As winter approaches, Aspen Snowmass prepares for the upcoming ski season with a new chairlift, added snowmaking terrain, upgrades and remodels to facilities, a new restaurant concept, increased contactless commerce and new sustainability initiatives. In addition to the range of capital projects, enhancements and upgrades, new safety protocols will be instituted across every aspect of the business with guests’, employees’ and the community’s well-being at the forefront.
At Snowmass, the Big Burn lift is being replaced with a new six-passenger, high-speed chairlift, additional snowmaking is being added to the Alpine Springs zone, the Treehouse Kid’s Adventure Center sees a remodel of the check-in space, and a new restaurant concept called High Alpine and Alpin Room debuts.
Sustainability remains front-and-center with Aspen Snowmass beginning to turn over its older fleet of snowcats to the new PRINOTH Tier V snowcat, an innovative machine on the front lines of cleaner grooming operations. The new 138-bed workforce housing building in Willits will be powered entirely by electric energy. This work continues to be coupled with continuous efforts to drive systematic climate policy change at the political level.
On Aspen Mountain, new snowmaking is being implemented, which will provide top-to-bottom skiing and riding on a man-made snow surface for the first time. When temperatures cool off and the snowmaking teams are able to blow snow, this allows the Silver Queen Gondola to open as early as possible with 3,267 vertical feet of skiing.
New this winter, guests will have the ability to manage and complete the check-in process long before arriving in-resort with the new Aspen Snowmass Account Portal and the updated capabilities on the Aspen Snowmass App. With waivers, food & beverage ordering, Aspen Card QR codes, and more moving digitally, this means less time in the ticket office and more time on the mountain.
“Skiing and riding promotes well-being and renewal for all of us during what has been a year we will never forget,” says Katie Ertl, senior vice president of mountain operations. “We look forward to providing the same level of service we have become known for while continuing to add to the in-resort experience with new improvements and enhancements. This year is going to look different, but, even from a distance, it will offer a sense of a community and of connection. There will still be the fresh mountain air, the awe-inspiring scenery, and time outdoors with one another. Our teams are on-hand to offer the best possible experience we can.”
The following details what’s new at Aspen Snowmass for the coming winter 2020/21 season.
New Big Burn Chairlift Continues Snowmass Renaissance
This summer, Aspen Snowmass replaced the Big Burn lift on Snowmass with a new six-passenger, high-speed chairlift as the old lift had reached its ‘operational lifetime.’ The new $10.8 million chairlift will have a ride time of just over seven minutes and is another substantial investment on the long list of recent improvements that have taken place at Snowmass in recent years.
The Snowmass renaissance has seen a new on-mountain restaurant called Sam’s, a modern Italian concept, as well as the significant Snowmass Base Village (SBV) development, including the new Limelight Hotel Snowmass, a large Four Mountain Sports rental/retail store, an ice skating rink, The Collective Snowmass community building, and new restaurants and shops. In the last six years, Snowmass has also seen the addition of the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster, open during the winter months, as well as upgrades to the High Alpine zone, which included a high-speed quad, as well as a complete renovation of the High Alpine restaurant.
This past spring, Aspen Snowmass sold the old Big Burn lifts with all proceeds going to the Aspen Snowmass employee funded and run Caring for Community Fund. The proceeds totaled $20,000 and were distributed to local non-profits that assist in times of need with things like safe and affordable housing, counseling, food aid, legal assistance, healthcare and job training resources.
Expanded Snowmaking on Top of Aspen Mountain
The teams at Aspen Snowmass implemented further snowmaking capabilities at the top of Aspen Mountain this summer, which will now provide top-to-bottom skiing and riding on a man-made snow surface. The new snowmaking encompasses approximately 20 acres of terrain on Silver Bell, One & Two Leaf and upper Copper. From there, skiers and riders can connect to other trails such as Deer Park, Spar Gulch and Little Nell, which already have snowmaking. Approvals are in place for an additional 32 acres of snowmaking to be built on Aspen Mountain in the future.
The terrain will be serviced with 28 new state-of-the-art, automated snowguns, which use approximately 40 percent less energy than snowguns from 20 years ago. The project also includes an additional three million gallon storage pond located at a similar elevation to the current storage pond near the base of the Gent’s Ridge chair. Storing water up high makes the process of pumping to the top much more effective and contributes greatly to energy efficiency.
Snowmass Snowmaking Expansion
In addition to the Aspen Mountain snowmaking project, the teams at Snowmass are implementing further snowmaking capabilities on the ski runs Lodgepole and Lunkerville. The approximate 28 acres of additional snowmaking will provide more reliable early season skiing and riding in the Alpine Springs zone on Snowmass. Like Aspen Mountain, the new automated snowguns are more energy efficient. The automation reduces the energy used to start-up and shut-down the system and automatically adjusts the amount of water being used based on the air temperature and humidity.
The Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center Sees Remodel of Check-In Space
The Treehouse Kids' Adventure Center is a multilevel, approximate 16,000 square-foot childcare and ski school facility in Snowmass Base Village. The facility is the main access point in Snowmass for both childcare and children’s ski school with rentals, childcare and ski school all under one roof. The first of its kind in the ski industry, the Treehouse brings the great outdoors inside with Colorado-themed playrooms such as the Butterfly Room, the Trout Haven Room, the Beaver Lodge room as well as a multi-layered climbing room for exploration. This summer, the remodel will change approximately 4,000 square-feet of the interior on the check-in level with the goal of better flow, expediency and guest experience for children’s Ski & Snowboard School registration. Ultimately, the remodel will help both kids and parents get out on the hill faster and enjoy more time on the slopes.
Sundeck Restaurant Upgrades
This summer, the Sundeck restaurant atop Aspen Mountain underwent a roof maintenance project, which is now complete, allowing for better snow management and upkeep during the winter. In addition to the new roof, the building also underwent cosmetic upgrades including an exterior paint job changing the color from dark green to charcoal gray. Lastly, inside the Sundeck, a new art exhibit will be on display with framed photos from the Gray Malin in Aspen series shot last winter as a nod to the Golden Age of skiing.
Food & Beverage
Reimagined High Alpine and Alpin Room Restaurants on Snowmass
Aspen Snowmass introduces the new High Alpine and Alpin Room restaurants, an evolution to the legacy of Gwyn’s, a longtime Snowmass favorite. Diners will experience some of the tradition and favorites from years past, in addition to a newly envisioned take on mountain dining. Under one roof, skiers have the option of eating at two distinctly different restaurants with expansive deck seating, a large wood-burning fireplace, a wrap-around bar, and multi-level seating walled by large windows. High Alpine continues the tradition of market-style food and beverage options with various stations serving freshly prepared pizza, homemade soups and stews, fresh salads, grilled burgers, and more. The new Alpin Room sit-down restaurant pays homage to the ski culture of the Alps and introduces a new menu that draws influence from the great mountain dining traditions of the French, Swiss and Austrian Alps. Lunch starts with French onion soup, lobster salad, or the “Tartiflette,” a fondue like combination of cheese, potatoes, and smokey bacon. Entrée plates then move toward the chicken schnitzel with frise salad, duck confit with leek spätzle, or a vegan sweet potato curry. House-baked desserts top off the meal with options such as black forest tart or cinnamon carrot cake. An extensive wine list, beer options and cocktails complement the new menu. Alpin Room will also be open for breakfast. As in all of the Aspen Snowmass mountain restaurants, High Alpine and Alpin Room provide food choices that are sourced from a local network of sustainable farmers and partners.
Sam’s Restaurant on Snowmass
New last season, Aspen Snowmass introduced Sam’s, an Italian restaurant located at 10,620 ft. at the top of Sam’s Knob on Snowmass. The popular restaurant offers a modern Italian concept with sweeping views of the Elk Mountains and a sophisticated but lively food experience. The $2.5 million remodel delivers an open bar area, live-action kitchen, fireplace with relaxed seating and a stylish deck. A sit-down lunch service emphasizes a shared dining experience that begins with antipasti platters such as gorgonzola dolce and margherita arancini followed by pastas and entrees such as rigatoni bolognese and grilled salmon with za’atar and lemon. Pasta is made in-house daily as well as the restaurant’s artisanal bread. Sam’s features a curated wine list and signature cocktails such as the negroni spritz. Quick-serve and grab-and-go breakfast options are available daily at 9 a.m. from the Italian style coffee bar.
Tier V PRINOTH Snowcat
Last season, Aspen Snowmass tested PRINOTH’s new Tier V (Tier Five) snowcat, one of only two in the United States, for grooming ski runs. Tier V standards require the world's most aggressive pollution controls on carbon monoxide, harmful particulates as well as smog-forming and planet-warming oxides of nitrogen. Just as important, the new snowcats are more fuel-efficient and allow the operator to increase performance through intelligent features. PRINOTH chose Aspen Snowmass for pre-market testing because of its longstanding environmental commitment and sound business relationship. This season, Aspen Snowmass will begin turning over its older fleet by adding four new Tier V snowcats.
Willits Center Workforce Housing
Set to open spring of 2021, the Willits Center represents Aspen Snowmass’s commitment to doing business sustainably. The 53,000-square-foot building will add 138 beds to the workforce housing portfolio, which is critical to maintaining staff in one of the most challenging housing markets in the United States. Despite that need, the company chose to deed-restrict eight of the building’s 43 units for non-company employees in Basalt, with a priority given to childcare providers. The $19-million project received no public subsidy, and will be 100 percent electric, meaning the building will be heated and cooled with electric heat pumps powered by renewable energy, one of the key steps in building construction that helps society achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions. The building’s 80 kW rooftop solar will supplement the local utility’s mostly renewable power grid. The Willits Center’s proximity to the local bus system will also help alleviate the region’s traffic and congestion issues, and is another climate solution as it enables employees to live without personal vehicles. All employees will receive free bus passes, and Aspen Snowmass will pay for the installation of a WE-Cycle bike share station to make getting to the bus stop even easier. The Center will also be equipped with multiple electric vehicle charging stations for the region’s growing fleet of electric vehicles.
Snowmass Base Village
Snowmass Base Village Development Continues
Located at the base of Snowmass Ski Area in the heart of Snowmass Village, Colo., the Snowmass Base Village (SBV) development is a $600 million mountain-resort development, currently the largest under construction in North America. The first phase of construction was completed fall of 2018 and included the new Limelight Hotel Snowmass, ski-in/ski-out residences, a new Four Mountain Sports rental/retail shop, public events plaza with ice-skating rink and fire pits. As construction continued, last winter saw the debut of The Collective Snowmass, a hub for community events featuring a new restaurant, called mix6, and MoxiBar, offering après ski options, as well as a large Game Lounge and community space for hosting events from local organizations. The latest phase of the project includes the continued opening of the new One Snowmass, which includes ski-in/ski-out residences, and additional retail and dining options with staggered openings such as JÜS Snowmass, King Yoga Studio, Eye Pieces, Alux Spalon, StraightLine Studio, Sundae Artisan Ice Cream, GG’s Market and the Snowmass Medical Care Clinic. For more information about the Snowmass Base Village development, visit www.allinsnowmass.com.
Aspen Snowmass Account Portal
The new Aspen Snowmass Account Portal gives guests the ability to manage and complete the check-in process before arriving in-resort. After purchasing lift tickets, ski rentals and lessons online, the Account Portal will lead guests through a step-by-step process to access trip confirmations, complete digital waivers and registrations, and how-to download the Aspen Snowmass App for quick access to Lesson FastPass, Rental FastPass, and Aspen Card QR codes. This allows for fewer points of contact while in resort. Guests can now completely avoid the ticket office by ordering Aspen Cards to their hotel or home within 72 hours of purchase, or utilize pickup boxes to print cards in resort.
Aspen Snowmass App
The updated Aspen Snowmass App now allows users to access all of the information and functionality of the ticket office all in the palm of their hand. The App helps guests purchase lessons and rentals, gives access to express lift ticket reload, assists in ordering food and beverage items from select on mountain restaurants, helps sign digital waivers, gives access to App rewards and Passholder Benefits, like friends and family vouchers, and provides access to Lesson FastPass, Rental FastPass, and Aspen Card QR codes. This all supplies an easy way for guests to have less points of contact while visiting Aspen Snowmass and maximizes a guests time spent on the hill. The Aspen Snowmass App will serve as the in-resort information hub while offering favorite features from years past including tracking skier days and bowl laps, snow reports, weather updates, parking lot status and more.
New safety protocols will be instituted across every aspect of the business and will include distancing protocols, face-coverings, limits in buildings and all recommended health and safety measures from County and State agencies. In addition, redesigned operating procedures will be introduced in ski school, lift lines, on-mountain dining and in rental and retail stores.
Winter Operating Dates
Opening: Nov. 26, 2020
Closing: April 18, 2021
Opening: Dec. 12, 2020
Closing: April 4, 2021
Opening: Dec. 18, 2020
Closing: April 4, 2021
Opening: Nov. 26, 2020
Closing: April 18, 2021