Heavenly plans $10 million in improvements | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Heavenly plans $10 million in improvements

Sally J. Taylor and Sam Bauman

A $10 million upgrade of Heavenly Ski Resort’s ski lifts, lodge and children’s center was announced Thursday by resort executives.

Improvements include two new high-speed lifts, additional snowmaking and grooming capabilities and expansion of the children’s center and Sky Lodge. Erosion control and slope stabilization improvements will continue. The investment is the largest since the resort opened in 1955.

“It is going to be a very busy summer at Heavenly and we couldn’t be more excited,” said Heavenly’s Managing Director Dennis Harmon. “Virtually everywhere skiers and riders go on the mountain next season, they’ll experience something new. All of our improvements are geared to provide our guests with a better experience.”

Staff at the United States Forest Service, which owns the land, and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, are reviewing the proposed improvements to ensure consistency with Heavenly’s Master Plan and environmental documents that were approved in 1996.

Construction is scheduled to begin in early June.

The Master Plan includes a gondola that eventually will connect into the Park Avenue Redevelopment area near the state line. But that project, along with several more lifts, runs and buildings, is a couple years into the future.

This year’s phase marks the beginning of improvements under new ownership. The Maine-based American Skiing Company, owned by Les Otten, acquired the resort in November, 1997, from the Kamori International Corporation. ASC’s family of resorts, accounting for about 9 percent of all skier visits in the country, also include resorts in Vermont, Main, Utah, New Hampshire and Colorado.

Several improvements, including replacing two older lifts with high-speed detachable quad chairs, are aimed at reducing the time spent between runs.

The old three-seater Gunbarrel chair lift has been considered as obsolete for a premier ski run such as the Face. The new quad will ease the long lift lines at the California base.

The new high-speed lift at Stagecoach will open areas of the resort that have been under utilitized.

Both lifts will cut riding time substantially. The Gunbarrel triple chair is expected to take skiers and snowboarders more than 1,700 vertical feet in less than four minutes, one-third the time of the current lift. The Stagecoach ride will be less than half as long, from 13 minutes to six.

During the past six summers, Heavenly has invested $24 million in improvements.

Last summer, Heavenly added the Tamarack lift, a six-seat detachable quad lift just off the top of the Dipper Express chair. In addition three new ski runs were added to the Tamarack area.

Future plans call for the state line gondola to end at the Tamarack base, opening the entire resort in one ride to guests coming from the casino area. The gondola cars are expected to be detachable in summer and added to the Tamarack lift cables to give summer visitors a view of Lake Tahoe.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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