Lake Tahoe Resorts Enhance Guest Experience with Nearly $100 Million in Capital Improvements

Fresh off a record-shattering season in terms of both snowfall and skier visits, the seven Ski Lake Tahoe resorts carry this momentum into the 2011-12 season thanks to nearly $100 million in capital improvements that will enhance the guest experience and provide for an unforgettable winter vacation. Travelers headed to Lake Tahoe this season will be welcomed by vibrant mountain villages, revamped base areas and new on-mountain lodges, remodeled restaurants, new lifts, expanded terrain, state-of-the-art snowmaking systems and grooming equipment, innovative new programs and cutting-edge technologies. With long range weather forecasters again calling for a powerful La Niña weather pattern similar to the one that delivered over 800 inches of snowfall last season, Lake Tahoe is poised to be the “must-ski” winter destination for the 2011-12 season.

“Major new developments and resort amenities have been added this year to the legendary mountain experience and unique snowsports culture that sets Lake Tahoe apart from all other winter destinations,” said John Wagnon, president of Ski Lake Tahoe. “As a destination, Lake Tahoe continues to benefit from lake-wide capital investments that have noticeably improved the quality of the guest experience while preserving the superior value proposition the region has been known for – that being the most affordable winter destination in the country.”

Lake Tahoe has seen a number of groundbreaking announcements regarding resort mergers and acquisitions within the last year. Beyond merely expanding the variety of lift ticket options for destination guests, these recent developments have spurred a renewed commitment to growth at the Ski Lake Tahoe resorts.

On the slopes, skiers and snowboarders of every ability level will enjoy a number of new lifts and thousands of acres of expanded terrain. Newbies to the sport will find a handful of new conveyor lifts located in dedicated beginner areas complete with sculpted terrain designed to shorten the learning curve and ease the introduction to the slopes. Intermediate and advanced skiers and riders will be welcomed by new high speed chairlifts, freshly cut trails, widened runs and gladed tree-skiing on both shores of the lake. Experts can sign up for a number of new backcountry snowcat operations and guided adventures while those who prefer the freeride scene will be blown away by the advancements made in terrain parks thanks to new industry partnerships and specialized machinery.

Major developments are also underway in terms of new on-mountain construction and base area redevelopment projects. Not only do these new structures streamline the morning process and allow for convenient dining options, most have been built utilizing the latest in sustainable, green construction practices protecting the clarity of Lake Tahoe itself.

This recent positive growth trend extends far beyond the rope boundaries at the ski resorts and includes new projects at a number of lake-wide resort developments, casino properties, spas, restaurants and shopping venues. More than merely a getaway, the visitor experience in Lake Tahoe centers around an active-minded, sustainable lifestyle enriched with outdoor adventure, entertainment, luxury and a welcoming sense of camaraderie found only on the West Coast.

The recently remodeled Reno-Tahoe International Airport, named the number one airport in the nation in terms of new flights, has also announced new direct service from Minneapolis-St. Paul and Boston as well as additional daily flights from Los Angeles, Denver, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas and other key connection cities. Yet to experience a closure due to snow, RTIA offers unbeatable airfare into the region and the “bags fly free” policy of its dominant carrier Southwest Airlines continues to resonate with value-minded travelers.

Home to the highest concentration of ski resorts in North America, Lake Tahoe presents an endless variety of skiing and snowboarding options with stay-and-ski packages starting as low as $79 per night. At $299, the Ski Lake Tahoe Six-Pack Lift Ticket is valid for six days of skiing or riding at all seven premier Ski Lake Tahoe resorts and truly represents the ultimate in variety, flexibility and savings. To be a part of another historical, record-setting season, guests should visit to find everything needed to book a winter vacation to Lake Tahoe in one convenient location.

The following is a brief rundown of “what’s new” at all seven Ski Lake Tahoe Resorts for the upcoming 2011-12 winter season.


Squaw Valley has joined forces with Alpine Meadows to offer more than 6,000 acres of legendary skiing and riding accessed via a single lift ticket and interconnecting shuttle. This season will mark the first phase of $50 million in capital improvements announced as part of a modern-day renaissance taking place at Squaw Valley that includes a new day lodge, new restaurants and upgraded skier services around the mountain. The resort’s base area will undergo a major transformation this offseason to include: a new restaurant and bar in the heart of the village; a remodel of the infamous Olympic House sundeck; transformation of the base level of Squaw Valley’s Olympic House into a new day lodge and family recreation center; and a renovation to the interior of the 17,000 square foot Squaw Kids facility. On the mountain, the upper terminal of North America’s only Funitel (28 person gondola) will be renovated to include the new Funi’s Mountaintop Café and Market along with the only ski-in/ski-out coffee shop on the continent. Three new magic carpet lifts, new rental gear, progression-based terrain features and a new lesson structure will be in place at the Snowsport School as part of an evolution taking shape to vastly improve the beginner learning experience.


Showcasing the recently incorporated terrain of Huckleberry Canyon, Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort will now offer backcountry snowcat tours this season for up to seven lucky guests on select days for riders of advanced to expert ability levels. The snowcat ride will alleviate the existing hike required to access the terrain thereby allowing skiers and snowboarders to save their energy for the awaiting deep powder turns. Also new this season, the resort plans to build on last year’s successful debut of the Blizzard Mountain tubing and snowplay area by expanding it to include two rope tow accessible tubing lanes, an expanded sledding area, a bounce house, snowman kits, snowball makers, snack bar, fire pits, picnic tables and complimentary rides on the all-new Blizzard Mountain Snowcat. Skiers and snowboarders can pre-purchase 3paks of lift tickets to Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort for as low as $51 per day and guest who show a boarding pass from a flight into Reno-Tahoe International Airport are eligible for discounted lift tickets.


Recently acquired by Vail Resorts, Northstar has $30 million in capital improvements underway for the upcoming 2011-12 winter season, including a new 1,440 foot detachable quad chairlift and a new 700-seat on-mountain restaurant atop the resort’s Tahoe Zephyr Express Lift, featuring expansive views of the Pacific Crest. The Village at Northstar will welcome top outdoor brands Patagonia and Burton to its impressive shopping outlets, and has expanded The North Face and True North retail stores. Two-time Olympic gold medalist, professional snowboarder and skateboarder Shaun White will call Northstar his home mountain and primary training resort, and will work with Northstar and Snow Park Technologies to build a custom 22 foot halfpipe this season that will be open to the general public when White is not training. The resort has also expanded its boundaries offering 170 additional acres of new sidecountry terrain, new snowcat tours on Sawtooth Ridge and guided backcountry tours outside the resort’s boundary into a highly anticipated area of future expansion. Finally, Northstar will be the lastest Vail Resorts’ owned mountain to bring EpicMix to the slopes allowing guests to effortlessly share their ski and snowboard experience via social media and take advantage of real-time features such as finding their friends on the mountain. EpicMix photographers will also be on the slopes to take professional photos that will be uploaded directly to guests’ EpicMix accounts and can be shared for free on Facebook and Twitter.


Boasting Lake Tahoe’s highest base elevation, Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe enhanced its supplemental snowmaking capabilities this offseason by installing a top-to-bottom system on its Silver Dollar run ensuring early season access on the Slide Bowl portion of the resort. This side of the mountain has been the focus of significant improvements over the last few seasons such as the modern amenities now housed in the Winters Creek Lodge powered by three environmentally-friendly extreme energy windspires. Located less than thirty minutes from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, families hoping to make turns right off the tarmac can take advantage of the reduced pricing this season on Family Packs which include two adult lift tickets and two child lift tickets (17 and under) for only $138.


As part of more than $6 million in capital improvements, Kirkwood Mountain Resort has announced the completion of two new facilities intended to serve as activity hubs conveniently located in the heart of the resort’s Mountain Village – the first for adventure-minded families and the second for backcountry enthusiasts. The new High Alpine Adventure Center (HAAC) will serve as the booking office for all the family-friendly activities at the resort such as tubing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and the recently constructed ZipTahoe Canopy Tour. Expedition: Kirkwood, North America’s premier backcountry education program designed to expand the boundaries of mountain exploration, has also moved to a brand new $1 million facility complete with classrooms, conference center, high end retail storefront and specialized demo center completed in partnership with Marmot, K2 and BCA. Guests will also be welcomed by a new hotel-style lodging option thanks to a $5 million facelift to the Mountain Club property located slopeside in the Mountain Village. Finally, the resort has invested more than $1 million in new grooming snowcats and expanded its already impressive event calendar to include the California FreeFlow Festival slated to take place March 23-25, 2012.


Last season saw the addition of the 14,980 square foot Tamarack Lodge located mid-mountain atop the resort’s 2.4 mile long gondola, anchoring the amenities available at Adventure Peak. New this winter, Heavenly will unveil the similarly designed Bear Cave Lodge which will house its 2,022-square-foot kid’s ski school facility bringing the level of the resort’s ski school amenities up to the level of its world-class ski school instruction. Not only does this significantly upgrade the resort’s Ski & Ride School facilities, but it ties together the entire Adventure Peak area into a hub of fun for the whole family including tubing, sledding, snow bikes and more. The resort has also added three new trails under its Stagecoach and Galaxy chairlifts on the Nevada side of the mountain along with widening a number of runs on the California side of the mountain vastly expanding the options for the intermediate/advanced skier and snowboarder. Additionally, the resort has once again upgraded its grooming capabilities by expanding the nation’s largest fleet of the most efficient grooming snowcats currently available.


Alpine Meadows has joined forces with Squaw Valley to offer more than 6,000 acres of legendary skiing and riding accessed via a single lift ticket and interconnecting shuttle. Following last season’s introduction of a cutting-edge child chairlift safety system and GPS tracking units for kids enrolled in ski school, the resort continues to invest in innovative, industry-leading technologies designed to enhance the guest experience. This season Alpine Meadows plans to debut an entirely new fleet of demo and rental equipment that take advantage of the revolutionary new rocker technologies currently advancing the sport. What differentiates this fleet from others is the “standard” equipment will be on par with most resorts’ high end demos. Additionally, the resort has created a totally unique instructional program called Adventure 55 geared exclusively towards baby boomers. The eight week program will take place on Tuesdays with a goal of pairing like-minded individuals looking to meet other active-minded members of their age group who share a passion for exploring the varied terrain found at Alpine Meadows.

For further information and to directly book travel, lodging and transportation for Ski Lake Tahoe resorts and its travel partners, visit

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Ryan Alford

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