With local ski resorts just one month away from firing up the snowmaking machines, locals and visitors might be dreaming of fast groomers and deep pow.
The 2013-14 season experienced record-setting visitor numbers in the Colorado mountains, and resorts have been busy this summer installing upgrades and planning improvements they hope will keep the skiers and riders coming.
From major investments in on-mountain dining and learning centers to new chairlifts and snowmaking systems, here’s a roundup of the changes to expect this winter.
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area will unveil a new Kids Center in the spring. The three-story, 7,100-square-foot, $2.3 million center will be a place for kids in lessons and programs to rent gear, grab meals and warm up.
The building will house kids’ ski and snowboard rentals, lesson check-ins, a kitchen and dining space for snowsports students, a new first aid room, an employee locker room and expanded office spaces for the ski patrol.
In keeping with A-Basin’s commitment to environmental stewardship, the center will be outfitted with solar energy panels, low-flow toilets and a low-energy lighting system and will be decorated with ecology education displays.
Guests can follow the construction progress on the A-Basin Facebook page. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/A-Basin-WhatsNew2015.
This winter will be the first full season for Breckenridge Ski Resort’s Peak 6 terrain expansion, which opened last year on Dec. 25.
The biggest change at the resort from last season will be an upgraded Colorado Super Chair. The quad express lift will become a six-passenger express, increasing capacity on Peak 8’s most-used lift by 30 percent, helping to disperse skiers to the surrounding peaks and providing a faster route from Peaks 6 and 7 to Peak 9.
The resort will reopen Peak 9 Restaurant, for 40 years under private ownership, with an entirely remodeled interior.
Last winter, Copper Mountain introduced its Sherpa smartphone app, which provides hands-free, real-time insider intelligence across the entire mountain and was voted the 2013/2014 Best Use of Mobile Technology by the National Ski Areas Association. New this season, Copper will hand over Sherpa’s controls to everyone, and guests can create and share their own mountain tips and favorite trails.
Anyone will be able to leave geo-located audibles for others to hear when they ski or ride through them, and Copper will reward the best contributors with swag, tickets, passes and a prized spot on the next season’s winter trail map. Learn more at CopperColorado.com/Sherpa.
Loveland Ski Area is adding a second Magic Carpet surface lift at Loveland Valley, the resort’s beginner learning area, as well as Ginny Lee Cabin, a new warming hut off Chair 8 with views, restrooms and vending machines.
At Loveland Basin, a newly remodeled cafeteria will be unveiled this season with more food and beverage options and a more convenient dining experience.
The resort also has invested in snowmaking upgrades at both Loveland Basin and Loveland Valley to improve efficiencies and productivity. For more information, visit skiloveland.com.
Keystone Resort’s ski and ride school facility for kids will introduce a new slide that provides access to the snow from inside the building.
This year the Family Ski Trail, the School Yard, which was launched last season, will feature skiing and riding with Keystone’s mascot, Riperoo. The resort’s avy dogs and patrol teams will make regular photo appearances. The resort will also introduce a new “mine” in Riperoo’s Forest, a family adventure zone adjacent to the School Yard.
At the Bighorn Bistro, parents who want some alone time can take advantage of a new family brunch with separate perks for kids. Regular drinkers at the base area can take advantage of a new “mug club” at the Last Lift Bar at the Mountain House.
Ski Cooper will offer an on-mountain mobile food service with the new “Cat Trax” snow-cat. Like a food truck, Cat Trax will serve hot food at different locations on the mountain.
The rental shop will improve on last season’s remodel with more advances in efficiency that will enhance the flow of guests renting skis and snowboards.
In the base lodge, guests will experience the newly enhanced Pub. With an even more laid back vibe and atmosphere, the Pub will feature an Irish theme with Irish music and quality Irish beer. For more information, visit skicooper.com.
Lunch Rock Restaurant, Winter Park Resort’s largest on-mountain building construction in more than 25 years, will be a state-of-the-art facility used year-round, with a 150-seat heated deck, 250-seat indoor restaurant, bar and hydration station all with Colorado themes.
At 16,000 square feet, the new restaurant will be more than five times larger than the previous structure at Lunch Rock, which was built in 1985 at 11,200 feet. For more information, visit lunchrock.co.
Winter Park also will celebrate its 75th anniversary Jan. 28 with a weeklong series of events that kicks off with a celebration at the resort and finishes with Mary Jane’s 40th birthday party.
For more information on changes at other resorts, including Aspen/Snowmass, Crested Butte, Eldora Mountain Resort, Powderhorn, Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort, Silverton Mountain, Ski Granby Ranch, Steamboat, Sunlight Mountain, Telluride and Wolf Creek Ski Area, visit blog.coloradoski.com.
Like a food truck, Ski Cooper’s ‘Cat Trax’ mobile food service will bring hot food to different locations on the mountain.