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Colorado ski areas spending millions on upgrades
New lifts, lodges, parks and perks are behind the more than $100 million that Colorado's ski areas are pumping into their hills for the upcoming season.
On the heels of the busiest U.S. ski season ever and defying the rumbling over a possible double-dip recession, ski areas are returning to the high times with upgrades and investments that mirror the industry's boom years in the early 2000s.
The mammoth Vail Resorts, the top dog in the state's tourism industry with four Colorado ski areas, is leading the charge with upward of $128 million in upgrades to its six hills, including a new high-speed chair in Beaver Creek's Rose Bowl, a new eatery on Vail Mountain and $30 million in work at its newest resort, California's
Colorado's other 22 ski areas are injecting more than $50 million into upgrades, with a new chair and terrain at Aspen's Buttermilk and new lifts at Copper Mountain, Loveland, Monarch and Ski Cooper.
Tapping the vibe of playful skiers and 'boarders, several resorts are elevating their terrain parks with creative additions such as SolVista's natural log park and trick-friendly features. Winter Park's now dug-in halfpipe will energize its Rail Yard Terrain Park and require less manmade snow (i.e., water and energy) during installation.
Durango Mountain Resort and Crested Butte Mountain Resort are boosting their above-snow play with ski-up zip lines, while Monarch adds a new Sno-Cat for its backcountry powder chasers and Wolf Creek replaces its race hut.
Aspen Skiing Co., a national leader in earth-friendly construction, is constructing its fifth super- green building with its 300-seat Elk Camp restaurant, scheduled to open for the 2012-13 season. The company is also renovating Aspen Highlands' midmountain Merry- Go-Round restaurant. Crested Butte too is revamping its midhill Paradise Warming House, and Steamboat is building a new apres- ski bar at the slopeside Steamboat Grand hotel.
Copper Mountain's new partnership with the U.S. Ski Team means a smarter snowmaking system will help American racers train in the early season. Loveland, Steamboat and Eldora Mountain Resort also are enhancing their snowmaking operations.
Then there's the simple stuff that's only noticeable when it's wrong. New paving at Monarch will shift the parking lot from a muddy dash to a simple stroll. Heated pavers will eliminate wading on the approach to Steamboat's slopes. And frills-free Silverton Mountain is going swank with a used carpet to cover the very-used carpet in its base tent.
"Talk about plush," Silverton Mountain owner Aaron Brill said.
Jason Blevins: 303-954-1374 or firstname.lastname@example.org