This season, Vail Resorts has invested approximately $100 million across their portfolio of properties. Not all of these dollars will impact your skiing experience at Vail or Beaver Creek. For example, over $13 million was spent on new lifts and other improvements to Wilmont Mountain, Wisconsin, the largest influx of cash into that ski area in the mountain’s 79-year history. That’s great, but to be honest, we don’t expect you to pack up and head to Wisconsin to check out a new terrain park or new lifts at Wilmont.
Still, there’s a lot to boast about locally, with plenty of dollars invested here. And that’s good news for Vail Valley skiers and snowboarders as we look towards opening day (November 18 for Vail and November 23 for Beaver Creek).
Local improvements are highlighted by a new lift at Vail. We know that the Back Bowls can get crowded and the slow triple, Chair 9, that supplemented Chair 5 in Sun Up and Sun Down Bowls has finally been removed in favor of a high-speed quad out of Sun Up Bowl. How this will impact the notorious powder day lines at Chair 5 remains to be seen, but with a 4-minute ride time and an increased capacity of 65% over the old lift, this new chair is a huge upgrade over the old lift which featured an 8-minute ride that felt even longer on cold and windy days.
Other local improvements include a substantial renovation of The Pines Lodge at Beaver Creek and a new restaurant at Breckenridge. The Pines will see its 60 hotel rooms completely renovated to match the mountain modern environment of the lobby and public spaces (which already received a makeover) and the new restaurant at Breckenridge, called Pioneer Crossing, will seat approximately 500 and will offer house-made options like salads and a Mediterranean station.
Of course, while we’ll all be itching to ride the new Sun Up Express, locals also can avail themselves of several less-noticeable investments. These include five free days of skiing at Whistler-Blackcomb, courtesy of Vail Resorts' acquisition of this legendary Canadian resort (it’s expected that in the 2017-18 that the ski area will be fully integrated into the Epic Pass).
So while shiny new lifts are fun toys, and skiing for free in Canada are great amenities for Epic Pass holders, let's not overlook the substantial investment VR continues to make locally in providing the race crew, snowmakers and other staff to host the Audi Birds of Prey World Cup at Beaver Creek and the Burton US Open snowboarding championships in Vail, world-class competitions that bring the world to our little valley, and events those of us who live here sometimes take for granted.