The countdown is on. Soon Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado and Park City Mountain Resort in Utah will be open for the 2016–17 season. Expect plenty of powder, thrilling downhills and excellent vacation opportunities in the mountains.
Club Traveler had the opportunity to interview Rafe Sykes, Hilton Grand Vacations Club general manager – Rocky Mountain Region, who says this time of year is exciting for any skier.
“The leaves start changing and the mountain mornings are cold and crisp,” says Sykes, who oversees Sunrise Lodge, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club in Park City and Valdoro Mountain Lodge in Breckenridge. “As we get closer to Thanksgiving, we check and recheck all our gear anticipating the first flakes of the season.”
In other words, Club Members won’t need to wait much longer to strap on their skis or boards, or simply sit inside and drink hot cocoa while admiring the snow-covered Rockies at either of these great winter escapes.
Booking Tip: Ski season is a popular time at both Sunrise Lodge and Valdoro Mountain Lodge. Planning ahead for the 2017-2018 ski season? Be sure to book as far out as your reservation window allows.
Park City, Utah
For more than 150 years, travelers have visited Park City for its riches. First they came for gold and silver. Now they come for its dry, deep powder. Park City became even better with the formation of Park City Mountain Resort, the largest ski resort in the United States. The ski resort opened last season as part of a $50 million capital improvement project to unite Park City and Canyons resorts.
Travelers can enjoy recent improvements, including riding the new Quicksilver Gondola and taking advantage of upgrades to the King Con and Motherlode lifts. They can also experience the renovated Red Pine Lodge and Summit House.
The Quicksilver Gondola was introduced during the 2015-16 season. The gondola transports visitors from the Silverlode Lift at Park City to the Flatiron Lift at Canyons in just 8½ minutes. Photo courtesy of Park City Mountain Resort.
During the 2016–17 season, the app EpicMix will be available at Park City for the first time. EpicMix crowdsources information to calculate up-to-the-minute lift wait times so that skiers can be better informed about busy spots and more easily navigate the mountain. The app also allows skiers to track their accomplishments on the mountain, compete in challenges and share photos.
For those who enjoy live music, head to the Park City Base Area every Friday and Saturday during the season to hear performances by local musicians. Check the ski resort’s calendar for other Après Live Music events on the mountain.
Opening Day: Park City Mountain Resort’s Park City Base Area opens November 18, and the Canyons Village area of the resort opens November 23.
Where to Stay: Sunrise Lodge, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club, is at the bottom of the Sunrise Lift in a base area now called Canyons Village. Club Members staying at Sunrise Lodge have direct access to Park City Mountain Resort and can start their days at the resort and ski into town for lunch, or start in town and take the day to make it all the way to the mountain ski resort.
Photo courtesy of Breckenridge Ski Resort.
Breckenridge, or Breck as it’s known to its legion of fans, boasts many fabulous features, including the largest historic district in Colorado and the highest chairlift in North America. The area enjoys 300 days of sunshine each year and an average snowfall of 360 inches, making it an excellent ski destination.
This ski season visitors will see Peak 9 get a facelift, which will include a new snowmelt system and brick pavers, as well as have the opportunity to dine at new restaurants in and outside of the resort. In December, atop of Peak 7 and just steps from the Independence SuperChair lift, a new 490-seat restaurant will open at the resort. The restaurant will offer dramatic views, highlight the area’s mining history and serve Mediterranean food as well as more traditional mountain food, like burgers and pizza.
Travelers can also take a break from the powder at a new restaurant slated to open at Breckenridge Distillery during the 2016–17 winter season. Led by Chef Daniel O’Brien of Top Chef, the distillery’s 8,000-square-foot expansion will offer a farm-to-table experience and incredible cocktails. Try the distillery’s new espresso-flavored vodka and other 2016 product offerings.
For those who prefer vacationing toward the end of ski season, Breckenridge will host its 54th annual Spring Fever, a nearly monthlong festival featuring events on the mountain and in town April 1–23.
Skiers love Breckenridge for its plethora of sunshine and snow. Photo courtesy of Breckenridge Ski Resort.
Opening Day: November 11
Where to Stay: Valdoro Mountain Lodge is a luxurious mountain retreat next to the base of Peak 9 and just two blocks from Main Street. Club Members visiting during this ski season will discover a remodeled lobby that brings natural elements into the lodge with a contemporary wood theme.
Insider Scoop: Q&A with General Manager Rafe Sykes
During our interview with Rafe, we asked for an insider’s perspective on how to make the most of the ski season. Here’s what he had to say.
Club Traveler (CT): With the opening days at Breckenridge and Park City just around the corner, what are you looking forward to most about the 2016–17 ski season?
Rafe Sykes (RS): Every season is fun, exciting and different. For me personally, being on the mountain with my family is what I get most excited about.
CT: Do Sunrise Lodge and Valdoro Mountain Lodge have special events planned for the opening weekends?
RS: The ski areas themselves do such a great job of creating a celebration for the opening days, so that’s really where the party is at. At the lodges, we look forward to welcoming all our “ski families” back for another great season.
CT: Do you ski or snowboard? We’d love to hear your favorite trail to ski at Breckenridge and at Park City!
RS: Of course! I love to get out for a run or two with our Owners when I can as well. My favorite trails vary based on the conditions, but here are some that are consistently fun:
In Park City: On the town side, I really like doing laps on Silverlode lift. “Parley’s Park” is a particular favorite with our family; it’s got a nice, long, consistent pitch and you can ski it really fast [or] take it easy and enjoy the views. On the Canyons side, the Super Condor lift accesses some great terrain. “Boa” is a classic long alpine run with great views.
In Breckenridge: Sometimes being at the far end of the mountain is a great way to avoid crowds if you’re skiing on a busy day. If that’s the case, I really like the Falcon Chair and skiing in “The Burn” area. Of course, the other side of the mountain is great, too. Check out “Bliss” [a groomed swath trail] for a good introduction to the newest area of Breckenridge.
*The photo featured at the top of this article is courtesy of Park City Mountain Resort.