Howard: A cheerful holiday season |

Howard: A cheerful holiday season

Beth Howard
Valley Voices
Beth Howard

We hope you enjoyed Vail Mountain’s 60th Anniversary Birthday Bash. It felt great to celebrate the mountain’s anniversary with champagne toasts, birthday cake, the launch of our first Ice Bar, live mountaintop music, and concerts in the village.

Most importantly, it was outstanding to see our December storms line up with snow and ideal snowmaking temperatures so we could open the Back Bowls on the actual day of Vail Mountain’s 60th anniversary — almost two weeks before we could open them last season.

Vail Mountain has amazing guest circulation when we’re up and running. Heading into the holidays you can expect about 4,000 acres of terrain open for our community and guests. You can also expect our dining operations to be prepared, providing the elevated food and beverages you know and love. With almost all of the mountain’s front side, the Back Bowls, Blue Sky Basin and restaurants open, we expect skiers and snowboarders to spread out far and wide.

I’m also excited to report that our lift projects are progressing well. We anticipate having the new Game Creek Express (No. 7) six-passenger lift and Game Creek Bowl open on Christmas week. Our team is busy making snow on Game Trail which is an important egress now that the lift is load tested. I hope everyone gets a few spins on our new chairlift over the holiday. We will also open the Mongolia Platter (No. 22) and Earl’s Express (No. 38).

While the storm cycle that allowed us to open the Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin was amazing, it delayed some critical construction evolutions, like last week’s helicopter flight to run cables for the new Sun Down Express (No. 17). We’re looking at a timeline in January to have this new lift spinning. In the meantime, we’re working on plans to open Sun Up Express (No. 5) as soon as possible. Follow our social media channels for the latest information as we hone in on an opening date for the new Sun Down Express. For our community, this later opening will be one of the best post-holiday Sun Down Bowl experiences ever.

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We’ve also been having fun launching so many new anniversary touches across the mountain. Bistro 14 has reopened with a gallery-inspired aesthetic featuring fine art photographer Gray Malin. We’re happy to get to share a sneak peek at Gray’s work ahead of its release in mid-January. We’ve also had an amazing response to the Eagle’s Nest Ice Bar, with the accompanying Snow Bungalows available for reservations soon. Swing by the Legacy Hut and send your own Vail Mail from Vail’s highest mailbox — a commemorative postcard and postage on us! And I hope you’ve seen our new archway that frames up Mount of the Holy Cross at Eagle’s Nest, and a mural that replicates the original Vail Mountain Opening Day sign at Wildwood. We have so much more planned for this season, and I really hope you’re able to experience some of these special 60th touches.

I’m so fortunate to have connected with many of our local leaders and passionate community members throughout the early season. Seeing you enjoy the mountain in a way that Mother Nature hasn’t necessarily provided over the past several years is spectacular.

Finally, I want to extend immense gratitude to my team for preparing the mountain safely and quickly, and delivering an amazing experience over the holiday time period. Nothing would be possible without them.

I’m optimistic about a cheerful holiday season, and please say hello if you see me on the mountain. Best wishes for a happy holiday and a wonderful New Year.

Beth Howard is the vice president and chief operating officer at Vail Mountain.

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