Vail Resorts, Inc. today announced that the company plans to make a historic investment of CAD$66 million (USD$52 million) at Whistler Blackcomb this season focusing on three new lifts at the heart of the resort. This transformative investment features the addition of a new gondola on the Blackcomb side of the mountain, as well as several other lift infrastructure upgrades, providing quicker, easier access to all levels of terrain. The plan also represents the largest single-year capital investment program in the resort’s history, and the Company’s decision to accelerate the mountain improvements included in the Renaissance plan, while deferring consideration of the new water park.
A new 10-passenger gondola will replace the Wizard and Solar chairlifts and ascend from the base to the top of Blackcomb Mountain, terminating adjacent to the existing PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, which transports guests to and from Blackcomb and Whistler. Upon completion, the new gondola will offer guests a more comfortable and weather-protected experience in the first three-gondola connection in the world, enhancing the longest continuous lift system. The new gondola is expected to represent a 47-percent capacity increase and move 4,000 people per hour, the highest capacity in North America.
In addition to the new gondola, the capital plan also includes lift upgrades in Whistler Blackcomb’s Family Ski Zone, an upper-mountain area renowned for intermediate trails tailored to families. The Family Ski Zone’s Emerald Express four-passenger lift will be replaced with a new six-passenger high-speed lift, increasing guest uphill capacity by 29 percent and maximizing time on the snow for families on the mountain’s premier intermediate learning terrain.
Finally, the existing Catskinner triple-passenger lift will be replaced with a four-passenger, high-speed lift, which will increase uphill capacity by 56 percent and allow Whistler Blackcomb guests to enjoy faster, more convenient access to Blackcomb Mountain’s beginner and intermediate terrain.
This historic investment also includes the expansion of Whistler Blackcomb’s summer season offering and world-renowned mountain bike park. The mountain bike park is currently in the middle of a two-phase upgrade that will add 21 kilometres (13 miles) of biking trails in the summer of 2018, representing the single largest new terrain opening in the history of the park.
With these new lifts and mountain bike park expansion, Whistler Blackcomb is well positioned as North America’s premier all-season resort. These capital projects are subject to regulatory approval.