Stratton to get new lift, biking park

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Readers: This story was updated on March 19 to correct that ski lifts were installed on Sun Bowl in the 2000s rather than Snow Bowl.

STRATTON — A new chairlift and downhill mountain bike park are coming to Stratton Mountain Resort, thanks to a $10 million investment from its parent company.

"We're very excited to get a green light on the capital," said Myra Foster, Stratton's senior manager of marketing and communications.

Stratton is one of 12 resorts acquired last year by Alterra Mountain Co., which was created through a partnership between KSL Capital Partners and the Crown family, which owns Aspen Skiing Co. Intrawest Resort Holdings LLC previously owned Stratton.

Alterra announced a five-year plan this week to spend $110 million annually on capital projects designed around "current needs and input from guests."

"Each aspect of our business plays a part in the guest experience that brings them back year after year, from a welcoming base area to an efficient ski school to exceptional services," Alterra CEO Rusty Gregory said in a release. "It is our commitment to invest in each of our destinations in order to grow the sport, inspire loyal guests and instill a love of the mountains in all who visit.

"We do that through thoughtful and innovative capital investments that improve a guest's experience, while we continue to support and preserve the character and traditions of each destination."

Stratton had been among the first resorts to have a high-speed six-passenger lift, Foster said. American Express was installed on the main face in 1996. Two more followed on Sun Bowl, the western side of mountain with access to beginner to expert terrain, in the early 2000s. The resort replaced gondola cabins a couple of years ago.

The fixed-grip quad at Snow Bowl will be dismantled at the end of ski season.

"This was a lift that had a good, long life," Foster said. "And we're ready to say goodbye and usher in a new era for the trails and Snow Bowl."

The lift manufacturer Doppelmayr will install the not-yet-named high-speed quad, which will cut ride time down from 14 to five minutes and provide a smoother ramp for beginners unloading. The chairlift will be "positioned to minimize the impact of wind, with lower towers that hug the tree line on skiers' left, and built with a parking rail for all 98 chairs to combat overnight icing," according to a press release. New lift shacks "will be crafted locally of wood for a classic Vermont vibe."

Due to the rare Bicknell's thrush songbird nesting nearby, no work will be done on the lift from May 15 to Aug. 1. But resort officials still expect it to be ready in time for next ski season.

The new lift requires Act 250 approval from the state as does the proposed downhill mountain bike park. About 4.6 miles of terrain will be accessed by bikers from mid-mountain with lift service from American Express in the first phase of building the park. The goal is to have some trails ready to ride by the fall.

"I think it will be done in four phases," said Foster, noting that bike access will likely not be available from the summit because of the Bicknell's thrush but trails will go to Snow Bowl. "From mid-mountain, there are plenty of opportunities for all levels of terrain. It will be a nice blend of beginner, intermediate, progression trails."

The Vermont-based company Sinuosity designed bike park plans "implementing techniques to minimize the environmental impact and create trail longevity," according to the press release.

Other upgrades will include a new grooming machine and a remodel of the Green Mountain Room in the Black Bear Lodge.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273. 


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