Vail Resorts, Inc. (NYSE: MTN) announced that the company plans to make an historic investment of CAD$66 million (USD$52 million) at Whistler Blackcomb this season focusing on three new lifts at the heart of the resort. This transformative investment features the addition of a new gondola on the Blackcomb side of the mountain, as well as several other lift infrastructure upgrades, providing quicker, easier access to all levels of terrain. The plan also represents the largest single-year capital investment program in the resort’s history, and the Company’s decision to accelerate the mountain improvements included in the Renaissance plan, while deferring consideration of the new water park.
A new 10-passenger gondola will replace the Wizard and Solar chairlifts and ascend from the base to the top of Blackcomb Mountain, terminating adjacent to the existing PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, which transports guests to and from Blackcomb and Whistler. Upon completion, the new gondola will offer guests a more comfortable and weather-protected experience in the first three-gondola connection in the world, enhancing the longest continuous lift system. The new gondola is expected to represent a 47-percent capacity increase and move 4,000 people per hour, the highest capacity in North America.
In addition to the new gondola, the capital plan also includes lift upgrades in Whistler Blackcomb’s Family Ski Zone, an upper-mountain area renowned for intermediate trails tailored to families. The Family Ski Zone’s Emerald Express four-passenger lift will be replaced with a new six-passenger high-speed lift, increasing guest uphill capacity by 29 percent and maximizing time on the snow for families on the mountain’s premier intermediate learning terrain.
Finally, the existing Catskinner triple-passenger lift will be replaced with a four-passenger, high-speed lift, which will increase uphill capacity by 56 percent and allow Whistler Blackcomb guests to enjoy faster, more convenient access to Blackcomb Mountain’s beginner and intermediate terrain.
“We are incredibly excited to bring to life the spirit of the Whistler Blackcomb Renaissance with a focus on the on-mountain experience that lies at the heart of our resort,” said Pete Sonntag, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Whistler Blackcomb. “Over the past few years, Whistler Blackcomb has seen tremendous enthusiasm from guests from around the world. This transformative investment, the largest in the resort’s history, will offer a dramatic improvement to the experience for all of our guests as they explore and enjoy the largest and most popular resort in North America. We intend to continue to pursue other base area and village improvements that were part of the Renaissance, but we believed it was critical to start at our core, on the mountain.”
This historic investment also includes the expansion of Whistler Blackcomb’s summer season offering and world-renowned mountain bike park. The mountain bike park is currently in the middle of a two-phase upgrade that will add 21 kilometers (13 miles) of biking trails in the summer of 2018, representing the single largest new terrain opening in the history of the park. With these new lifts and mountain bike park expansion, Whistler Blackcomb is well positioned as North America’s premier all-season resort. These capital projects are subject to regulatory approval.
Park City Mountain
Vail Resorts will make significant capital improvements at the largest ski resort in the United States, Park City Mountain in Park City, Utah, slated to debut for the 2018-19 winter season.
On the heels of an historic $50 million investment to connect Park City and the former Canyons resorts into the largest mountain resort in the U.S., coupled with massive upgrades to lift infrastructure and on-mountain dining in 2015, Vail Resorts plans to continue with Park City Mountain’s transformation by focusing significant investment to elevate the on-mountain dining and family skiing and snowboarding experience for guests. Park City Mountain remains committed to offering the premier family ski and snowboard experience and to being the definitive choice for signature on-mountain culinary excellence that complements the vibrant food scene in town.
“The continued investment at Park City Mountain just a few years after integrating Canyons and Park City demonstrates Vail Resorts’ commitment to continually reinvest in the core mountain experience for our guests,” said Bill Rock, chief operating officer of Park City Mountain. “These significant improvements in contemporary mountain dining and a dedicated family and beginner area will elevate the guest experience even further at the country’s largest mountain resort.”
New learning area for beginners, children and families
Slated to debut in the 2018-19 winter season, the High Meadow Family Fun Zone at Canyons Village will offer guests a dedicated learning area at the new High Meadow four-passenger lift. The existing High Meadow four-passenger lift will be replaced with a high-speed, four-passenger lift, increasing uphill capacity by 50 percent and shortening overall ride time by 70 percent. Additional snowmaking throughout the area’s gentle slopes will further ensure guests ideal snow surface conditions for learning. The Family Fun Zone will enhance the experience for beginner skiers and snowboarders by reserving the best learning terrain in Utah to provide a safe, fun and easy learning environment for ski and snowboard school guests, children and families. The addition of a new Candy Cabin within the Family Fun Zone will beckon guests to savor a sweet treat and chocolates during a rest break.