Alterra Mountain Company outlined a nearly $500 million capital investment program focused on enhancing the guest and employee experience across its destination resorts over the next year. The plan follows last year’s milestone when the company completed more than $1 billion in capital improvements over its first five years of operation, double its original financial commitment of $555 million announced when it was formed.
In the year ahead, Alterra said it would invest almost $400 million for lifts, snowmaking, summer adventures, additional guest amenities, and resort infrastructure; $50 million dedicated to employee housing; and $40 million for technology upgrades to better connect with guests and streamline the experience.
In the past year, Alterra completed three projects, including opening the Base to Base Gondola that remade Palisades Tahoe into the largest ski area in California, opening Steamboat’s Greenhorn Ranch Learning Center and the first stage of its Wild Blue Gondola, planned to become the longest gondola in North America and the fastest in the country.
“In our first five years, Alterra Mountain Company has established itself as a proven leader in the outdoor industry, and we intend to continue to innovate by investing in large-scale projects that will deliver differentiated guest experiences,” said company President & CEO Jared Smith. “These projects, and our investments in the years ahead, demonstrate our unwavering commitment to evolving our destinations to better serve our guests and to improving the experience our employees can expect when living and working in our mountain communities.”
Elevated Guest Amenities
Alterra is investing in transforming its base areas and on-mountain amenities, including food and beverage and skier service offerings to include:
- In winter 2023/24, Steamboat’s three-year Full Steam Ahead project concludes with the addition of 655 acres of expert terrain in Mahogany Ridge and Fish Creek Canyon, making Steamboat the second-largest ski resort in Colorado. Wild Blue Gondola will become the longest gondola in North America and the fastest ten-person gondola in the U.S. Over the course of Full Steam Ahead, Steamboat has transformed Steamboat Square adding an escalator to eliminate stairs, moving the Steamboat Gondola on snow to make room for a larger Steamboat Square featuring Skeeter’s Ice Rink, the Mountain Stage and the Range Food and Drink Hall, and introduced Greenhorn Ranch, a dedicated beginners area on-mountain. This concludes the company’s initial $220 million and three-year investment in Full Steam Ahead.
- Crystal Mountain’s new 25,000-square-foot skier services facility, called Mountain Commons, will bring new guest services and ticketing, retail, dining, and an expanded slope-side beach area for the 2023/24 winter season.
- Snowshoe is planned for the new design concept replacing the Shaver Center that will feature enhanced skier services, including food and beverage and après offerings, and other year-round activities.
Alterra also plans to enhance the base area offerings at Deer Valley Resort, Winter Park Resort, Palisades Tahoe, and Mammoth Mountain in the future.
Increased Lift and Terrain Capacity
Alterra completed the installation of six lifts before the 2022/23 winter season. In 2023, it will invest in an additional eight lifts, including new or replacement lifts at Steamboat, Mammoth Mountain, Winter Park Resort, Solitude Mountain Resort, and Snowshoe Mountain.
- The completion of Steamboat’s Wild Blue Gondola will nearly double out-of-base capacity to the top of Sunshine Peak at 10,397 feet in about 12 minutes. Steamboat will also add 655 acres of expert terrain in Mahogany Ridge and Fish Creek Canyon, serviced by the Mahogany Ridge Express high-speed quad lift, making Steamboat the second-largest ski resort in Colorado.
- Snowshoe will replace the Powder Monkey lift with a fixed-grip quad that will increase uphill capacity in the Basin area and improve access to its Western Territory.
- Pioneer Lift at Winter Park Resort will become a six-pack and benefit from a mid-station loading point for better return skiing.
- Canyon Express at Mammoth Mountain will be upgraded from a quad to a high-speed six-pack to boost uphill capacity by 25 percent and allow faster reopening after weather events.
- Eagle Express at Solitude Mountain Resort will be replaced with a high-speed six-pack lift.
Expanded Beginner Terrain and Ski Racing Courses
Alterra continues to invest in beginner terrain and racing facilities, including Steamboat’s new Greenhorn Ranch beginners area featuring terrain-based learning, four magic carpets and the Greenhorn Ranch Express, a detachable quad lift. Enhancements are also being made to beginners’ areas in Deer Valley Resort, Stratton, Snowshoe, and Big Bear Mountain Resort.
Alterra is also making significant investments in recreational ski racing infrastructure, adding free racing courses to each of its mountain destinations in partnership with newly-minted FIS all time World Cup record-holder, Mikaela Shiffrin, U.S. Ski and Snowboard, and Outside Interactive, Inc., owner of NASTAR. Alterra and its partners hope offering these investments for free will invite and ignite the next generation of ski-race champions.
More Efficient Snowmaking
Alterra is investing in multi-year snowmaking programs bringing higher efficiency equipment to all resorts, including overhauling systems at Winter Park Resort, Steamboat, Palisades Tahoe, Sugarbush, Snowshoe, and Mammoth Mountain, increasing energy efficiency and reducing water usage to reduce its environmental impact.
Additional Summer Offerings
To provide guests with year-round mountain adventures, Alterra said it continues expanding its slate of summer activities to enhance the guest experience beyond winter. Among its larger projects:
- Mammoth Mountain will debut the revamped Woolly’s Adventure Summit, which adds one of the longest mountain coasters in North America after introducing expanded and improved winter tubing lanes this past winter. In addition, Woolly’s will break ground this summer on a permanent base lodge offering food and beverage. Future phases plan to include the addition of a zip coaster, adventure ropes courses and the relocation of Snowmobile Adventures, making Woolly’s Adventure Summit a year-round center.
- Additional summer offerings include a new alpine slide at Winter Park and an aerial adventure course at Crystal Mountain. The Winter Park Alpine Slide first opened in 1980 as Colorado’s longest alpine slide with 3,000 feet of smooth track. The track will be replaced this summer. Crystal Mountain’s new Flying Raven Adventure Course will feature aerial challenges, including rope bridges, barrel crossings, and treetop ladders, and will open this summer.
Enhanced Digital Guest Technology
Alterra said it would invest significant capital in improving its digital capabilities to enhance the guest experience from booking to arriving at its resorts, including additional Ikon Pass app features, streamlined booking and packaging options, new RFID gate technology at most resorts, and a more connected experience on and off the mountain.
Alterra committed to doubling its portfolio-wide employee housing capacity over the next five-year investment period. In 2023, the company will add close to 500 workforce housing beds with expansion at Palisades Tahoe, Stratton, Tremblant, and Winter Park Resort, marking the opening of a new housing facility to accommodate over 300 employees on resort grounds. The company also plans for nearly 1,000 additional affordable workforce housing beds across Palisades Tahoe, Blue Mountain, Crystal Mountain, Sugarbush, and Deer Valley Resort.
Photo courtesy Alterra Mountain Company