With four major lift replacements completed over the last 15 years, North Idaho’s Schweitzer Mountain Resort is looking beyond its boundary for the next phase of on-mountain development. Completed just last summer, phase one of the resort’s 2018 master plan included two key lifts in the North Bowl replacing an outdated double. The mountain also recently completed a gorgeous summit lodge called Sky House and two more chairlifts above its village. Looking ahead, Schweitzer’s two longest lifts to date are planned for opposite ends of the resort.
Privately-held Schweitzer will proceed carefully as growth makes sense. The resort does not participate in a multi-resort pass product but skier visits have grown almost 35 percent over the last 15 years. Current development focuses on the village, including a $35 million boutique hotel under construction. “We have a pretty conservative approach,” notes President and CEO Tom Chasse. “Our business is growing but we want to make sure that we are financially sound and don’t get ahead of ourselves. We also want to maintain a razor sharp focus on improving the overall customer experience with everything that we do.”
Phase three will see the launch of a dedicated day use and ski school portal away from the overnight village. “Growth has been huge the last few years and we need to find solutions for our parking issues and ease the burden on our existing village,” notes Mountain Operations Director Rob Batchelder. “I’m very excited about solving those problems with this third phase of development in the Mid-Mountain area. Physically, we need room to grow and Mid-Mountain does that for us.” The $50 million project will include a day lodge, three dedicated beginner lifts and 6,400 foot detachable chairlift. The latter will include a half mid-station with access to six new intermediate trails. Riders staying on board will gain access to North Bowl without the need to transit the village or ride the busy Great Escape quad.
The last two pieces of the Schweitzer lift puzzle are replacements for Sunnyside and the Idyle Our T-Bar. Sunnyside is a rarely-spun Riblet double which will be realigned to service existing trails near the new base area. The T-Bar is the oldest part of a four lift system in North Bowl. A new 6,200 foot Little Blue lift will start near the bottom of the Cedar Park Express and service intermediate and advanced glades which are currently underutilized. “Our skiers and riders enjoy skiing the far northern boundary of the resort and a lift serving that location will make access so much easier,” explains Chasse.
Schweitzer has the advantage of owning 7,000 acres of land with no Forest Service or state property needed to expand. Although the current global economic picture is bleak, the resort will have great flexibility to implement projects at its own pace as the economy recovers. “The goal is to make Schweitzer a true destination ski resort with some national recognition,” says Tom Chasse. “We think this master plan will help us achieve our goal to provide the best skiing and snowboarding experience around.”