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Magazine

Resort Investment Update

March 2017

Just as the mountains we ski on are forever moving and changing shape, so is the skiing infrastructure we have built around them. Ski resorts require constant updating and maintenance to continuously attract guests and keep their reputation's as the go-to ski destinations of the world. But even by American standards, a $345 million investment of the Whistler Blackcomb ski resort is a staggering statement.

Announced back in 2016 this massive project even goes by its own code name - ‘Renaissance’. The project is not just for our benefit as skiers and boarders but to make Blackcomb as much a summer destination as it is a winter one, including the construction of an indoor waterpark. This multi-million dollar investment is split into three stages with the first $100 million being spend on all the attractions to make it a four seasons resort. The next batch of money will see the construction of a new day lodge and ski school facilities. While the last chunk of investment will be for regenerating the base of the resort.

investment17a Image: www.nytimes.com

But as our interest is mostly ski based there is plenty to be excited about on the slopes. A new ‘Olympic zone’ will be set up with state of the art learning facilities, high speed chairlifts with terrain enhancements as well as snow makers and new restaurants. The Olympic zone is one of four massive snow sections in this resort with the others all receiving high speed chair lifts, trail improvements, a downhill trial and a brand new gondola.

But don’t start booking your flights to Whistler just yet, as unfortunately this mammoth project is only just underway and is expected to be completed within four to five years, with an extra two for the base remodelling. But when the waterpark & enhanced ski resort is up and running it will surely be at the top of everyone’s to do list.

If you’re going to find it hard to wait that long to go experience something new and amazing then Austria should be your next destination of choice. For the 2016/17 ski season it was announced that new ski lifts had been built to further connect the Arlberg skiing landscape. This huge ski area is now even bigger, spanning across eight different resorts, totalling 305km of ski slopes with 87 ski lifts! The resorts include St Anton, St Christoph, Stuben, Zϋrs, Lech, Oberlech, Schröken and Warth.

investment17b Image: www.igluski.com/news

The new 10 person gondola operates between Zϋrs and Stuben with a further three cable cars also having been opened. This has all cost around €45 million and sees the introduction of the ‘Run of Fame’ which will allow people to complete a full circuit of every resort within one day of skiing, or approximately 65km of runs. Staying in Arlberg gives you a very unique opportunity to ski so many resorts in a day and pitch that with the beautiful towns and villages in the surrounding areas in which you can stay, and it’s the perfect Austrian holiday.

Speaking of perfect holidays, in a few years’ time that is exactly what awaits you in Japan - Niseko Village in Hokkaido to be precise. The wave of popularity for Japanese skiing shows no sign of stopping, in fact with investment like this it may soon become the most popular skiing destination in the world. The development of Niseko village includes a brand new 50-room Ritz Carlton Reserve, 32 new townhouses in YTL Hotels’ Kasara, Niseko village, and two all-season chairlifts.

Both new chairlifts and a gondola were erected in time for the 16/17 skiing season with the new luxurious hotel expected to be completed by 2020. One of the lifts, called the Village Express is a 2,723-foot-long high speed chairlift with both 6-person chair and 8-person gondola on the same line. The Village Express is also the first chair-gondola hybrid lift in Japan, the only lift with glass bottom gondola cabins, and the first six-person chair in a major ski resort in Japan.

investment17c Image: www.traveldailymedia.com

Japan is famed for it's snow and especially it's powder skiing (see skiresortadvisor.com/blog/saving-up-helicopter for a better insight into Niseko). However whilst Japan may have everybody in Asia hooked on the slopes, it is investments like the Ritz Carlton which will attract your more average skier from Europe and America. At the moment the French, Swiss and Austrian Alps remain the home of skiing tourism but in the next few years we could see something of a swing to the other side of the planet for many.

That said, for some of us, American and Japanese resorts are just a bit too far away, so here’s a round-up of investment in some of the resorts you may be more familiar with.

The popular destination of Val d’Isere in France have fitted a new 10 person gondola with heated seats and even Wi-Fi to replace the old Solaise Express. There will be 91 bubbles increasing the hourly capacity to 3600.

If you are a regular visitor to Saalbach-Hinterglemm then you will now have access to 70km more runs with the new gondola linking neighbouring resort Feiberbrunn. This totals the ski area for the resort to 270km overtaking the SkiWelt (240km).

The six man chair which replaced the tee-bar at the top of Schwarzee in Zermatt, Switzerland last year opened up more space and runs and has also been widened making it much more attractive to visit this area.

Chamonix has also had some upgrades with two new chairlifts in the Brevent/Flegere region, a six man chair replacing La Parsa and the old draglift has also been updated. The changes should increase capacity to 3000 skiers an hour.

If you happen to come across something else new and exciting whilst on your ski travels, then why not share in our comments section.

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Tom Norris
Media Writer

Tom is an avid skier and lover of travel.

He aims to combine his interests in sport and writing to carve out a long and distinguished career in sports journalism.

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