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New lifts, more mountain for The Canyons

SKYLER BELL, Of the Record staff

Wanting to keep up with the nation’s other world-class resorts, The Canyons will be undergoing over $10 million worth of improvements before the 2006-07 ski season.

A new lift will be installed, an old lift will be replaced and more carriers will be added to the Cabriolet as part of one of the largest enhancement expenditures for the resort in recent history.

"We’ll be spending in the neighborhood of $10 million, which is the most we’ve spent in the last five years or so, maybe longer," said The Canyons’ Todd Burnette, Vice President of Marketing and Brand Management. "It’s really to complete the transformation of The Canyons into a world-class resort. We need to upgrade the experience for our guests, especially the destination skiers, because they’re used to a certain level of an experience and we realize we need to make these improvements to keep up with other major resorts."

The most anticipated expansion is the addition of the new DreamCatcher lift, which will give guests more room to enjoy the slopes.

"DreamCatcher will open another 200 acres of new terrain on south side of the mountain," Burnette said. "It’s going to be mostly intermediate to expert terrain. We’re going to do some glading of the area, so it will be great tree skiing. It’s all north-facing so the snow will hold there real well."

The Tombstone lift, a high-speed quad and hub of activity that is often a place of traffic jams and long lines, will be replaced by a six-pack lift that will increase uphill carrying capacity by 52 percent.

"Tombstone has the tendency to get very crowded on our busiest days because at some point everyone has to ride it at least once," Burnette said. "It’s been kind of a choke point for people on the mountain and by replacing Tombstone with a six-pack it will really help with the congestion during the season. We hope no one will have to wait all season."

In further efforts to increase its efficiency to carry guests up and down the mountain, The Canyons will also add 12 cabins to the Cabriolet lift, which runs from the base parking lot to the Forum. The new cabins will yield a 46 percent increase in capacity, and will help guests get up the mountain at the start of the day and down the mountain at the end of it.

In addition to the lift improvements, there will also be a large condominium complex will open this fall at the base of the mountain across from the Westgate complex. Although the resort will not own it, Burnette said they will be working with the owners to keep the units full.

The new real estate developments will help put people into the new chairlifts, Burnette said, but great snow has to be there as well. In order to fulfill that need, the resort will finish a project to improve its snowmaking system.

"We’re finishing a two-year project to completely automate our snowmaking system," he said. "Each of the fans has a weather system on it, so they can monitor the weather right where they are. That means less hassle and more efficiency."

Other improvements include four new ticket windows at the Forum to address crowding issues, which come in addition to the new windows put in at the base last year, new signs around the mountain to help guests find their way around the mountain, and new kitchen equipment at Lookout Cabin in Sun Lodge, so a larger variety of on-mountain food can be offered.

"We are also looking at adding an additional food and beverage outlet in the Forum that would be a family dining concept of some sort," Burnette said. "We’re also thoroughly investigating improving and expanding the Red Pine Lodge. We might not get to it this summer because of timing, but we’re working on a two-year plan."

The improvements to the lodge would add another 150 to 215 seats in the restaurant.

To help with on-mountain management, there will also be seven new snowmobiles, six trucks, a new transport van and a new lift maintenance facility.

"It will increase our ability to work on all our lifts and grips in the wintertime so we can be much more efficient in the maintenance of our lifts," Burnette said. "But in general, we’re just doing a lot of other general sprucing up around the resort, like painting old buildings to make it look nicer."

He also said there will be a moderate increase in ticket pricing, but Burnette was not able to give specific numbers.

"We had an incredible season last year," he said, speaking about skier days. "We, as a resort, were up 16 percent. As a comparison, the state of Utah was up about four percent, so we really had a phenomenal growth year and all these improvements are geared toward helping with all the new traffic we’ve gotten. We want to spend the money to make sure we continue that success."


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