Ski area chiefs tout amenities for new season |

Ski area chiefs tout amenities for new season

FRISCO – Arapahoe Basin officials hope to forge ahead with plans to incorporate Montezuma Bowl and the Beavers into their boundaries next year, according to Alan Henceroth, director of marketing for the resort east of Keystone.

Officials also plan to renew their marketing agreement with Vail Resorts that allows skiers holding Breckenridge, Keystone, Vail or Beaver Creek passes to ski on the slopes at the Basin.

Those goals were among many chief operations officers (COOs) from Summit County’s four resorts outlined at a Summit County Chamber panel luncheon Friday.

Other improvements at Arapahoe Basin will include a remodeled base area, an improved scanning system that should make it easier to scan Buddy Passes, improvements on the north side of the mountain and snowmaking on Molly Hogan, Ramrod, High Noon, Lenawee Face and Dercum’s Gulch runs. Most of the snowmaking equipment, including hydrants, will be underground.

“It’s finally happening,” Henceroth said. “We’re halfway done.”

For years, resort officials have wanted to implement snowmaking at the ski area east of Keystone, but it wasn’t until recently they received final approval from the Army Corps of Engineers. Snowmaking would have been beneficial last season when the ski area received 173 inches of snow – half its 10-year average.

“We have water,” Henceroth said. “Definitely not a lot of water, but we will have enough to make snow.”

The resort, owned by Avon-based Dundee Realty USA, also spent $400,000 to install infrastructure for a midway restaurant it hopes to build sometime in the future.

The resort will continue for a third year its Bookin’ to the Basin program, by which middle school students can earn a free A-Basin season pass by reading 36 or more hours.

Roger McCarthy, COO of Breckenridge Ski Resort, touted the agreement resort officials forged with the town of Breckenridge to proceed with development plans at the bases of Peaks 7 and 8 and in-town properties the resort owns. The deal was shaped in a few hours at Mayor Sam Mamula’s kitchen table in May.

“In April, I was telling (the) Vail Resort Development Co. board of directors I didn’t think we’d get a deal done,” McCarthy said. “The outcome is a great deal for the town and a great deal for us.”

That resort has undergone extensive on-mountain construction this year, including the construction of the Peak 8 SuperConnect Lift, which will take skiers from Peak 9 to Peak 8; the Independence Lift on Peak 7, which will make it easier to access runs built there last summer; snowmaking infrastructure on Peak 7; and a remodel of the Vista Haus on Peak 8 and the Maggie Building at the base of Peak 9.

“I’d actually like to have a direct hit from an intercontinental ballistic missile on that whole building,” he said about the Maggie. “But we’re just going to do our best with $250,000 or $300,000 in that.”

The addition of 165 acres – 136 of which are skiable – will increase the amount of intermediate terrain at Breckenridge by 30 percent, which McCarthy said virtually adds another day to the ski experience.

Dave Barry, COO at Copper Mountain Resort, said that resort experienced its best year ever last season, with 1.005 million skiers. He attributed its success to a four-legged stool comprising happy employees, goals to “wow” the guests, ensure that the ski company remains financially viable and is active within the community.

Intrawest, the company that owns Copper Mountain, spent $8 million to transform Club Med into employee housing, complete with computer access, linens, a theater and three meals a day.

Other work at the resort has included construction of the Lake Buildings and preparatory work on the Kokomo Learning Center at the top of L Lift.

Barry said Copper Mountain, being the only Summit County resort that can’t accept other ski areas’ passes, is a lot like the little engine that could. But, he noted, in a recent RRC survey, Copper Mountain was rated tops in crowd handling, value, employee attitude and service, among other assets.

All that bragging left little room for John Rutter, COO of Keystone, to tout the improvements at that resort.

“We’re just going to continue to be boring old Keystone,” he joked, adding that he is predicting historic record snowfall that will bury his competition. “And what that means to Keystone? I kind of wonder, too.”

In reality, the resort plans to continue its winter “Party in the Peaks” at Park Lane Pavilion in January and February. Some of the events will include a concert series, a beach party on ice , a Hump Day Triple M Series – composed of martinis, mai tais, margaritas and music – at the Great Northern Tavern, Kickapoo and Paisano’s; and Saturday Night Fever, where John Travolta wannabes can dance to a funky 1970s act in the River Run Events Plaza.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or

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