The past couple of ski seasons have been very profitable for all of the ski areas in the Southeast. Last season was certainly one of the most successful seasons in terms of numbers of skiers, weather, revenue…you name it…and with weather forecasters promising another banner winter, all of the ski resorts were busy doing what they could do to gain a larger share of your business. Let’s be honest, as much as all of the management teams put on a nice face when talking about being friends with xyz resort, they are STILL business competitors. The first rule of business is to offer the buyer something better than the other guy. With that in mind, all of the ski resorts in the Southeast were busier than in recent offseasons doing what they could to offer you, the visitor a little something in the way of improvements and new features.
During normal summers you might hear about one or two resorts making signicants changes or additions to their facility. This offseason it seemed as though every resort was busy. We’ve made some efforts to consolidate what to look for in 2004 at your favorite resort. As we receive on-snow reports from all of the ski areas I’m sure we’ll be able to show off some of these upgrades and additions. For now, here’s summary of what to expect. (We’ve listed them in alphabetical order per state.)
Over the years we’ve made it no secret that we just like the people at Cataloochee. Their owners and management have spent millions in new offerings of the last few years and this past summer was more of the same. Cataloochee has added a new beginner teaching area â€œBeginnerâ€™s Luckâ€ to the right hand side of the Easy Way lift, which will be serviced with a new moving carpet conveyor lift system, similar to a "Magic Carpet". You can’t imagine how much that aids new skiers in getting them back to the top, so they can spend more time learning how to ski, rather than fighting a rope.
They also have a new group building beside the Children’s Learning Center. This building will house the ski school staff and snowmaking staff on the lower level and give them over 7,000 additional square feet of added seating capacity for groups on the both the upper and lower levels. Cataloochee has also upgraded their rental equipment again this season and have added approximately 450 sets of new ski and snowboard rentals.
Also, new for the 2004-2005 season will be their early slope opening time of 8:30am on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays rather than the regular 9:00am.
Over the last few years Cataloochee has become a very popular destination for those that perfer to slide down a hill on a tube rather than skis. Tony’s Tube World has been a huge success and this season they have also added a new conveyor lift system at Tube World in Maggie Valley. One great thing for the hundreds of parents that email us asking about age requirements for tubing. Cataloochee has thought about you! They are also adding a Wee Bowl Snowplay Area for those who do not meet height requirements. Cost will be $5 per session.
…and as with most all of the resorts, Cataloochee has increased their snowmaking capacity and have upgraded their system, using new technology to enhance their ability to make snow in marginal temperatures.
Click Here to Visit Cataloochee’s Website
Hawksnest Resort has spent a lot of time and invested in increasing their popular tubing area during the offseason. Additionally, if you haven’t visited this popular resort recently, you’re in for some surprises as they have renovated the lodge building that houses all of the rentals, lounge, restaurant, snack bar, etc.
Now to the outside! For Snowtubers: Hawksnest has added 3 more lanes to their snowtubing park for a total of 8 lanes each 1000 feet long! Like Cataloochee, Hawksnest has also installed a new moving carpet conveyor lift system. They boast that their ski carpet is the longest in the US and makes your ride back to the top almost as much fun as the ride down. By adding more lanes and the ski carpet, Hawksnest continues to be the leader in snowtubing.
For the Snowboarders: Hawksnest has long been a favorite of snowboarders and this year they have purchased 6 new rails for the upcoming season.
10, 15 & 20 foot flat rails, 28 ft flat-down-flat rail, 15 ft flat-down rail, & a 20 ft battleship rail.
If you haven’t tried Hawksnest Ski Resort you owe it to yourself to try the out and you’ll find out why this resort is a favorite of the locals.
Click Here to Visit Hawksnest’s Website
This year it seems to be the year wherein the smallest resorts have done the most regarding improvements, etc. While some resorts were placing new chairs on old lifts, Sapphire Valley went all out and has jsut finished installing a brand new state-of-the-art Quad-Lift. There will virtually no waiting lines. Sapphire skiiers have always enjoyed short lift lines, but this will make getting from the floor to the top a breeze!
Also Brand New for this season is what Sapphire is billing as "Frozen Falls Tube Park". Brand new this season are 5 lanes, 700 feet long with a vertical drop of 60 feet! State-of-the-art tube lift.
They have also re-shaped their "Bonnie Bunny Hill" for better beginner skiing! The Sapphire Valley Ski Area & Frozen Falls Tube Park is an integral part of a 5,700 acre four-season resort nestled in the pristine Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. The average elevation is 4,300 feet.
Click Here to Visit Sapphire’s Website
As many already know, Ski Beech added a new lift two season ago and this summer they have been busy than ever before putting a new face lift on the lodge buildings, lifts and more. They literally tore down the old clock tower and have renovated the buildings in their village.
Additionally, visitors will immediately notice new signage and they have recently finished up putting a fresh coat of paint on two of their lifts.
They have also added about 4â€ of gravel to their parking lots to prepare for your visits.
Another thing to look for are TWO new web cameras! Ski Beech was the first Southeastern resort to show you live images from their slopes and they have partnered up with SkiNC.com this season to bring two new, pan, tilt and zoom cameras that will get you closer to the action on the slopes. Ski Beech wants you at their slopes…but if you can’t be there, their live views are the next best thing! they have also added to their aggressive and popular season specials.
Click Here to Visit Ski Beech’s Website
As soon as last season ended, Sugar Mountain went to work on replacing the old yellow lift chairs and also the green lift chairs. We’ve received a lot of emails from people wondering why Sugar didn’t replace the lifts to speed people to the top, however, they did upgrade the lifts and the comfortable seats and new lifts will certainly add a great deal to the enjoyment of the ride to the top.
Sugar still has some of the old yellow and green lift chairs for sale if you’re interested in purchasing a bit of history. SkiNC.com bought one of each!
Click Here to Visit Sugar Mountain’s Website
Are you ready for a new Wolf Laurel Ski Resort? Where do we start?!?! As we mentioned earlier…the smaller resorts did the most in changes in the offseason and Wolf Laurel argueably made the most significant revisions and new growth in the offseason.
Wolf Laurel Ski Slopes is proud to announce the opening of a second lodge. The new addition is a 20,000 sq. ft. lodge that includes a restaurant, rental shop, grand lobby with a fireplace, and a spectacular view of the mountains. A beginners slope will open this year at the new lodge with a double chair lift. The double chair lift will access the other 15 slopes on the mountain. Future plans include the addition of an intermediate slope and a quad chair lift.
Wolf Laurel Slopes is also excited to announce the new and improved tubing park called â€œTube the Wolf.â€ The newly designed tubing park is great fun for everyone of all ages. Ride the tube down and ride the â€œmagic carpetâ€ back up to the top of the run.
Now as you drive up the newly paved access road you might think that you have been transported to Montana when you see the new rustic log cabins, endless views of mountain peaks all around and an incredible log and timber ski lodge perched on top of the mountain looking as if it’s been here for hundreds of years.
Wolf Ridge Resort. This is what mountain community living is all about – large lots with long distance views. Many lots still available near the new Wolf Ridge Lodge and are accessible from the paved Wolf Ridge Resort Parkway. Lots starting in the $40â€™s.
Ski Lodge Village. These are true ski-in ski-out slope-slide home sites within steps of the amenities of the lower ski lodge. This is the best of both worlds by offering exclusive year round living, or a prime vacation spot – a home away from home, plus the potential to earn rental income when you canâ€™t make it to the mountains. Lots starting in the $60â€™s
Wolf Island Ski Retreat. Where else can you build your own private retreat in a gated enclave totally surrounded by ski slopes, mountain views, and Mother Nature? Wolf Island is accessible only by a private, gated automobile tunnel running underneath the ski slopes. Lots starting in the $125â€™s
Up on TOP of the popular mountain they have built a brand new village area that boast family-style vacation rentals, swimming pool, shops, tennis courts (for the other seasons!) and more. We have a featured story scheduled for this new mountain of fun.
For now though…visit:
Click Here to Visit the Ski Resort’s Website or
Click Here to Visit The New Development’s Website
Virginiaâ€™s Bryce Resort added the Ridge Runnerâ€™s snow tubing park last season, and will unveil a new carpet lift to service the tubing park for the 2004-2005 season. (Notice a theme here!
All of the tube runs are making it easier and more fun for families and kids to get back to the top of the hill!)
The Ridge Runnerâ€™s Tubing Park has 800-foot-long tubing lanes. 1 hour and 50 minute sessions are priced at $15 per person Tuesday through Friday, and $17 per person on weekends and holidays.
Bryce’s website is down right now but try them at: www.BryceResort.com
First, Virginiaâ€™s Massanutten Resort has a $30 million enhancement on tap, however it wonâ€™t be unveiled until after the close of the 2004-2005 ski season. In the Summer of 2005, Massanutten will showoff Phase One of their project that will produce a 42,000 square foot indoor water park area, with an 88,000 square foot outdoor area scheduled to follow. The park will feature numerous slides, a lazy river, a wave pool, and other amenities. Massanutten will be building a food court, lockers and showers, a video arcade, and a full service restaurant as well.
However, even with all of these changes on tap for the summer of 2005, they were still quite busy this past summer.
They added a second Quad chair. The new lift replaces and doubles the uphill capacity of the lift # 4 Double chair which had been in operation since 1972. The new Quad lift is the second Quad lift at Massanutten. The first Quad, lift # 6 was installed in 1989. The new lift, constructed by Partek Enterprises was completed and tested in time to operate during their Fall foliage season and annual Autumn Peak Festival.
The bottom terminal of the new lift was moved approximately 30 feet up the Southern Comfort trail for improved crowd control and traffic flow. The top terminal was also moved closer to lift # 6 and raised to improve traffic and allow better access to lift # 6. The Southern Comfort trail was also widened at the top and bottom to improve traffic flow and to accommodate the increased capacity of the new lift.
Other improvements to the ski area include a new Bombardier snow groomer, new and retrofitted snowmaking equipment, increased lighting on Southern Comfort, renovations to the lodge and rental shop and a 2000 square foot expansion to the General Store.
Click Here to Visit Massanutten Resort’s Website
While many resorts in the region have been upgrading snowmaking capabilities The Homestead added a brand new system last year. The popular Virginia resort has continued to make improvements to its ski area. One of the most requested additions that visitors ask for is more skiable terrain and The Homestead has delivered. Most slopes and trails were widened over the summer of 2004, resulting in an expanded ski and riding acreage.
Additional rails have been added to the Playland Terrain Park, including some mini rails geared specifically towards introductory riders. The Chute has been extended into the Glades Trail.
Click Here to Visit The Homestead’s Website
Throughout the summer months, Wintergreen has been working to make significant enhancements soon to be unveiled this ski season.
The latest development at Wintergreen is the installation of another high-speed, 6-passenger chairlift to serve the expert terrain, in the Highlands area. The new lift, called the "Highlands Express" replaces a 3-passenger lift that was built in 1981. The new "six-pack" will reduce the lift ride from ten minutes to less than four. Another advantage is that the lines of people waiting to get on the lift will be shorter because of the increased capacity. With the combination of a faster ride to the top and shorter lines at the bottom, skiers and riders will be able to get in twice as many runs in a day’s time than they could previously. This in essence doubles the value of a lift ticket.
The Highlands Express will be a replica of the high-speed, 6-passenger Blue Ridge Express which was put in place on Wintergreen’s beginner terrain in 2002. The beauty of this type of lift is that although it travels more than twice as fast up the mountain, it slows down to a crawl for passengers to load and unload. This is thanks to a mechanical configuration that attaches and detaches each chair from the fast moving cable that moves riders up the hill. When the chair reaches the terminal at either end of the lift, each chair grip is released from the cable and separate drive wheels take over, safely carrying the chair at a slower pace along a wider arc until it re-connects with the cable on the outbound side.
Since the Blue Ridge Express was put in place, skiers and riders have noted the benefit of the faster, smoother ride and the gentler loading and unloading process.
Another enhancement for this season is the addition of a new trail, "The Gap" which will connect the Dobie slope to Devils Elbow. The Dobie slope is immediately behind the main lodge area and is a starting point for many skiers. Devils Elbow is an advanced slope that ends at the bottom of the Highlands lift. Therefore, connecting the two via The Gap means easier, quicker access to the Highlands lift for advanced skiers who previously had to zig-zag around the bottom of Blue Ridge Express lift and Checkerberry Cabin. In conjunction with the addition of The Gap, Devils Elbow will be widened by 75 feet. Another slope being widened is Turkey Chute which will now con-join with Upper Wild Turkey.
These enhancements now give Wintergreen 96 skiable acres, 23 slopes & trails and an uphill capacity of 9,200 skiers per hour.
Even though this enhancement came LAST ski season it bears repeating for those new to the site that Wintergreen added a totally automated snowmaking system. With its new fully-automated system, Wintergreen has the ability to put an inch of fresh snow on all slopes and trails in less than 24 hours. This is thanks in great part to the York Snow’s high-tech computer system that monitors temperature and humidity and controls the snowmaking guns accordingly.
Throughout the season, skiers and riders continued to remark about the higher quality of snow – drier, lighter, and more natural. The resort and skiers both benefited from the new system in the faster recovery time needed to resurface the slopes after a warm period.
The resort also purchased a new state-of-the-art $190,000 grooming machine–the largest in
Wintergreen’s fleet– in order to more effectively maintain the high quality snow.
In order to offer increased variety of terrain for more advanced skiers, the expert slope, Upper Wild Turkey was widened for the 2003-04 season. By widening Upper Wild Turkey Wintergreen is able to keep one side groomed and allow moguls to form on the other, thus giving skiers more variety and choices.
Click Here to Visit Wintergreen’s Website
Canaan added two 5 million gallon water reservoirs over the summer which ensures that the West Virginia Resort will be able to keep the snowguns flying when the temperature dips.
The lodge at Canaan Valley Resort has also seen enhancements. The Aspen Dining Room was renovated and will feature a new menu by Executive Chef Vince Clarke.
The additions of bold hickory and natural-toned furniture, rustic lighting, slate floors and a warming wood burning fireplace will be appreciated by guests to this popular mountain resort.
Rooms in the lodge have been enhanced with keyless-entry doors, high speed internet access in all guest rooms, and wireless internet service in conference facilities.
A lighted pavilion has been built over the ice skating rink, along with two nearby wood-burning fireplaces.
Click Here to Visit Canaan Resort’s Website
Snowshoe Mountain Resort
Again this year, SKI Magazine says Snowshoe Mountain is number one in the southeast region.
SkiNC.com and SkiSoutheast.com readers have voted Snowshoe as their favorite resort in the Southeast for three years straight! Snowshoe has experienced the largest growth and invested the most money to resort enhancement each of the last several years and this past season is no exception. Over the past year, West Virginiaâ€™s Snowshoe Mountain Resort has invested more than six million dollars in capital improvements. Snowshoeâ€™s water and sewer infrastructure was upgraded over the summer, and snowmaking has been enhanced with extra guns and pipes. The newly-upgraded snowmaking system is capable of covering an area equal to five football fields with one foot of snow in an hour when running at top capacity.
Snowboarders will discover even more exciting terrain park offerings this year. Two terrain parks will be offered, along with a new area dedicated to beginning, low impact rail riding for beginners. The new Terrain Garden will be located on the Lower Spruce Glades slope.
Snowshoeâ€™s mountaintop village continues to evolve. A new walking trail connects all of the lodging facilities on Snowshoe Mountainâ€™s basin side, running from Camp 4 to the Top of the World accommodations.
Snowshoe’s development won’t stop this year either, with new development ongoing and we’ll cover that with a feature later in the year.
The Sunrise Backcountry Hut will double the available seating space for dining while providing a full menu and bar. Guests reach the Sunrise Backcountry Hut via a snowmobile or snowcat ride.
Guests can stay for dinner or even spend the night, receiving a gourmet dinner and breakfast.
The Village Bistro is a new restaurant that debuted at Snowshoe this past spring, located within the Allegheny Springs lodging complex. Daily blue plate specials and a large bar area are offered.
The Boathouse, a small restaurant located on the banks of Shaver’s Lake by the base of the Ballhooter high-speed quad, will offer a Surf and Turf-style dinner menu for the first time this year.
We have a special feature story scheduled for Snowshoe mid month so will share more at that time!
In the meantime, Click Here to Visit Snowshoe Mountain’s Website
Again the most popular request from skiers is "add more terrain" and the Timberline Four Seasons Resort and Conference Center has cut a new trail for the 2004-2005 season. "Glade Runner", a black diamond trail cut into the trees between Upper Thunder Draft and Upper White Lightning, will provide some gladed skiing at the West Virginia resort. Timberline also has tentative plans to cut an even longer trail to the right of Dew Drop for the 2005-2006 winter season.
With pump and pipe improvements, Timberline expects a 15% boost in snowmaking capacity this season.
Click Here to Visit Timberline Resort’s Website
Marylandâ€™s Wisp Resort will be selling a new Wisp Advantage Card for the 2004-2005 season, providing skiers and boarders with season-long savings. With the purchase of the Advantage Card, visitors will receive discounts up to 40% on lift tickets, rentals, lessons and snow tubing seven days a week including holidays. Every Advantage Card holder will also receive one free Wisp lift ticket valid opening day through December 24, 2004 and midweek non-holidays only from January 3 – March 28, 2005. Through December 1, every Advantage Card holder will also receive one free unrestricted lift ticket at either Coloradoâ€™s Streamboat Springs or Utahâ€™s The Canyons. The Wisp Advantage Card is priced at $59 for adults, $39 for students, and $29 for children 12 and under.
Wisp will also celebrate its 49th birthday this season by rolling back prices of lift tickets, lessons and rentals to its opening day prices on December 12-13, 2004. On Sunday, December 12 and Monday, December 13, 2004, a two-day lift ticket will be $7 per person, a two-day equipment rental will be $7 per person, and a group ski or snowboard lesson will be $7 per person. A
Saturday-Sunday-Monday lift ticket will be sold for $24 per person.
Click Here to Visit WISP’s Website
More to Come – Before we start getting a lot of email about "resorts that we missed"…this is the information that we have been able to obtain at press time. We will certainly update this story as more information is received.
Snowshoe Resort is Hosting Our SkiSoutheast.com Summit March 3,4,5th and YOU are Invited!
We think we have put together what should be the best deal we’ve ever had for this event and we want you to come and join the fun. It’s always great to play at Snowshoe and to do so with 20% OFF Lodging, and a Free Sunday Lift Pass is a great deal. We are ALSO giving away TWO Free Snowshoe Season Passes, Free TShirts, boggans, stickers, hats and more. Click HERE or on the Graphic below to see more information, book and JOIN US.
If you like skiing or snowboarding and you want to meet some new friends and get 20% OFF LODGING, a Free Sunday Lift Ticket AND be able to ski the slopes before ANYONE ELSE on the mountain…join us March, 3rd, 4th and 5th.