This season at Vail Resorts is truly epic - not only has the resort company continued to expand to its holdings in North America, with the long-term lease of Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah (its first resort in that state), and Kirkwood, in the Lake Tahoe area (in 2012), but this year, it opens a whole additional peak at Breckenridge, bringing the total number of resorts in North America to 10. The resort company is also continuing its expansion internationally, with new partnerships with two of the most famous ski regions in the world, Les 3 Vallées, France and Arlberg, Austria, as well as a continued partnership with Verbier Switzerland.
This gives Epic Pass holders not only unlimited, unrestricted access to 10 ski resorts in Colorado, Tahoe and Utah, the Epic Pass but now includes five free days at both Les 3 Vallées, France and Verbier, Switzerland plus five free consecutive days at Arlberg, Austria.
Les 3 Vallées is home to the legendary mountain resorts of Courchevel, La Tania, Méribel, Brides-les-Bains, Les Menuires, Saint Martin de Belleville, Val Thorens and Orelle, France. Boasting 8 different resorts, 600 kilometers of interconnected trails, 180 ski lifts, and approximately five meters (16.6 feet) of annual snowfall, Les 3 Vallées is the largest interconnected ski area in the world, including the highest resort in Europe, Val Thorens.
Set in the heart of the French Alps, Les 3 Vallées is revered for its elegant charm and baroque art and architecture. It boasts nine ski-in/ski-out Michelin-star restaurants and exceptional ski-in/ski-out lodging, all while maintaining its alpine character and family friendly appeal. Often voted the best location in Europe for early season snow, Les 3 Vallées has been a long-standing favorite for skiers and riders seeking a truly world-class European experience. Les 3 Vallées ski area is open from Dec. 7, 2013 – Apr. 25, 2014.
“Epic Season Pass holders already enjoy an incredible experience with unlimited, unrestricted access to Vail Resorts’ eight world-class resorts, including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Canyons, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood as well as Arapahoe Basin and Eldora, but the addition of 15 complimentary days of world-class skiing across France, Austria and Switzerland makes the Epic Pass the most compelling lift ticket offering available for skiers and riders, irrespective of where they live around the globe.”
Altogether, Epic Pass holders can ski and ride across 26 mountains and four countries on one pass that pays for itself in just over five days of skiing and riding. This makes Epic Pass, at $689, arguably the best value lift product around (www.EpicPass.com).
Epic Race: Skiers are tremendously competitive and Vail Resorts is challenging all globetrotting, Epic Pass-holding, die-hard skiers and snowboarders to The Epic Race – a 2013-2014 season-long competition to visit all 26 resorts spread across four countries that make up the Epic Pass. The first 10 people to complete the race will receive an Epic Pass for life (more information at www.EpicPass.com).
And because Les 3 Vallées season pass holders have the same unrestricted five free days of skiing and riding at Vail Resorts, that means that the resorts will enjoy a more cosmopolitan feel to the Rocky Mountain, Western vibe - truly a world-class experience.
Another reason for the growing international appeal of Vail Resorts is the first nonstop international carrier service into Vail Valley's Eagle County Airport - the closest airport to Vail and Beaver Creek - Air Canada's Flight 1051 from Toronto Airport (YYZ), Canada.
The Saturday service runs weekly through April 5, 2014 and is the second nonstop western ski gateway from Toronto, behind Denver. The new flight makes it even easier for those traveling from Toronto and Eastern Canada to ski and snowboard Vail and Beaver Creek.
“What's particularly exciting about this flight is that existing agreements allow Canadian visitors to clear customs in Canada at the Toronto Pearson International Airport before they depart and after they arrive home," said Greg Phillips, director of aviation for Eagle County Airport.
The inbound flight schedule from Toronto departs at 9:50 a.m., arriving at Eagle County Airport at 11:45 a.m., allowing for same-day skiing and riding at Vail or Beaver Creek. Outbound flights from Eagle County Airport depart at 12:30 p.m., arriving in Toronto at 5:43 p.m., aligned with hotel check-out times or the option to enjoy some perfectly manicured corduroy or fresh powder tracks before the flight home. The 120-seat Airbus A319 features complimentary seatback entertainment throughout the aircraft (www.aircanada.com).
Daily connections are available with Star Alliance partner United Airlines for service from Eagle County Airport to Denver, connecting to Air Canada from Denver to Toronto. Air Canada also offers convenient connections to other major Canadian cities, including Montreal, Ottawa and Halifax.
Eagle County Airport is conveniently located approximately 25 miles from Beaver Creek and 35 miles from Vail, with seamless, door-to-door transfers to accommodations in Vail or Beaver Creek with Colorado Mountain Express, offering shared shuttle and private chauffeured SUV options.
Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah, is Now Epic!
Vail Resorts is now operating Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah, under a long-term lease with affiliate companies of Talisker Corporation. Vail Resorts has assumed all of the resort operations of Canyons marking Vail Resorts’ first mountain resort acquisition in Utah. This means that Canyons is now included on the Epic Pass as well as the Epic Local Pass and Epic 7-Day Pass, so skiers and riders have the best value and greatest flexibility in Utah. Canyons has recently invested $75 million in improvements including the only enclosed, heated chairlift in North America and award-winning on-snow après ski amenities.
Vail Resorts Announces Record Capital Plan for Calendar 2013
Vail Resorts spent a record $130 million to $140 million in resort capital expenditures in calendar year 2013, including a new high-speed six-person lift in Vail; significant terrain expansion in Breckenridge, a new on-mountain restaurant at Beaver Creek and the fourth generation of EpicMix – Epic Academy – as well as $25 million in spending for the first phase of its new summer operations and nearly $10 million in upgrades for each of the recently acquired Afton Alps and Mt. Brighton resorts.
Breckenridge Opens Peak 6
This season, Breckenridge will have one of its most exciting year’s ever, as the resort adds over 540 acres to its famous landscape via the Peak 6 area just north of Peak 7. Peak 6 will include 400 acres of lift-served terrain and 143 acres of hike-to terrain, representing a 23 percent increase in the resort’s skiable acreage. This is one of the most notable ski area expansions in the past decade, and will feature high-alpine, intermediate bowl skiing – a rare find in North America. The projected opening day for the Peak 6 lifts and terrain will be announced early during the winter season as construction comes to a close and the snow begins to fall. Visit www.breckenridge.com for the latest on the Peak 6 project.
With Peak 6, Breckenridge has five huge peaks, 2,901 acres, four terrain parks, a 22 ft Superpipe, 11 bowls, the highest chairlift in North America, family-friendly terrain and a world-class ski school, all situated above an authentic, hip mountain town with awe-inspiring views. Renowned for the welcoming spirit and friendly character of their locals, with over 200 restaurants, bars, and shops, and numerous year-round activities and events, there are many good reasons why “Breck” is one of the most popular ski resorts in the Western Hemisphere.
Peak 6, located within Breckenridge Resort’s special use permit boundary, is the first ski terrain expansion on National Forest System land in Colorado since 2008 and the first at Breckenridge since the Peak 7 expansion in 2002 (breckenridge.com).
New High-speed, Six-Pack Lift at Vail Mountain
This winter Vail's Mountain Top Express Lift (#4), one of the most recognized and highly utilized chairlifts in North America, providing access to Vail’s legendary Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin, has been replaced with a new six-passenger chairlift. The new lift will increase capacity by 33 percent, dramatically reducing lift lines and building upon the success of the newly built state-of-the-art Gondola One. The Gopher Hill Lift (#12) in Golden Peak is also upgraded this season from a double to a triple chair, better serving beginners and Vail’s youngest ski school guests. Vail is also continuing to host world-class athletes this winter during the U.S. Ski Team early-season training sessions in Golden Peak, the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships March 5-8, 2014, and the future 2015 FIS World Alpine Ski Championships (Vail.com).
New Restaurant at Beaver Creek
Beaver Creek is opening a new on-mountain restaurant, Talons, situated at the confluence of Larkspur Bowl, Grouse Mountain and Birds of Prey, replacing Red Tail Camp. The name Talons reflects the theme on this part of the mountain, home to many birds of prey. Talons is 17,000 square feet with 500 indoor seats on two levels and 250 outdoor seats, more than doubling the previous capacity. The European-inspired menu features gourmet dining options such as the Talons Kasseler Rippchen Casserole (shaved smoked pork loin, sauerkraut, home fries, baked apples) and Colorado Lamb Burger as well as tossed to order salads, homemade soups, carved meats, rustic thin pizzas and artisan breads served in an upscale cafeteria setting. There is an indoor/ outdoor bar and an outdoor smokehouse. The architecture pays homage to the early era of Beaver Creek with a nostalgic barn exterior and post and beam construction. Originally constructed in 1997, the new building is situated lower down the hill, offering easier access for skiers and riders in the area.
New Escalators at Beaver Creek Village
Beaver Creek Village, known for its premium level of guest service, is making access to the slopes even easier this season with the addition of a new escalator located in the heart of the village above the ice rink. A series of escalators already serves skiers and riders in the main artery of the village; the new escalator is located between the ice rink and the snow surface adjacent to the Children’s Ski & Snowboard School and near the Buckaroo Gondola (BeaverCreek.com).
Keystone Resort's New Kids Ski Free Deal
From specialty family-friendly après ski offerings to mountaintop snow forts and snow tubing, Keystone Resort is a winter wonderland that allows kids and parents alike to truly enjoy their vacation time together. This season, Keystone continues its dedication to providing great value for families of all sizes with one of the simplest Kids Ski Free offers anywhere. Every day, all season, children 12 and under ski or snowboard for free at Keystone. There are no blackout dates and it is available every weekend and holiday (a rarity in the ski industry). To qualify, children must stay two or more nights in one of Keystone’s numerous accommodation options, which span from luxury hotel rooms to cozy ski-in/ski-out condominiums. www.keystoneresort.com/kidsskifree.
Keystone Introduces First of its Kind Family Ski Trail
New this season, Keystone introduces the Family Ski Trail, another innovative way for families to enjoy the mountain experience together. The Schoolyard, a first of its kind terrain addition, is designed to engage skiers and riders of all ages, while promoting on-snow progression with specialty features. Whether it’s gliding over Rockin’ Rollers, navigating bumps for the first time with Magic Moguls or learning to maneuver over changing terrain in Tornado Ally, the Schoolyard will be an area for the whole family to take their skiing and riding to the next level. Additional on-snow programming, including ski with Riperoo, will take place throughout the week in this specialty area www.keystoneresort.com.
Worth noting that Keystone is one of only two Colorado ski resorts with nightskiing, plus about every amenity and activity you could want (fabulous spa, restaurants, tubing, to list just a few) www.keystoneresort.com
Unbuckle at Tamarack, Lake Tahoe's Highest Elevation Apres-Ski Party
For those looking to elevate their game off the trails, there is Unbuckle at Tamarack, rated as the No. 1 après ski party in North America by Forbes and confirmed by CNN Travel. Unbuckle is Lake Tahoe's highest elevation après ski party featuring music, drinking, dancing and the lovely Heavenly Angels - ripping skiers by day and go-go dancers when the sun dips below the Sierras. The party takes place daily from 3:30-5:30 p.m. with a live DJ, half-priced drinks, giveaways, food specials, lots of dancing and, exclusively on Fridays and Saturdays, the Heavenly Angels.
Redefining the lodging experience at South Lake Tahoe
South Lake Tahoe has a number of significant property developments that will provide more options to skiers and snowboarders visiting Heavenly Mountain Resort (SkiHeavenly.com). At the lake shore, a multi-million dollar renovation is transforming a piece of old Tahoe, the Royal Valhalla Lodge, into a high-end boutique hotel, Landing Resort & Spa. Landing Resort will offer 77 upscale rooms, a restaurant which features wood-fired Greek seafood and outdoor fire pits, a full spa and fitness center, as well as a rooftop wedding site overlooking Lake Tahoe. Also, the Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel, formerly Embassy Suites Lake Tahoe – Hotel & Ski Resort, has become an independent hotel, and along with the name change, the hotel’s owners are investing more than $5 million in property and guest suite improvements. The resort’s location has four doors opening toward each of Tahoe’s amenities – beach, ski resorts, forest, and entertainment – and is the largest and only full-service hotel in South Lake Tahoe.
Northstar: Shaun White’s Home Mountain and Primary Training Resort
As the 2014 Winter Games approach, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Shaun White will continue to pioneer new tricks and fine tune his riding at Northstar, his home mountain and primary training resort. Resort guests can also enjoy the return of Northstar’s award-winning terrain parks and signature 22-foot superpipe, designed by Shaun himself. The leader of California laid-back luxury, Northstar delivers focused, progressive learning programs for anyone looking to advance their skills or just looking to get into the terrain parks for the first time (NorthstarCalifornia.com).
Kirkwood Mountain Resort, known for big mountain skiing, powder and more advanced runs, is continuing its signature Expedition:Kirkwood Cat Tours for the 2013-2014 winter season. Expedition:Kirkwood, rated as Men’s Journal’s top black-diamond ski school program, takes advanced skiers and riders on an adventure to hunt down steep faces and fresh turns with a focus on backcountry education and safety. The West Coast’s largest avalanche awareness and backcountry certification program, Expedition:Kirkwood allows for a unique resort experience for advanced skiers and riders, just steps outside the classroom.
Freeride World Tour: Kirkwood is hosting the only USA stop for the new Swatch Freeride World Tour by The North Face, which combines the Freeride World Tour, the Freeskiing World Tour and The North Face Masters of Snowboarding to create one unified global championship series. The six-stop world tour will hit Kirkwood for the second consecutive season in spring 2014.
EpicMix Academy is the fourth generation of the groundbreaking and award-winning EpicMix application, following the introductions of EpicMix Photo and EpicMix Racing. With EpicMix Academy, the Company's ski school instructors are able to certify the attainment of certain skills and ski levels for any of the students in their classes. Children and adults in both group and private ski lessons are able to earn permanent recognition and review their accomplishments online. Parents can track the progress of their kids and the Company's ski schools can immediately know the ability level of every student before the start of each lesson. EpicMix Academy offers special certified digital pins, which can be easily shared through Facebook and Twitter along with pins for vertical feet, photos and racing medals.
Epic Discovery – Taking the Summer Mountain Experience to New Heights
As of July 2013, Vail Resorts has announced multiple proposals to the U.S. Forest Service for a comprehensive summer activities plan at Vail Mountain, Breckenridge Ski Resort and Heavenly Mountain Resort. Vail Resorts’ summer activity effort, named Epic Discovery, a Summer Mountain Adventure, would encourage “learn through play” by featuring extensive environmental educational elements interspersed between numerous new fun activities located in already developed areas of the mountain. Vail Resorts is working with The Nature Conservancy to bring scientific content to the eco-discovery experiences and will be contributing 1 percent of all summer lift ticket and activity revenue toward forest restoration projects. Epic Discovery is designed to connect kids and families with our national forests in an active, fun and engaging way. The proposal includes a number of new activities, including zip lines, ropes courses, mountain excursions and Forest Flyers™ with extensive environmental and interpretive programming, offering guests a unique opportunity to try new outdoor activities, challenge themselves physically, discover an appreciation for nature and create lasting family memories.
Vail Resorts, Inc.'s subsidiaries operate the mountain resorts of Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada; Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan; and the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. RockResorts (rockresorts.com), a luxury resort hotel company, manages casually elegant properties. Vail Resorts Development Company is the real estate planning, development and construction subsidiary of Vail Resorts, Inc.
For lodging, trip planning, mountain info, vacation deals, snow conditions and web-cams, links to the individual resorts, visit www.snow.com or call 800-842-8062.
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