How to retain resort employees? Colorado ski areas are building workforce housing — at the resorts |

How to retain resort employees? Colorado ski areas are building workforce housing — at the resorts

Like nearly every Colorado ski hill, Winter Park needed big money to help fix its employee housing problem. Enter its deep pocketed operator, Alterra, with a blueprint others can follow.

Tracy Ross
The Colorado Sun
Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun
A rider navigates between Winter Park ski area's villages using the Cabriolet gondola, Mar. 31, 2023, in Grand County. Employees living in the resort's planned on-site modular housing will be able to use the open-air lift, free of charge, to get to work and back at the mountain.
Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun

Roughly six months after Winter Park ski area held a foundation-laying ceremony for its latest big project, it’s preparing to begin construction of new, on-site employee housing about 100 yards from the Cabriolet lift, which accesses the mountain’s main base area and thousands of acres of skiable and bikeable terrain. 

In doing so, it will join a host of resorts offering on-site employee housing in Colorado and turn critical problems central to most ski towns — where to house workers and how to build density in the mountains — into a modular construction blueprint that other resorts may follow. 

Worker housing near the ski slopes is a challenge in the high country, where home prices have more than doubled since 2019. But resorts are making it happen. 

At Telluride ski area, Big Billie’s Apartments, with 146 double-occupancy studios, sits at the base of Lift 1 and Lift 10 and there’s a slopeside apartment complex in Mountain Village. In 2021, Copper completed a two-phase project called Sky Chutes Landing near the resort entrance, which resulted in 44 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments that can house 130 people. Copper’s The Edge housing tower also offers 542 beds a few steps from the lifts. Aspen Highlands houses employees in its village. And Beaver Creek houses them in The Tarnes, which is walkable to the Lower Beaver Creek Express and a short shuttle to Beaver Creek Village. 

That’s not to say other resorts haven’t stepped up efforts to tackle their employee housing issues. Lindsay Hogan, Vail Resorts’ spokesperson, says throughout all of the company’s North American resorts this winter season, they housed nearly 7,000 employees. “In Summit County, where Breckenridge and Keystone are located, we have nearly 2,000 beds in a variety of different unit types available,” she said. “In Eagle County, where Vail and Beaver Creek are located, we have more than 1,200 beds.” But many housing solutions lie away from resorts, which can add transportation challenges to mountain valleys. 

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