Ski resorts across the country started working on making this winter season better than the last at first sign of snow melt last spring. The “new” for 2017-18 began with lifts and extends to owning a piece of the mountain.
Probably the biggest infrastructure changes involve two iconic double chairs. Mechanics at Whitewater, near Nelson, spent the summer replacing the original Summit Chair, installed in 1976, with a fixed grip quad chair. The move will double uphill capacity on the resort’s signature face. SilverStar goes one better, replacing its 47-year-old Summit Chair with a Doppelmayr eight-person gondola. Running from the village to the resort’s summit, it speeds access across the mountain. And it’s just the beginning of the big news at the resort, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. Celebrations will take many forms throughout the winter.
Revelstoke Mountain Resort also celebrates a milestone birthday by adding uphill capacity. For its 10th anniversary RMR is adding 24 cabins on the Revelation Gondola and 21 chairs to the Stoke Chair, increasing lift capacity by 25 per cent.
The biggest trend in snow country, though, aims to fulfill appetites for…well…food, with investments in new and improved day lodges and restaurants across the west. Sun Peaks doubled lunch capacity at both its mid-mountain Sundance Lodge and base area Bento’s Day Lodge. On sunny days, the patio at Whistler’s upper mountain Roundhouse Lodge will be the place to be this winter with two new decked areas and the addition of the Whisky Jack’s Umbrella Bar. And Whitewater has doubled down on food-focused renos. They reworked the floor plan of their original Day Lodge, built by volunteers back in the day, adding new food services and a family play area. And at the backside Glory Chair base, the food truck pulled away in favour of an indoor eating experience. Both promise to maintain the top-notch food Whitewater is famous for.
Better indoor experiences are in the future for Red Mountain skiers, too, after 3,435 people joined CEO Howard Katkov as owners of the resort. The non-controlling share project raised more than $12 million, surpassing the resort’s $10-million goal. The money will go to new lodges and cabins and more improvements.
Finally, the effects of Vail Resorts’ acquisition of Whistler Blackcomb continue. Beyond the new patios at Whistler, the resort is building a Skywalk feature on the summit of Whistler Mountain. Whistler Blackcomb also joins Vail’s other resorts and ski hills around the world on the Epic Pass. The cost of admission to 45 resorts is US$859 (approximately C$1,117). An Unlimited Pass for WB, including unrestricted lift access and discounts on food, retail and heli-skiing, costs $1,229.
For a place famous as always being on the cutting edge, that’s one trend no one will complain about.
– Ryan Stuart