Biggest Ski Resort Expansion In 15 Years Hits East Coast
Like many skiers who grew up in New York City, I spent some formative years on the slopes at Hunter Mountain. While not as big as the Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine resorts that dominate eastern skiing, Hunter has the golden rule of real estate going for it: location, location and location. At under two and a half hours from midtown (without traffic: the Daily News got there in 2:22), it’s less than half the time behind the wheel of the Vermont resorts, the next closest, and is appreciably bigger than any of the other mountains closer to the city. The News calls it, “The granddaddy of all the nearby ski-areas.”
But it is about the get even bigger. The $9 million Hunter North project is underway and will open for the coming season, and the mountain’s owner, Peak Resorts, claims it is the largest ski area expansion in the East in the past 15 years. Hunter North will add five all new trails, but perhaps more importantly, four large gladed areas in between them. Overall this increases skiable area by 25%, but it increases glade skiing at Hunter by a whopping 800%. All five new trails have snowmaking, as do 100% of the existing 58.
The new trails will be serviced in three and a half minutes by a new high speed 6-pack chair, and while Hunter has always been known for being good at moving people around the mountain, this will make it the only mountain in New York State (which has a surprisingly large number of ski resorts and twice hosted the Winter Olympic Games, once more than Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine combined) with two 6-packs. To better access the new lift and area, Hunter North is also getting its own all new entrance, parking lots and satellite base lodge.
Compared to industry giants Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Company, Peak Resorts is a small player, but they are big in the Northeast, where half of the company’s 14 resorts are located. The best known of these is Mount Snow, one of Vermont’s major destination ski resorts, and like Hunter, known for being the closest and most accessible in the Green Mountain State to the New York metro area, over a full hour closer than most competitors. Peak Resorts is spending another $22 million on its new flagship Carinthia Base Lodge at Mount Snow, where it anchors the East’s top terrain park. Built 10-years ago, the Carinthia park area was and still is pretty revolutionary in the world of skiing and snowboarding, with nine terrain parks including a super pipe spread across its own 100-acre mountain face. The new 42,000-square foot lodge is five-times the size of the one it is replacing - just the heated deck is bigger than the entire old lodge. It features a new coffee bar, two real bars, a large modern multi-station cafeteria, a sit-down restaurant, retail, rental shop, and ski patrol office. This comes on the heels of last season’s $30 million snow making upgrade, giving Mt. Snow some of the most reliable conditions in the east.
Like it’s bigger competitors, Peak Resorts has created its own multi-mountain season pass product,the Peak Pass (read all about this great trend in the ski industry here). It offers unlimited skiing and riding at seven northeastern mountains in Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire and Vermont, the biggest of which are Mt. Snow, Hunter and Attitash and Wildcat in NH. There are several iterations of the pass, but notably their Drifter model redefines the notion of a youth pass by offering a substantial discount on the all access, no blackout option for everyone under 30 at $399. Those 30 and over fork over $829 (reduced to $599 until 10/19/18) but get some additional benefits like lodging discounts and free skiing at the company’s Midwestern resorts. By comparison, in the Northeast, Vail Resorts’ national industry leading Epic Pass includes Stowe and Okemo in Vermont and Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire, while Alterra’s Ikon Pass includes Maine’s two biggies, Sunday River and Sugarloaf; Vermont’s Sugarbush, Stratton and Killington, New Hampshire’s Loon and Quebec’s Tremblant.
Written by: Larry Olmsted
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