The passion that skiers have for the slopes is captured in the film Winterland, which is produced annually by Teton Gravity Research. The film has already shown in Loveland and is scheduled for various places elsewhere in the region. Pictured is 13-year-old skier Kai Jones of Victor, Idaho. Courtesy Nic Alegre for Teton Gravity Research

Amenities help resorts lure skiers

A trip to the slopes for diehard skiers isn’t just about the snowpack, but a whole list of amenities gives them reason to come to Colorado or go elsewhere to get their ski fix.

And it’s all in the numbers, which show that Colorado represents the top skiing destination in the nation for things like snow conditions, challenging terrain, tree skiing, lift infrastructure, après ski activities and slope environment that includes lodging, restaurants, nightlight, shopping and spas.

In that top place, the state’s destinations set the all-time record in 2018 by bringing in 13.8 million skiers to the slopes and host 20 to 25 percent of skier visits in the nation, said Chris Linsmayer, public affairs director for Colorado Ski Country, a Denver-based trade association that represents 23 ski destinations across the state.

“Aspen, Steamboat, Telluride, Copper Mountain, those are going to have more amenities compared to the other areas,” Linsmayer said, adding that the four ski destinations are the largest in the association’s membership.  “Aspen Snowmass, Steamboat and Telluride are super luxurious. They have higher-end hotel accommodations and on-mountain dining options. Copper Mountain and Winter Park, too, will have more amenities.”

Aspen Snowmass is a four-mountain ski destination surrounding Aspen and Snowmass Village with independent ski resorts, including its namesake as well as Aspen Mountain in the city, Aspen Highlands and Aspen Buttermilk.

“Aspen is a great place to ski because we have our four distinct mountains that are under one ski pass. That is pretty unique in Colorado and the country,” said Tucker Vest Burton, senior public relations manager for Aspen Snowmass. “They are their own individual mountains with individual characteristics with different terrains and their own kind of events and après ski. You get a multi-resort experience within our valley. … We’re Snowmass, but within that, you have four distinct mountains with their own character and personality.”

Copper Mountain has a variety of natural terrain spanning 2,500 acres with slopes progressing in difficulty from beginning in the east, intermediate in the central area and advanced in the west.

“All of them have corresponding villages for dining, events and activities, and they are all pedestrian-friendly,” said Taylor Prather, public relations manager for Copper Mountain, adding that the central area is a hub for events, music, ice skating and skiing competitions. “We have events every weekend, most of which are complementary to our guests, and evening after-hours as well.”

Large ski areas with a long list of amenities across the state’s geography include Steamboat Ski Resort in the northern most area, Winter Park Resort and Copper Mountain in the central area, and Telluride Ski Resort and Purgatory Resort in the southwest, Linsmayer said. Resorts like Aspen Snowmass, Telluride and Steamboat are near downtown strips, and these and other large resorts offer high-end mountain dining and after-hours entertainment, shopping and spas, plus other cold-related activities such as ice skating and tubing, he said.

The state’s ski resorts made several investments over the last several years to add to the skier experience, including 10 new chairlifts, nearly 10 new dining facilities and several terrain expansions for larger skiing areas. In the past two years, Aspen Snowmass, Steamboat, Copper Mountain and Purgatory brought in mountain coasters, which are mini-rollercoaster rides.

“There’s a reason Colorado remains at the top,” Linsmayer said. “We think it’s because of our phenomenal guest services and our phenomenal skiing and snowboard resorts across the state. … Our destinations are constantly working to improve the guest experience.”

The state’s ski resorts rank differently depending on the entity measuring their amenities, and in some lists, they vie against national and international resorts, while retaining several top spots.

For instance, PlanetWare, an online travel guide in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada, placed Aspen Snowmass fifth among the “16 Top-Rated Ski Resorts in the World, 2019.” The guide measures the terrain, snow conditions and lift access to help rank the top choices for serious skiers.

Top on the list is Whistler Blackcomb in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, which is part of the Vail Resorts group. The resort combines the terrain of two mountains with more than 200 runs accessed by 37 chairlifts, plus a two-mile gondola joining the two mountaintops and a full-service resort village at the base.

The list places Vail Ski Resort in fourth place for its long groomed runs that overlook Vail’s luxury hotels, upscale restaurants and shops, plus its nearly 5,300 acres of skiing and 31 chairlifts. The largest resort in Colorado and one of the largest in North America, it has a variety of terrains and seven back bowls with glades, bumps and steeps.

Aspen Snowmass spans more than 5,500 acres with groomed slopes in the four destinations, which are close together and linked by a shuttle. The Aspen Mountain destination is geared to intermediate and expert skiers with steep terrain rated black or double-black. Aspen Highlands has expert runs and opportunities for backcountry skiers in the high-alpine terrain of the Highland Bowl. Plus, there are some easy areas for beginners and areas safe for newcomers to try out un-groomed terrain.

In eighth place is Telluride in the San Juan Mountains with 2,000 acres of skiable terrain and skiing at all levels on 148 trails, plus terrain requiring hiking access and a Mountain Village at the base accessible by skiing into and out of it. The base is connected by gondola to the town of Telluride.

“Telluride’s natural attributes — the breathtaking scenery of the surrounding San Juan peaks, the ski terrain and the character, authenticity and charm of the town of Telluride  — make this one of the most unique and special resorts in the country,” said Bill Jensen, chief executive officer of Telluride. “The range of amenities in Telluride is wide and eclectic. With diverse dining options, unique on- and off-mountain experiences and music and artisan activities, there’s something for everyone here.”

According to the SnowPak guide, a few of Colorado’s skiing hotspots make it into the top 10 best ski resorts in the nation for 2019-20. They include Telluride in second place, Vail in third, Aspen Snowmass in fourth, Beaver Creek in sixth, Steamboat in seventh and Breckenridge in ninth. First place goes to a resort outside the state, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Jackson, Wyoming, favored for its steeps, back-country terrain and lift system.

Powderhounds, a ski and snowboard travel website, rates the best ski resorts in the nation for the Powderhounds Awards: Best Ski Resorts in the U.S. Among its various rankings, it names two Colorado ski resorts among the best, including Copper Mountain and Breckenridge. For the best overall terrain, it includes Telluride and Breckenridge, and for best tree skiing, Steamboat.

A trip to the slopes for diehard skiers isn’t just about the snowpack, but a whole list of amenities gives them reason to come to Colorado or go elsewhere to get their ski fix.

And it’s all in the numbers, which show that Colorado represents the top skiing destination in the nation for things like snow conditions, challenging terrain, tree skiing, lift infrastructure, après ski activities and slope environment that includes lodging, restaurants, nightlight, shopping and spas.

In that top place, the state’s destinations set the all-time record in 2018 by bringing in 13.8 million skiers to the slopes and host 20 to 25 percent of skier visits in the nation, said Chris Linsmayer, public affairs director for Colorado Ski Country, a Denver-based trade association that represents 23 ski destinations across the state.

“Aspen, Steamboat, Telluride, Copper Mountain, those are going to have more amenities compared to the other areas,” Linsmayer said, adding that the four ski destinations are the largest in the association’s membership.  “Aspen Snowmass, Steamboat and Telluride are super luxurious. They have higher-end hotel accommodations and on-mountain dining options. Copper Mountain and Winter Park, too, will have more amenities.”

Aspen Snowmass is a four-mountain ski destination surrounding Aspen and Snowmass Village with independent ski resorts, including its namesake as well as Aspen Mountain in the city, Aspen Highlands and Aspen Buttermilk.

“Aspen is a great place to ski because we have our four distinct mountains…