of the slope, we have to go to this length to do this,” Whitefish Mountain Resort Public Relations Manager Riley Polumbus told the Associated Press.

Sugarbush rolls out new pass for 20-some generation

Sugarbush is rolling out a season pass option for skiers and snowboarders in their 20s. Known as the For20s Pass, the option is available to anyone aged 19-29, providing unlimited skiing at both Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen for $299. “People in their 20s are busy starting careers and in some cases starting families. At Sugarbush, we want to make sure that they’re also keeping skiing and snowboarding part of their lives,” said Win Smith, president of Sugarbush. “I first skied in college when I was 19 and didn’t return to skiing until I was 35. I missed a lot of great skiing during those years.”

--Peter Kray


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