Resort revamping on-mountain experiences with new investments
WINTER PARK — Winter Park Resort is taking a cue from other ski resorts around the state and investing in more summer activities so guests can enjoy on-mountain experiences year-round.
Last week, Alterra announced $16 million in capital improvements at the resort, including over $1 million for summer activities, which the resort hopes is just the beginning of summer investments.
“The money that’s being earmarked for summer is really sort of the first in what we’re hoping is a series of plans to revitalize summer offerings here,” said Steve Hurlbert, director of public relations and communication for the resort.
The new summer activity options will include ropes courses for adults and kids, climbing walls and new hiking trails, as well as continuing to improve and add to the resort’s Trestle Bike Park.
Alterra is also investing in summer activities at its other resorts, including Steamboat Ski Resort, spending a total of $6.3 million across its properties. Plus, last year, Aspen Skiing Co. opened its $10 million summer adventure playground and announced a commitment to building summer activities.
Hurlbert said the resort wanted to update the base area activities with options that people would actually enjoy and that take advantage of the unique landscape available.
“Some of the base area activities that we had in particular were a bit stale and really, were kind of things that were more like carnival attractions rather than attractions and activities that you would find at a mountain,” he said.
Thanks to Winter Park’s new gondola, the resort has the ability to expand activities at the peak as well. Hurlbert said there are a lot of opportunities for hiking trails in the area for varying ability levels.
“The idea is to provide some options at the top of the mountain where you can ride the gondola up and you’ve got a couple of different trail options,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of room up there to work with, so I think there’s a lot of opportunity for multiple different ability level of hikes.”
However, plenty of upgrades are planned for winter activities as well. Mary Jane’s Sunnyside lift is being upgraded to a high-speed six-person Leitner-Poma lift that will significantly cut down on lines, Hurlbert said.
The new lift is expected to cut the lift ride time from the base of Mary Jane to the peak by more than half, so the total ride is less than four minutes. The upgrade will also double the capacity of the lift, which currently carries three people to a seat.
“It’s one of older lifts over on that side and it’s in such a popular zone,” Hurlbert explained. “It’s taking a place that’s a pinch point, where lines get long, and freeing it up.”
The remainder of the capital investment funds will go to resort maintenance, such as improving slope maintenance, lift service improvements and dining options.
While last year Winter Park Resort received the highest amount of money from Alterra for improvements, this year’s dollar amount shows the continued support of the resort’s parent company, Hurlbert said.
“They want to continue to improve the on-mountain experience and what’s cool for us is, rather than some sort of exclusive hotel or a super ritzy restaurant, at Winter Park they get our culture here and they’re investing in things that everybody can enjoy on the mountain, which is really exciting for us,” Hurlbert said.
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