Alterra Mountain Co., the new operator of eleven leading North American mountain resorts, today announced a transformational capital investment of $130 million to be followed by hundreds of millions more over the next five years. New lifts will debut at Winter Park Resort in Colorado, Mont Tremblant in Quebec and Stratton Mountain Resort in Vermont in time for next winter. Competitor Vail Resorts revealed a similar $150 million plan for 2018-19 with six new lifts across its resorts last December.
The largest single project for Alterra is a 10-passenger Zephyr Gondola at Winter Park replacing the current 1990 high-speed quad, the key people mover out of The Village at Winter Park. The new $16 million Leitner-Poma lift will be capable of moving 3,600 guests per hour to Sunspot, up from 2,600, and is the first new lift at the resort since 2007. It will feature Leitner-Poma’s DirectDrive technology, reducing energy consumption and the number of moving parts that can lead to down time. The new lift may also get a new name. “Zephyr is certainly on the table but nothing’s been decided yet,” said Steve Hurlbert, a spokesman for the resort.
At Stratton, a new Doppelmayr high-speed detachable quad will replace Snow Bowl, a 1986 Poma fixed-grip quad. This project has been sorely needed for years and word of it leaked with an Act 250 permit filed late last week. “A new Snow Bowl lift topped our priority list,” said Stratton President and COO Bill Nupp. “Guests were clear on that. This high-speed chairlift will enhance flow, access and reliability. We expect to dismantle the 31-year-old fixed-grip quad it replaces and fly out the towers as soon as the season wraps up, with the new lift ready for the 2018-19 season pending final permit approval.” The new lift will have 98 chairs and reduce ride time from 14 minutes to five. A parking rail at the bottom terminal will allow for faster deicing times and shorter towers will increase wind resistance. Interestingly, construction will pause from May 15th to August 1st so as to not disturb Bicknell’s Thrush habitat during that species’ nesting period.
At Canadian favorite Tremblant, a second Doppelmayr high-speed quad will replace the Lowell Thomas lift, a 1980 Doppelmayr triple, increasing capacity by 33 percent. “Today we are extremely proud to announce this major investment at Station Mont Tremblant with industry forerunner Alterra Mountain Company lending us the power and the expertise to do so,” noted Patrice Malo, Tremblant’s President and Chief Operating Officer. “Over 17 million dollars will be invested this year.”
U.S. and Canadian ski resorts have announced more than $90 million worth of new lifts so far in March. Perhaps the biggest news today is Alterra has budgeted $555 million for capital improvements at its resorts over the next five years. “At our core, we are a ski company and we offer year-round mountain experiences to skiers, riders and summer visitors of all ages from all over the world,” said Rusty Gregory, Chief Executive Officer at Alterra. “Each aspect of our business plays a part in the guest experience that brings them back year after year, from a welcoming base area to an efficient ski school to exceptional services. It is our commitment to invest in each of our destinations in order to grow the sport, offer a variety of activities, inspire loyal guests and instill a love of the mountains in all that visit. We do that through thoughtful and innovative capital investment that improves a guest’s experience, while we continue to support and preserve the character and traditions of each destination.” Further projects will be announced this fall and half a billion dollars could buy a whole lot more lifts.