While new facilities and programs abound across Utah's 13 ski and snowboard resorts this winter, this season's biggest improvement to greet visitors to the state may not be a new lift, new snowmaking or even a new run. Instead, it might be a new set of liquor laws.
This past summer Utah legislators enacted the most significant change to the state's liquor laws in 40 years. Utah bars are now open to the general public and the state's previous private club system, which required customers to fill out an application and pay a fee for the right to enter a bar, has been eliminated. The private club system was blamed by many for the misconception that it was difficult to get an alcoholic drink in Utah.
The state's resorts have celebrated the change by sprucing up their amenities, products and services for the 2009-10 winter season. Snow is already falling and Utah's resorts have bundled up with a variety of improvements designed to please their guests.
Alta Ski Area's popular Albion Basin Day Lodge has been remodeled to better accommodate guests. At Beaver Mountain in the far northeastern corner of the state, a new conveyor lift has been added to better access the resort's beginner terrain.
Customers who purchase 10 gallons of gas or more at select gas stations in Southern Utah will receive a coupon offering 50 percent off mid-week skiing at Utah's only southern ski and snowboard resort, Brian Head.
The new Dakota Mountain Lodge & Golden Door Spa, Waldorf Astoria Collection's first ski-in, ski-out property, will accommodate guests at The Canyons Resort starting this season. The lodge features 175 guest rooms and suites, elegant amenities, custom furnishings and gourmet kitchens. Guests will also be able to dine at its Spruce Restaurant, the San Francisco landmark's first outpost.
Deer Valley Resort has expanded its services to include a new property management division that will assure "the Deer Valley difference" from the moment guests check-in. In addition, the St. Regis Deer Crest Resort will provide a new lodging option for Deer Valley guests, featuring 181 guest rooms including 67 suites, luxury amenities, a ski beach and infinity pool. A new funicular lift will carry St. Regis guests from Deer Valley's Snow Park Lodge, and the Remede Spa will enable guests to refresh with signature treatments after a day on the slopes.
Park City Mountain Resort has enhanced its downhill experience with two new Kids Adventure Trails designed specifically for the Kids Signature 5 program, as well as additional glade skiing and other enhancements off Crescent Ridge to allow greater usability for all levels of skiers and riders.
New Sunset Safari guided snowcat tours will take Powder Mountain guests to mountain peaks with unobstructed views of Ogden Valley, the Wasatch Mountains and beyond to the Unita Mountain Range. Tours culminate with alfresco dining while watching the sun set over the Wasatch Mountains. On the return trip, moonlight turns the snow covered slopes into a shimmering wonderland, adding a romantic touch to the adventure.
Snowbasin will add over 20 new features to their terrain park, offering the perfect level of thrill for everyone in the family. The resort will also host the 2010 Dew Tour Jan. 15-17 where top freeskiers and snowboarders will compete in slopestyle and superpipe events.
At Snowbird, Path to Paradise and the unloading area of Mineral Basin Express have been regraded to improve skier transportation. The biggest on-mountain change in the state, however, is at Solitude Mountain Resort, where installation has begun on Powderhorn II, a $1.5 million quad chairlift that will replace the original Powderhorn double, a holdover from its mid-70s installation.
Powderhorn II will start from the bottom of Sunshine Bowl, travel above the Concord ski run, and end in the same location as the original Powderhorn Lift. The move to a mid-mountain starting point allows expert snowriders to make continuous laps on the upper mountain - from Diamond Lane to Sunshine Bowl - without the need to return to the base area via beginner runs. Visitors will enjoy a seven minute lift ride on the new lift, as opposed to twelve minutes on the old double.
Sundance Resort lights up the night with new night skiing on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Then check out the Owl Bar, which features the restored 1890's bar once frequented by Butch Cassidy's Hole in the Wall Gang.
Wolf Creek Utah will enhance their beginner experience by expanding both rental operations and ski school. In addition to improving the rental process, the Mountain Learning Center is announcing a "price-roll back." Class lessons are being offered at a 25 percent discount.