What’s new at Vail Mountain this year?
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado – Vail Mountain is a resort that never sleeps.
From new chairlifts to new snowmaking systems to new family-friendly adventures, Vail Mountain is constantly evolving to make sure it’s doing everything possible to back up its claim to be “Like Nothing on Earth.”
This season’s improvements show the resort won’t stop improving, even when a shaky economy leaves uncertainty for the future. Vail Resorts, the ski company that runs Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breckenridge, Heavenly, and now Northstar-at-Tahoe, spent in the neighborhood of $80 million last year on improvements throughout its resorts.
Vail Mountain alone will be showing off some of those recent investments this season. The following is a list of what’s new both on Vail Mountain and in the town of Vail this year:
High Noon Lift Replacement
Vail Mountain’s High Noon Lift, also known as Chair 5, was built in 1979 and removed following the 2009-2010 season to make way for a high-speed quad chairlift.
The construction for Vail’s new Chair 5 began last spring, when Vail Mountain removed the old chairlift and sent it to Nelson, British Columbia, where it was installed at the Whitewater Ski Resort.
The High Noon Express Lift will cut ride times out of the Sun Up and Sun Down Bowls nearly in half, from 11 to six minutes, and will nearly double the capacity from 1,400 people per hour to 2,400 people per hour.
Vail Mountain officials say the new High Noon Express Lift will significantly enhance the guest experience by improving skier circulation on the mountain, particularly in the Sun Up and Sun Down Bowl areas. Opening of the new lift is set to coincide with traditional openings of Vail’s Back Bowls in mid-December.
Tubing Hill expansion at Adventure Ridge
Vail Mountain’s tubing hill at Adventure Ridge was also upgraded during the summer months with additional tubing hill lanes and a new enclosed, elevated conveyor lift. Adventure Ridge currently offers adults and children a variety of winter activities including tubing, ski biking, kids snowmobiling, nature snowshoe tours and more. The additional tubing lanes and upgraded lift will provide guests with an easier tubing experience and faster lift times, resort officials say, allowing time for more laps.
In August, Vail Resorts announced its new EpicMix program – a technology that skiers and snowboarders won’t even notice, said Chief Executive Officer Rob Katz.
“(Technology) has to be seamless, hassle-free, or it’s very difficult to get people to use it,” Katz said.
EpicMix is a new online and digital application that will allow radio frequency scanners installed at all of the company’s 89 chairlifts to read the radio frequency chips already installed in season and peak passes. The scans will enter data to an online personal account that will track how many vertical feet traveled and which ski lifts were ridden. It includes capabilities to share the information with others via Facebook or Twitter.
The radio frequency chip has already been in season and Peak passes for three seasons, and now the company has found a way to enhance it in exactly the way it wants to use technology – without guests having to change a thing about the way they ski or ride.
“We’ve been using technology to improve the experience, but we’re making sure that in no way it interferes with the experience,” Katz said.
The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Vail
Vail Resorts’ latest development, which will be operated under the Ritz-Carlton brand, opened in the fall.
The building has approximately 71 luxury residences, ranging in size from two-bedroom homes to a six-bedroom penthouse.
The Residences will offer an array of luxury services and amenities, including concierge services, a fitness center, outdoor pool and hot tubs, ski valet, great room, library and more.
The Ritz-Carlton Residences in Vail did see closings on all of the 45 fractional units there just after the end of fiscal 2010, for a total of $110.9 million. The Marriott corporation bought all of the fractional units.
There are 48 of the 71 wholly owned units currently under contract, with closings expected to start happening over the next couple of months, said Vail Resorts Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Jones.
“We anticipate, given the status of the real estate market, although there’s definitely more activity than a year ago and a positive to have buildings complete and people being able to access them, that it’s going to take a multi-year time period to get these sold through,” Jones said, referring to both One Ski Hill Place in Breckenridge and the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Vail.
Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail
Slated to open Dec. 11, Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail will be the first Four Seasons property to open in Colorado, and only the third mountain property in the collection.
Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail will feature a 121-room resort, as well as 19 fractional residences sold at 1/12 interests, and 16 whole-ownership private residences.
The complex will have a ski concierge at the base of the Vista Bahn Express Lift, a restaurant and a spa.
Solaris developer Peter Knobel expects the new Meadow Drive project to become the new center of Vail Village.
The residence club features 77 three- and four-bedroom residences with mountain views. The public plaza at the development includes an open-air ice skating rink, which is scheduled to open Dec. 5, fountains, public art, a 10-lane bowling alley and restaurant, shopping, dining and Cinebistro, an upscale three-screen movie theater. Visit http://www.solarisvail.com for more information.
Think of Snow Daze – Vail Mountain’s annual concert weekend – but for families. Holidaze is a week-long event new this holiday season, from Dec. 18-24.
The event will feature kids’ concerts, an ice show, gingerbread decorating, ice sculptures, caroling and other holiday-themed family activities.
Vail Mountain spokeswoman Liz Biebl said the resort is positioning Vail Snow Daze and Vail Holidaze as “destination December.”
For more information, visit Vail.com/holidaze.
Kids Adventure Zones get a facelift
Kids of all ages will be greeted at the entrances of Chaos Canyon, Magic Forest, Sherwood Forest, Porcupine Alley, Coyote’s Escape and Buckskin Glade with new wooden corbels, among other features, as part of an ongoing upgrade to more cohesively tie together Vail’s Kids Adventure Zones.
All six zones have or will be receiving new signs and carved wooden features throughout.
Vail.com goes mobile
Visit m.vail.com for the latest mountain conditions, real-time mountain cam views, directions, traffic updates, last-minute lodging, activities and events in a mobile-friendly format. Get mobile alerts sent directly to your phone when Vail Mountain receives new snow.
Spring Back to Vail
This week of events is usually the last week of the season, but a later ski season this year means the event will take place the second to last week of the season, as well as the last weekend of the season, April 11-17, and April 23-24.
This free weekly concert series will be held on Thursday nights this season rather than Wednesday nights. The new schedule was created with the intent to attract more business from the Front Range, potentially encouraging that business to come to Vail a day earlier to start a long weekend, according to the Vail Valley Foundation, which sponsors the event.
The Terrace level will look different this year, Biebl said. Building upon the remodeling last year including the addition of an Asian station and soup station, Vail has added a fish taco station, revamped the salad bar and added more items and created a dedicated sushi station. The seating has also been upgraded throughout the Terrace level.
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