What’s New at Vermont Ski Areas for 2019/20? Resorts Spend $51-Million on Improvements

SnowBrains |
Jay Peak offers some of the best terrain in the New England area. Image: Jay Peak

Never content to rest on their laurels, Vermont ski areas are always seeking to improve the guest experience. Ski areas across the Green Mountain State invested more than $50M this offseason, bettering everything from facilities, terrain and ticket/pass options to off-slope activities and amenities.

Here are the many ways in which skiing and riding in Vermont will be better than ever this upcoming season:

Magic Mountain

Once again, Magic is making major investments in lifts and snowmaking with $2 million in improvements to ensure a laid-back, uncrowded, soulful ski experience unlike any other. In order to handle more customers yet keep its lift line wait to under 10 minutes even during the busy holiday periods, Magic is replacing its Black Double summit lift with a fixed-grip Quad from base-to-summit to complement its Red Lift. The new Black Line Quad is expected to be completed by Christmas for the 2019/20 season. In addition, Magic is repairing snowmaking pipe and re-energizing its Thompsonburg Brook pond to better re-fill and supply water to its snowmaking pond in order to expand snowmaking coverage to over 50% of its trails on both the East Side and famed expert West Side. With the addition of the new summit lift, Magic adds another double-diamond expert summit trail named Pitch Black. There is also a new East Side glade created by our “Friends-of-Magic” work-crew this year. There’s more Magic than ever to enjoy for the new ski and ride season.

Jay Peak Resort

For Sale: Quirky 800-bedroom, 3,100-bathroom, 217,800,000,000-square foot resort just two miles from the Canadian border offering multiple athletic pursuits across all seasons. Potential upsides include an indoor waterpark, ice arena, climbing center, movie theater, poutine, synthetic-turf athletic fields, multiple hotels, 5,000 acres of ski-and-ride terrain, and a staff of 1,500 Tier One professionals. Potential downside: enough annual snowfall to bury said hotels for days. Interested applicants would be wise to also invest in a powder snorkel.

Mount Snow Resort

Mount Snow is now Epic! New for the 2019/2020 season, Mount Snow joins the world-class destinations of Stowe & Okemo on the Epic Pass, as part of Vail Resorts’ offerings in Vermont.

Snowmaking improvements continue to be a priority at Mount Snow, as this winter will see many changes to the Sunbrook Face as well as Carinthia Parks. On the Sunbrook side, the resort has added 7.2 acres of snowmaking as Little Dipper will now be connected to the Northeast’s most powerful snowmaking system. This change will allow Mount Snow to open this trail earlier in the season and keep it consistently covered throughout the winter. Sunbrook is a beloved part of the mountain and guests will be able to better take advantage of this area. In Carinthia, the resort will add snowmaking to Fool’s Gold, which would increase snowmaking coverage by an additional 9.8 acres and allow its ops crew to transform it into a park with small features. Beginner and intermediate park enthusiasts will be pleased to have a place for building skills before they move onto larger features.

These projects wouldn’t be possible without the previous upgrades of the past three summers including the addition of West Lake, Mount Snow’s 120-million-gallon snowmaking reservoir, as well as new pumphouses and pipes, totaling more than $30 million invested in snowmaking. As the resort moves from 80% to 83% snowmaking coverage for this winter, Mount Snow has its sights set on 100% coverage which could be accomplished in the near future.

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Sugarbush. Credit: Ikon Pass

Sugarbush Resort

Sometimes it’s the little things that add up to a whole lot of change. Sugarbush has invested in a number of smaller projects this summer to improve the guest experience heading into the ski season. The Lincoln Peak Courtyard has been completely rebuilt with cobblestones, new firepits, gardens, and bar tops. Two new EV charging stations are getting installed at Mt. Ellen for the electric car user looking to shred Vermont’s third-highest peak. Additionally, there’s now snowmaking on a more opened-up Sleeper Road, and plenty of new infrastructure upgrades around the lodges and lifts.

Smugglers’ Notch Resort

After a record-breaking 2018-19 season, Snow Sport University professionals at Smugglers’ Notch are excited to work with skiers and riders of all walks to instill the knowledge necessary to truly maximize the on-snow experience. In addition to their award-winning programs for all ages, Snow Sport University now offers a lesson product that not only offers pointers on improving technique but snow sense too … the kind of skills typically learned through years of experience. The Pro Private Equipped is designed to integrate your pace of skill-building to the terrain challenges of the mountain. Furthermore, demo equipment is hand-selected for the terrain and conditions of the day, under the mindful direction of professional guides. Not only are skills taught, but also knowledge of equipment, reading terrain, and seeking the best conditions the mountain has to offer, which can sometimes change by the hour!

Bromley Mountain

Each year, Bromley strives to provide its guests with the best experience imaginable. This year, the resort has made a number of maintenance-related updates on and off the mountain. For those who rent equipment, there is an updated rental fleet to include some of the best equipment on the market for a more comfortable fit and smoother glide. On the mountain, our crew continued their trail widening efforts with the intent to regain our original trail widths. In the Parks, we’ve invested in more all-new park features for a variety of rider abilities, green to black. Plus, we’re partnering up with Arena Snowparks to build and design our parks (for the second year in a row) with the intention to produce one of the best family-friendly progression parks. Get ready for another unforgettable season.

Suicide Six Ski Area

Suicide Six is proud to declare its continued independence by partnering with 35 other quintessential resorts to bring you the Indy Pass! For 84 consecutive seasons, Suicide Six has offered its unique blend of exquisite service and personal touch, including the longest continually operating Ski and Ride School in the country. Here you’ll find stellar coaches, progressive terrain, and a warmth and care than can’t be equaled elsewhere. The ski area is adding more terrain features and an entirely new park concept, as well as taking its snowmaking production to the next level with a focus on automation, efficiency, and sustainability. Suicide Six is investing $250k into its snowmaking pump station with more efficient pumps, automation, and instrumentation that provide lightning-fast responses to changes in weather and conditions. Combine that with previous investments of over $400k the ski area has made in new snow guns, and the automation of the Face trail (its world-class racing venue), Suicide Six looks forward to a longer, more productive season with the highest quality snow.

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I like big bumps and I cannot lie. Credit: Killington Facebook

Killington Resort

Following the single largest investment in on-mountain improvements that took place for winter 2018/19, Killington Resort is excited to announce even more improvements for the future. The new experiences and improvements include replacing the K-1 Base Lodge with one 50-percent bigger, a new North Ridge Quad Chairlift to replace the old triple, new low-energy tower guns and new semi-automatic hydrants, which will all significantly enriched the guest experience and make the resort more accessible to all.

Bolton Valley Resort

There’s a lot of cool new stuff happening at Bolton Valley Resort this winter!  The most visible of which is the complete replacement of all the existing night-skiing lights and upgrade to the night lighting system broadly!  One hundred and fifty high-efficiency LED lights will be replacing the dated – but effective and trustworthy – halogen lights that have lit Bolton’s slopes for several years now. The resort will also be re-positioning and adding lights to spots that could use better lighting, most notably the slalom racecourse. The Bolton Valley indoor skate and bike park is also fully operational and finished for the start of this season. Though much of it was open for skating and biking last year, it’s been entirely re-surfaced and now features all-new coping and railings. Additionally, the base lodge is undergoing renovations in advance of the winter season to key areas including the main hallways, stairways and Fireside Flatbread dining area upstairs to better accommodate the large volume of people it sees on a daily basis throughout the winter.

Middlebury Snow Bowl

This season at Middlebury Snow Bowl will feature a new Prinoth Groomer, upgrades to the ticket counter including new transaction windows ad a new Point of Sale System, and a new season pass format.  There is also the new Shared Parent Pass for families with kids that aren’t skiing yet (both parents ski on the same pass).  What you won’t see, but will certainly experience, is the snowmaking pipe upgrades, summer trail work and lift work. It’s been a great and busy summer at the Bowl!

Stratton Mountain Resort

Last January’s Snow Bowl Express launch was a gamechanger for Stratton Mountain Resort, creating quick access to a blend of terrain from the legendary World Cup and tree-lined Drifter to a three-mile beginner run from the summit of southern Vermont’s highest peak.  The new skier and rider is a focus this season with 12,500 feet of new snowmaking pipe, featuring the latest hydrant technology, for the learning zone. Plus, a one-acre parallel teaching area has been crafted to eliminate the fear factor as beginners build a foundation with basic skills, including stance and balance, before heading up the 550-foot covered carpet. Kids snowboarding has never been easier with the addition of a new Burton Riglet Park for 2019-20.

Pico Mountain

Pico Mountain is undergoing major upgrades to its snowmaking system, which means guests will experience a better, more consistent and more reliable snow surface when the project is complete. The $2.1 million investment is the largest since Killington took ownership of Pico more than 20 years ago.

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Welcome to Pow Town, Stowe, VT. Credit: Stowe

Stowe Mountain Resort

New this winter atop the Mansfield Gondola at Stowe Mountain Resort is a resort-inspired Maple Waffle Café. Located inside the Gondola summit shelter, the new waffle experience is the perfect place to warm-up with a delicious Vermont flavored snack. The new Whistle Pig Pavilion adjacent to the outdoor ice skating rink at Spruce Peak delights skiers in the late afternoon with gourmet tasters and whiskey toasts by the famous Vermont spirits bottler. Stop in for a surprise and stay to sample their farm-to-table small bites menu and the local beer and whiskey bar.

Okemo Mountain Resort

Okemo Mountain Resort’s Summit Lodge and mid-mountain Sugar House Lodge received interior makeovers over the summer. On the slopes, Okemo has secured its reputation for consistent and reliable snow quality and surface conditions through more upgrades to its snowmaking system. Installation of 5,000 feet of pipe completed a five-year project to replace main feeds to Okemo’s snowmaking system across the entire mountain. And this winter, skiers, and riders will be able to experience the entire mountain in a new way with EpicMix, a free app that provides access to a variety of features from their mobile phones. They can check snow conditions and lift-wait times, view webcams and trail maps, track vert, earn digital pins, and even track Ski & Snowboard School progress and accomplishments. Season pass introductions this winter include a new Northeast College Pass that offers unlimited, unrestricted access to Okemo and Mount Sunapee, in New Hampshire, as well as unlimited access with holiday restrictions to Stowe. Also, Vail Resorts has launched Epic Day Pass, allowing guests to ski world-class resorts for less than lift-ticket-window prices. The Epic Day Pass is perfect for those skiers and riders who may not need the unlimited skiing offered by traditional season passes. They can purchase from one to seven days valid all winter. For guests looking to ski more days in a season, the Epic Pass and Epic Local Pass continue to offer the best value and variety for unlimited skiing and riding. Visit Okemo’s online NewsRoom for more information.

Mad River Glen

Mad River Glen takes pride in consistently upgrading its infrastructure while maintaining an unchanged exterior. Summer projects include drainage and culvert work along with replacing nearly 100% of its snowmaking pipe and electrical systems. The ability of Mad River Glen to consistently reinvest in the mountain’s infrastructure is a testament to the success of the Cooperative. Both the skier-owners and the management understand that skiers come to Mad River for the unique combination of legendary terrain, sense of community, low skier density and intimate atmosphere. In more than 20 years of co-op ownership, Mad River Glen has invested more than $5M in capital improvements. Next summer plans include a Basebox and Patrol building renovation, fundraising was completed this year and MRG plans to break ground in April 2020.

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