Vail Resorts is making a historic $66 million investment in some much-needed upgrades to the world-famous Whistler Blackcomb BC ski resort. The investment includes a new state of the art 10 person gondola along with two new high-speed chairs. Vail plans to add new accommodation, improve the mountain bike park and improve some of the runs at the resort. Some locals are unsure of their future in the village with all of the proposed upgrades.
Pete Sonntag says he’s aware of the grumbling. “We’ve never sold a resort,” he says. “We’re in for the long haul—and we need the people that are here to be engaged to help us create the future.”
The new 10 person gondola will run from the base to the top of the Blackcomb mountain bringing skiers to the base of the Peak-2-Peak gondola. It will replace the Wizard and Solar four-person chairs and is predicted to increase capacity by 47 percent. The Emerald Express Chairlift on Whistler Mountain will be upgraded to a high-speed six-person chairlift. Plans are in place o upgrade the three-person fixed grip Catskinner chairlift at the top of Blackcomb to a four-person, high-speed chairlift.
Marc Riddell stated that “It puts Whistler in a better position to capitalize on summer visits by opening up all areas of the alpine area to visitors by offering them a sheltered ride up and down the mountain”
In Summer, the mountain bike park will be expanded in a two-phase upgrade which will add 21 km of trails. Vail plans to improve various intermediate trails at the resort to make them more family friendly. A new apres ski spot will be opened at the newly renovated Roundhouse Lodge that will have a heated open deck bar and will spoil guests with stunning views of the valley.
All of these upgrades are set to increase international visitor numbers to the BC resort. To ensure there is enough housing to accommodate the influx of people Whistler Blackcomb will receive some new housing. This accommodation is expected to be completed in 2022 and includes 60 high-end ski-in-ski-out townhouses and a six-star luxury boutique hotel in Whistler’s Swiss inspired village.
The investment is no doubt the largest in the resort’s history to date, however with so many luxury accommodation options going in some locals question their future at the resort. Vail executives have forecast that the influx of visitors to Whistler Blackcomb will have a trickle on effect to other Western Canada resorts and increase revenue for them also. However, this prediction is just that, a prediction and only time will be able to answer that.
One thing is for sure though, these upgrades are set to decrease lift lines at North America’s number one ski resort and it will definitely give the resort some much-needed upgrades. Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz calls it “a transformational investment”. All work is expected to be completed by the 2018-2019 season. Though all plans are subject to regulatory approval.