Construction in the East

Biggest Ski Resort Expansion In 15 Years Hits East Coast

Larry Olmsted Contributor Aug 5, 2018

Like many skiers who grew up in New York City, I spent some formative years on the slopes at Hunter Mountain. While not as big as the Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine resorts that dominate eastern skiing, Hunter has the golden rule of real estate going for it: location, location and location. At under two and a half hours from midtown (without traffic: the Daily News got there in 2:22), it’s less than half the time behind the wheel of the Vermont resorts, the next closest, and is appreciably bigger than any of the other mountains closer to the city. The News calls it, “The granddaddy of all the nearby ski-areas.”
But it is about the get even bigger. The $9 million Hunter North project is underway and will open for the coming season, and the mountain’s owner, Peak Resorts, claims it is the largest ski area expansion in the East in the past 15 years. Hunter North will add five all new trails, but perhaps more importantly, four large gladed areas in between them. Overall this increases skiable area by 25%, but it increases glade skiing at Hunter by a whopping 800%. All five new trails have snowmaking, as do 100% of the existing 58.
The new trails will be serviced in three and a half minutes by a new high speed 6-pack chair, and while Hunter has always been known for being good at moving people around the mountain, this will make it the only mountain in New York State (which has a surprisingly large number of ski resorts and twice hosted the Winter Olympic Games, once more than Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine combined) with two 6-packs. To better access the new lift and area, Hunter North is also getting its own all new entrance, parking lots and satellite base lodge.

Compared to industry giants Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Company, Peak Resorts is a small player, but they are big in the Northeast, where half of the company’s 14 resorts are located. The best known of these is Mount Snow, one of Vermont’s major destination ski resorts, and like Hunter, known for being the closest and most accessible in the Green Mountain State to the New York metro area, over a full hour closer than most competitors. Peak Resorts is spending another $22 million on its new flagship Carinthia Base Lodge at Mount Snow, where it anchors the East’s top terrain park. Built 10-years ago, the Carinthia park area was and still is pretty revolutionary in the world of skiing and snowboarding, with nine terrain parks including a super pipe spread across its own 100-acre mountain face. The new 42,000-square foot lodge is five-times the size of the one it is replacing - just the heated deck is bigger than the entire old lodge. It features a new coffee bar, two real bars, a large modern multi-station cafeteria, a sit-down restaurant, retail, rental shop, and ski patrol office. This comes on the heels of last season’s $30 million snow making upgrade, giving Mt. Snow some of the most reliable conditions in the east.

Like it’s bigger competitors, Peak Resorts has created its own multi-mountain season pass product, the Peak Pass (read all about this great trend in the ski industry here). It offers unlimited skiing and riding at seven northeastern mountains in Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire and Vermont, the biggest of which are Mt. Snow, Hunter and Attitash and Wildcat in NH. There are several iterations of the pass, but notably their Drifter model redefines the notion of a youth pass by offering a substantial discount on the all access, no blackout option for everyone under 30 at $399. Those 30 and over fork over $829 (reduced to $599 until 10/19/18) but get some additional benefits like lodging discounts and free skiing at the company’s Midwestern resorts. By comparison, in the Northeast, Vail Resorts’ national industry leading Epic Pass includes Stowe and Okemo in Vermont and Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire, while Alterra’s Ikon Pass includes Maine’s two biggies, Sunday River and Sugarloaf; Vermont’s Sugarbush, Stratton and Killington, New Hampshire’s Loon and Quebec’s Tremblant.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/larryolmsted/2018/08/05/biggest-ski-resort-expansion-in-15-years-hits-east-coast/#70a760567780
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Comments

  • edited August 8
    What is the larger expansion they are referring to 15 years ago?
    A 25% increase in skiable area? Five medium length trails, one lift, and gladed areas that will be rarely usable.
    Marketing spin machine. BS
  • Well said. I believe the Waterville Green Peak expansion was as large if not larger.
  • NJSki said:

    What is the larger expansion they are referring to 15 years ago?

    Maybe Jackson Gore?
  • jaytrem said:

    NJSki said:

    What is the larger expansion they are referring to 15 years ago?

    Maybe Jackson Gore?
    Jordan Bowl, etc at SR? Or Gore?
  • edited August 8
    biggest expansions in the east would have to go to

    Jackson Gore-2003
    Tremblant 2007
    Burnt Ridge at Gore-2008


    So at most largest in 12 years.
    ~Rich~
  • I would also say:

    Loon-South Peak
    Cannon Mtn-Mittersill
    Bretton Woods-Rosebrook & Stickney
    Gore- North Creek Snow Bowl

    SMH Huntah
  • NJSki said:

    I would also say:

    Loon-South Peak
    Cannon Mtn-Mittersill
    Bretton Woods-Rosebrook & Stickney
    Gore- North Creek Snow Bowl

    SMH Huntah

    Agree. Those top to added whole new mountains.
  • I find it most interesting that Peaks NH resorts were barely mentioned at all while the two big resorts got the real coverage. I know there is less going on, but still.
  • Sully said:

    I find it most interesting that Peaks NH resorts were barely mentioned at all while the two big resorts got the real coverage. I know there is less going on, but still.

    My guess is, Forbes magazine and the author are in NYC. He didn't venture far physically and in thought from home.
  • This ropeways article has a little more information, including "state of the art" base lodge. I think it will have high speed lunch trays!

    ropeways.net | Home | 2018-08-14
    Peak Resorts’ Expansion Projects Transforming Two of the Company’s Northeast Resorts

    WILDWOOD, Mo., -- Peak Resorts, Inc. announced that construction on its projects at Mount Snow in Vermont and Hunter Mountain in New York is progressing on schedule ahead of the 2018/19 skiing and riding season. These projects, which combined represent approximately $32 million in upgrades across the two properties, have set a number of milestones for the Company, including its largest-ever base lodge and the Eastern United States' largest ski area expansion in over 15 years.

    Jesse Boyd, Vice President of Operations at Peak Resorts, commented, "The Hunter North project at Hunter Mountain and the new Carinthia Base Lodge project at Mount Snow each represent a significant undertaking and our ability to accomplish both in one summer is a great testament to the dedicated teams we have in place at our resorts. It's been amazing to watch these two projects evolve and we can't wait for our Peak Pass holders and guests to experience these new and improved properties this coming winter."

    The Hunter North project will expand Hunter Mountain's skiable terrain by 80 acres, encompassing five new trails and four new gladed skiing areas, thereby driving a one-third increase in the total acreage Hunter has to offer and making Hunter the third largest ski area in New York by number of trails. These five new trails, including four intermediate trails and one beginner trail, will be serviced by a fully automated snowmaking system and brand new high-speed six-person chair lift as well as a new entrance to the resort off Route 23a that leads to 250 additional parking spaces. This entirely new mountain face will add much needed intermediate terrain to the Company's leading Catskills resort that is already known for its great beginner terrain and steep and challenging black diamond terrain, making Hunter more inviting and approachable for families.

    Russ Coloton, General Manager at Hunter Mountain, commented, "Hunter North is a game-changer for Hunter Mountain as it dramatically expands our winter offerings and adds variety to our terrain. Featuring predominantly intermediate terrain serviced by the yet-to-be-named high-speed six-person chair lift, Hunter North will allow our resort to broaden its appeal and improve on-mountain traffic flows over the course of the winter season. Views from the additional terrain are spectacular and I am confident that visitors to Hunter Mountain this winter will enjoy an unrivaled skiing and riding experience."
    Representing a further evolution of Mount Snow, the Carinthia Base Lodge project is set to replace the old 1960's-era lodge at the Carinthia Base Area with a new 42,000 square foot lodge that is five times the size of the former lodge. The new, state-of-the-art lodge will include the amenities that today's skiers and riders expect from a high-end ski resort. These include a sit-down restaurant, two bars, a multi-station cafeteria, retail offerings, rental facilities, a private lesson desk and an outdoor seating deck complete with fireplace and bar. The $22 million project, which was started in the summer of 2017, is currently on track to open when Mount Snow opens in November.

    Erik Barnes, General Manager and President at Mount Snow, commented, "Mount Snow has seen a major transformation over the past several years, first with the upgrade to our snowmaking capabilities through West Lake and now with our new Carinthia Base Lodge. This new facility has been a long time coming and will be a substantial improvement over our old lodge. While the old lodge will no doubt be missed by some of our long-time guests, I'm looking forward to seeing the reactions from our passholders and guests when we open the doors this November."
  • Selfishly I like the Hunter expansion but instead of a new lodge I’d like to see some snow/lift improvements at the other 3 NE areas.
    ISNE-I Skied New England | NESAP-the New England Ski Area Project | SOSA-Saving Our Ski Areas - Location SW of Boston MA
  • edited August 15
    The Peak NH resorts had a lot effort when they were acquired, so emphasis on Vt. & New York for a while won't hurt.

    Wildcat got a total snowmaking overhaul (pumps, pipes and guns all new) that has resulted in longer seasons the last few years. Attitash has seen fewer snowmaking upgrades due to early and late season traffic being pushed to Wildcat, but it has had pipes replaced and other less visible things done.

    The decks were all replaced at Wildcat last year but they have been hesitant to touch the traditional base lodge (I can hear cries of sacrilege from the regulars). Their lifts seem adequate, maybe upgrade one of the triples with loader & faster line speed for those days when wind holds close the Express.

    Crotched was made 10% taller with the addition of the Rocket HSQ a few years ago. It usually has short lift lines & good parking on weekends as the weekday regulars go north to race & ski. Last years addition of the winch cat & this years addition of Tower SMI Polecats on Moonwalk plus rebuilds of many guns should make for improved trail conditions. Some work on a fuller groom on Midnight Madness nights would be appreciated as well.

    I would most like to see the summit triple at Attitash upgraded with a loader, faster line speed & resulting shorter run time. This wouldn't overload the traditional trails it serves but would reduce chilling on cold days and allow more runs.
  • Not flashy but Attitash is in the process of rebuilding every valve house on the mountain. There are a ton and it is a huge undertaking that started in spring and will go right to startup.

    Next year they plan on replacing a lot of the smaller diameter pipe that is overcapacity on core trails.

    A new summit high speed lift is not that far off, and that will go with fixing the Wildred's line to handle the extra traffic off summit.
  • Nice move on Attitash’s part!
  • NELSBEER said:

    Wildcat got a total snowmaking overhaul (pumps, pipes and guns all new) that has resulted in longer seasons the last few years. Attitash has seen fewer snowmaking upgrades due to early and late season traffic being pushed to Wildcat, but it has had pipes replaced and other less visible things done.

    I think you meant earlier not later for Wildcat? Wildcat has always gone late, no change there. They have gone considerably earlier though and have tied SR recently. Attitash got snowmaking upgrades before Wildcat but except for right after they installed new guns (2008ish??) they haven't gone for early (maybe since acquiring the Cat, where early makes more sense due to elevation).
  • Attitash has spent a pretty healthy amount on summer activities especially that zipline, but the lack of investment the past couple years while we in Vermont get the goods must be tough.

    On the Mt snow front I am wondering if the crowds will evacuate the older base area and head for Carinthia with the new parking, lodge, deck, bars, etc. It will certainly take off some of the load.
  • edited September 23
    Based on what I saw with my own eyes yesterday, either Bromley is replacing the haul rope on the Sun Double or have decided to quietly take it out of service.

    All of it's chairs were on the ground over by their beginner area magic carpet out past the Bromley Outing Club building and there currently is no haul rope on the the bottom terminal and any tower up to and slightly past the top of the Alpine Chair as far as I could see up towards the top terminal as we were riding the Alpine slides and Sun Mountain Flyer.

    Didn't appear to be any signs of spools of old or new haul rope that I could see (granted I didn't walk through their main mountain ops area) or the sizeable winch type equipment used to spool up an old haul rope and then string up a new haul rope either...
  • edited September 23
    I was there two weeks ago and was told the chairs were off to be painted. Haul rope was on. Not a chair they want to decommission as it is a good back up to HSQ when windy, and needed on peak holiday periods.
  • Not sure if this is worth a new thread but Morse Farm Ski Touring won't operate this coming winter due to unstable winters and the owners/partners getting old. Does anyone keep track of XC areas or are they too hard to track these days?
    "Making ski films is being irresponsible with other people's money, in a responsible sort of way..." 
    Greg Stump
  • Here's the status of things at Windham, according to their eblast today:

    Top terminal towers of the new six-pack were set today! Truckloads of parts continue to arrive and Doppelmayr is here, working 7 days a week until the lift build is completed. Meanwhile, our own crew has installed RFID gates at all base area lifts, a new pump in the snowmaking reservoir, and are preparing for the installation of nearly 100 new snowguns.

  • On Bromley's Instagram page today was a picture of the spool of new haul rope for the Sun Chair
  • > @TomWhite said:
    > West Mountain chairlift, snowmaking and other improvements. I couldn't copy n paste the article.
    > https://poststar.com/business/local/west-mountain-ski-area-continues-renovation-upgrade-efforts/article_7fc6c641-0040-559d-9155-06eb3179af0f.html

    That is a crazy level of investment, $17-million, for a small feeder hill like that. I really wonder if they could ever hope to make even half of that back. Maybe if the summer business takes off?
  • edited September 30
    That is an absurd amount of money but West is not a feeder hill (anymore). Perhaps if they were geographically in a different area but they're the only game in town. Proximity to 1 million people living in the Capital Region and all the money they've invested it's certainly more of a destination for many vs a stepping stone. There is even real estate there now.
  • They are only investing about 5 million this season as that is cash on hand. It says they will apply for grants and build condos in the future which will add up to 17 million. Is an 1010 vertical ski area considered a small feeder hill? I wish them success they have a prime spot right off 87, and under and hour from 2+ million metro region.
    ~Rich~
  • I'd certainly say it's a smaller feeder hill, I think the skier visit numbers would also show that. Especially looking at it compared to Hunter, Mount Snow, Stratton, Gore even.
  • West should never be compared to those mountains..... Hunter shouldn't even be in the conversion with Snow or Stratton. Gore is even iffy in that company. Mount Snow and Stratton are conglomerate resorts. Gore is state run and Hunter a 1500 foot parking lot. I would compare West to Bristol, Greek Peak, Catamount, Pats Peak etc.. Which are certainly mid sized mountain feeder hills. The problem with West is that it got in debt and lacked upgrades which contributes to people driving right past it on their way to The Adirondacks.
    ~Rich~
  • edited September 30
    > @Sully said:
    > I'd certainly say it's a smaller feeder hill, I think the skier visit numbers would also show that. Especially looking at it compared to Hunter, Mount Snow, Stratton, Gore even.

    Poor comparisons.
  • I wish West nothing but the best. It's where I rode my 1st chairlift in 1980 (the lift they finally took down this Summer and are replacing with their new quad this Summer) and also learned to race. Back in my highschool racing days in the late 80's, West's now principal owner, Spencer Montgomery, was one of the folks I raced against, and I logged LOTS of hours on those trails in the 80's and early 90's.

    Lots of potential in that mountain and it's location, and now it has owners with the vision and passion and access to capital to bring that potential out
  • > @newpylong said:
    > > @Sully said:
    > > I'd certainly say it's a smaller feeder hill, I think the skier visit numbers would also show that. Especially looking at it compared to Hunter, Mount Snow, Stratton, Gore even.
    >
    > Poor comparisons

    I'm thinking about the Capital Region's population. They can hit Mt Snow in an hour an 15 maybe a little less if they're starting near Troy say. Hunter is almost exactly an hour from Albany, Gore/Belleayre/Stratton are all 1hr30m from Albany. West is 58 minutes from downtown Albany... those all sound pretty close to me.
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