Snow, cold temperatures a boon for resorts |

Snow, cold temperatures a boon for resorts

Melanie Wong
Vail Mountain makes snow Thursday on Born Free in preparation for opening weekend. Sustained colder temperatures have allowed for increased productivity for the snowmaking department. Vail Mountain opens for the season Friday.
Townsend Bessent | |

VAIL — The roads were clear and the grass was green when the Vail Valley went to sleep on Tuesday night, but Wednesday morning brought nearly half a foot of snow to both Vail and Beaver Creek — and it kept coming through the morning.

The snowstorm and frigid temperatures this week have provided a boost for both resorts as they prepare the slopes for opening day. Vail opens Friday, and Beaver Creek opens Nov. 25.

The week brought 8 inches of new snow to Vail and 1 foot to Beaver Creek. Another storm is forecasted for Monday and Tuesday.

“We are completely focused on winter operations. We’ve had great snowmaking temperatures recently, and we’ve got cat crews out dozing and prepping trails to open,” said Elizabeth Howe, Vail Mountain’s senior director of mountain operations.

“We are working hard to get the mountain ready, and we’re really excited for the season.”Elizabeth HoweSenior director of mountain operations, Vail Mountain

She explained that each slope has its own microclimate, and crews work to match the temperature and humidity levels to create the best conditions for snowmaking. The upcoming storms should really help, as well.

“We are working hard to get the mountain ready, and we’re really excited for the season. I’m not sure what Opening Day will hold for us exactly as far as terrain and snow, but we’re definitely ready to get things open.”

More grooming coming

This winter will bring a number of big improvements to Vail Mountain. That includes the unveiling of a new Avanti Express (Chair 2), which was replaced with a six-pack chair with loading carpet. In addition, EpicMix time will debut at Vail, giving app users real time liftline waiting times.

Another change that skiers and riders may notice is the resort’s grooming program. Starting this season, cat crews will groom an extra 2,000 acres per week, which translates to five or six extra runs each night.

“For example, we’re intending to groom Avanti every night, and before it was every other night,” Howe said. “We’ll also be grooming Blue Ox, everyone’s favorite groomed run, more often. Before, it was groomed only once a week.”

The winter buzz

While the mountains prepare for opening day, hotels, restaurants and other businesses are also getting ready for the season.

Yeti’s Grind in Vail is in its fifth year of business and in the midst of training its winter staff. The first few snowstorms make the ski season feel imminent, said owner Tara Picklo.

“The early snow makes it real — you think, ‘We’re doing this. We’re going to ski. It’s winter,’” she said. “All our staff is here, and they’re excited. We’re getting ready for the rush of the holidays, which can have big ups and downs for business. But by January, we hit our stride.”

At the Park Hyatt at Beaver Creek, the hotel is preparing to open for the season with a brand new $1 million renovation of the lobby, which includes a new bar called Antler Hall. Plus, Powder 8, which the Park Hyatt runs, will be adding dinner service on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays with a family-friendly beer hall concept. To put it simply, there’s a lot to do.

“We’re about 90 percent hired, and our seasonal help is arriving. We’re just getting everyone on board,” said Christian Apetz, executive chef.

Watching the snowstorm earlier in the week from the slopeside hotel had everyone excited for the season, he said.

“We got a foot, and the whole hotel was just jazzed. Everyone was looking outside. In fact, we’re handing out ski passes as we speak,” said Apetz on Friday afternoon.

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 or at Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.

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